I was at a meeting today in the middle of Leeds, nothing unusual about that really but the working group is a bit out of the ordinary and something (I thought) worth writing about. The purpose of the meeting, aside from presenting new design ideas, was ‘future gazing’. This is an odd concept for outsiders, but put simply it just means considering ideas to stay ahead of the curve.
Punch have produced design work for a prominent Yorkshire hotel chain for a number of years – Cedar Court Hotels. Initially this was a pretty standard client/agency relationship, but over time things have changed and our remit of services has developed too.
We have always worked with a local PR agency – Bonner & Hindley – on behalf of the client. This helps to micro manage design, digital, marketing and PR services under one roof. This has the obvious benefit of being able to ramp up one of the services when needed without having the overall costs associated with certain bigger design agencies.
(on a test shoot for a new campaign at Kirkstall Abbey, Leeds with Cedar Court and Bonner & Hindley)
Over time the relationship between client, PR agency and design agency has grown stronger. Each party has developed a better understanding of each other and projects have become richer as a result.
This development did not happen overnight of course, it requires a high level of trust, communication and transparency. It would be easy for the balance of the relationship to collapse if one party did not fit into the team, or became more interested in short term gain.
However, that did not happen and over time this trust and understanding has resulted in an open forum for creative ideas and development which have taken the brand onto the next level. As a creative agency this give us the confidence to try ideas that we might not – if the relationship were different.
In fact, the ideas that were discussed and agreed today simply would not have been possible without the strong relationship we now enjoy. Part of this has been possible due to certain enlightened individuals at Cedar Court who are less concerned with how things used to be done in favour of making decisive decisions and looking ahead.
But sitting in the meeting today it struck me how many client relationships would flourish given that level of openness and common focus – rather than bureaucracy and blame culture that often kill off ideas and stifle design projects before they can get off the drawing board.
Of course, you have to earn that trust. We don’t assume to meet a client this week and be dictating their marketing strategy next week – these things come in time and in the case of Cedar Court have been based on a track record of delivering results in partnership with Bonner & Hindley.
One thing we discussed is the Disney culture of never saying ‘no’ in a creative meeting (I can imagine you rolling your eyes at this idea but all I would say is try it). The rules are simple, you can only say ‘yes’ to any idea with constructive feedback. For example ‘yes, great idea if you make sure the numbers work’ as appose to ‘No, get lost, the numbers will never work’. Have a go, it also makes a pretty useful drinking game.
Relationships like this are a breeding ground for good, creative ideas, added value and encourage all parties to think with an open mind about how to constantly improve the brand and create more effective marketing campaigns.
Also, importantly, relationships like this are good for our sanity too!