November 11th, 2016
At the beginning of this year (2016), Hatched officially turned five years old. On our five year journey there’ve been a few landmark occasions – the defining moments of Hatched that have formed the agency that we are today. In a series of five posts, we look back at some of those moments and divulge some of those stories. In this conclusive post we look at client partnership and what we’ve learned through our defining moments.
When starting an agency it’s always very tough to establish long-standing relationships with brands immediately, unless of course, you are lucky enough to start the agency based on a pre-existing relationship with that client. For Hatched, starting without any clients meant we had to prove ourselves and it was going to take a while to create those partnerships before moving to a ‘retained’ agency status. In the first few years at Hatched we worked on what we call ‘hand to mouth’, project based work – short-term projects that you can’t really build responsibly for the future. We still have those projects and enjoy them, but it’s the long-term relationships, where you work together with a brand for a long or undefined period of time to help evolve one another, that we relish. With these relationships we have been able to grow and it all started with UPP.
UPP have been a client of ours for around four years and they are our biggest success story. The evolution of the brand is something we’re quite proud of. Fortunately for us, UPP is set up on the idea of partnership, in fact, it’s in their name (University Partnerships Programme), but we still had to prove ourselves first. Our first (test) project for UPP was a pitch and completion of a web project for one of their University partners, Broadgate Park in Nottingham. Upon successful launch of the website, we were then asked to pitch for their corporate branding project.
Like with all our pitches, we gave it everything, but we offered something different. UPP, at the time, were a company very much focused on buildings and infrastructure, the real brass tacts of the ‘product’ they were building, selling and supplying to their partners. It created a fairly cold, ‘matter-of-fact’ corporation. Our view was to change this mentality to create a company who, via their ‘product’, focused on people – a vision that promoted and protected the people working at UPP, from the bottom to the top, balanced with the idea that they were providing an environment for students to excel, to help towards the success of their futures.
Whilst the brief was about corporate brand look-and-feel, when we pitched, former partner, Andy Cridland, stood up and read out ‘A Vision for UPP’ – a small ‘unbranded’ manifesto booklet, from the perspective of a future UPP. Throughout the presentation, we hardly presented any design at all. We felt it wasn’t ready for its ‘skin’ when the brand didn’t have any ‘meat’ or ‘bones’ – it didn’t yet have a heartbeat. It was personality-less, almost robotic. The brand needed to solve this issue first in order to give the company a reason to exist and have definition as a business.
We believe that behind any great brand is a clear reason to exist. The ‘why’ a brand does what it does, the ‘what’ the brand does and the ‘how’ the brand does it. Understanding the brand – utilising its values, positioning and championing why it exists – sets up a ‘central nerve centre’, a hub that all communication can flow through, from brand broadcast to brand conversation.
Anyway, back to the pitch. It was a risky strategy, given the outlook of the company at the time, but it was received famously. In fact, the client at the time, Andy Carr, Head of Communications, applauded. It was what he was looking for and what he’d been struggling to convey to the business internally at UPP. He believed in it, and he believed in us.
What came from working together was a ‘Vision & Values’ book that was handed to every member of staff, every partner and investor. This was the vision for UPP and how it would carry itself forward, through values and principles rather than bricks and mortar, to celebrate the people that worked for and with UPP rather than the profits they made. This would then guide the new visual identity and how it communicated with its audiences.
The defining moment came in this turnaround. When people, who may not have believed in the power of ‘brand’, started to believe in the reason to exist and in what they were doing. They started to listen to the importance of their individual job role, the part they were playing in the bigger picture and what the end result was for the students and universities that they were serving. This difference and evolution was made by Hatched and our client, Andy Carr. It gave us the confidence in collaboration that together we can make fairly large differences to people through brands and branding.
To some, the creative or advertising industry is seen as negative – an industry full of arrogant prima donnas (yes, some exist) trying to make a quick buck off of lies and subliminal messages, or that brand is a waste of money filled with wishy-washy fluff that means nothing. For us, this couldn’t be further from the truth. In every project we work on, we go in with the idea of making a positive difference, however big or small. We really care about the end-user, the customer and the community. We try to help guide our clients to do the same, to give the brand, and the people that work for or interact with it, a reason.
With this in mind, in long-term partnerships you become an extension of the brand you are working with and it’s here that we do our best work. The more you get to know the brand, the more you can understand its aims or indeed direct them. At the same time, the brand gets to know how you work as an agency, they are more comfortable with you, ‘formal’ becomes informal and they become part of the creative team, all working together in the same direction, to push the brand from strength to strength, to try to make a difference both internally and externally.
Partnership is key for an agency like us, and our partnership with UPP has been defining in itself, more than a moment. We went from working with one client to, now, working with many different areas of the business, from the corporate branding to the website, from internal initiatives to external marketing campaigns and photo shoots. We are an outfit that they can rely on and trust. And that trust comes through long-term hard work, understanding, perseverance and dedicated partnership.
To conclude, our five (almost six) years have been full of defining moments, beyond the five that we’ve been writing about. In fact, each project, each success, each failure, each story, each person, each client, each decision, each move, each day… they’ve defined us and made us the agency (and the people) we are today. In the end, we try to do what’s right, with our mantra ‘no one cares more than us’ close to heart. What we have learned over the past five or six years, and what rings truest, is that we reap what we sow. Success will come, even through loss because we can afford loss – whether that be pitches, personnel or profits – but what we cannot afford to lose are our values.
We’re looking forward to another five years of moments, memories and adventure, creating stories along the way. Through all the ups and downs, we wouldn’t change a thing. So far, it’s been ‘real’ and that’s how we aim to keep it.
Thanks for reading.
Read the rest: