Cliché as it is, January is a great time for reflecting, making and hatching plans.
2018 was an interesting time for us. I would describe it as a year of transition, an enjoyable if challenging 12 months with some exciting changes, new opportunities and one or two disappointments too.
Much of last year was about investing in going forward, although the difficulty with that is that much of what you are putting time and money into isn’t immediately tangible. In that sense, people looking in could be forgiven for thinking we’d not done our sums ‘where’s the ROI and all that’. Sometimes the spreadsheet is misleading, a one-dimensional perspective on something broader that’s difficult to define. I can’t remember seeing a column headed ‘instinct’ or a tab labelled ‘luck’ in Excel, yet inevitably these play an essential part in devising, or more so, delivering a successful business strategy.
I’m not big on detail, (I can see smiling heads nodding!) instead I prefer to focus on big-picture stuff and then weave in substance along the way where it’s needed. Call it gut, or experience, I think when you have been around a while you tend to get a good sense of direction and what needs doing to get there without a small-scale map. The how to do it is often trickier, and that’s where having a great team comes in.
Last year I talked about embracing small and being prepared to say no. To that end, we shifted Bravedog a considerable distance from where we were to where we are going.
Our mission has been to stop behaving like a big agency, occupied trying to deliver everything; instead, we’re concentrating on doing less, better
Our mission has been to stop behaving like a big agency, occupied trying to deliver everything; instead, we’re concentrating on doing less, better – it’s proved to be extremely effective, indeed rewarding and even fun if I'm allowed to say that. We have around one-third of the client portfolio we had 18months ago, and a smaller, sharper team engaged only in demanding, meaningful and enjoyable work. This approach is resulting in longer-term, retained and genuine partnerships rather than the skinny, often uninspiring projects and one-way exchanges that previously accounted for too much of our time. Being more selective around who we work with has alleviated a lot of unnecessary pain too. Agencies are far more tolerant than they should be - artificial pitches, ridiculous budgets, ungrateful and downright rude people… no thanks.
Embarking on our journey has taken a fair bit of courage, and faith from our group colleagues, but it’s working and it’s hugely satisfying seeing the results begin to shine through.
One of the highlights of 2018 was moving into Workshed at the Carriageworks, the confidence and inspiration gained from being in ‘theright’ creative environment should never be underestimated.
Another was Bravedog’s mentoring scheme launched last year,with students from Swindon College BA (Hons) Graphic Design course. We’ve made a difference to 11 extremely talented individuals and it’s proved to be a hugely beneficial and rewarding experience. As was running a marketing masterclass with two start-up businesses as part of Nationwide Building Society’s growth programme which was a great success.
We’re also poised to officially launch our new website too which has been a few years in the making. It’s always tough trying to balance time on your own stuff with the demands of paying projects, but we got there(great work Matt!).
Most importantly, with all of this as a backdrop, we’ve done some fantastic work and shared some remarkable experiences with our clients. One word to sum up 2018, ‘PROGRESS’.
2019 is about doing more of the same and capitalising on our transition to the small agency that sells value and makes a difference. We're already knee deep in one or two large projects with some great new opportunities lurking just beyond the horizon. Our fingers are firmly crossed too for a roster position with a large, national organisation, which would be a remarkable achievement. Suffice to say we’re relishing the next 52 weeks, it's to be the year of the dog.