Welcome to VISU.AL 3.0 . In an earlier post I wrote about VISU.AL 2.0, which was published over a year and a half ago. A heck of lot has happened since, so I felt it warranted an upgrade. An upgrade to our service offerings, how we see the world, how we partner with brands and how we go to market. A Better Way.
Times are a changin’ – and rapidly. As a growing independent agency, if we are to stand any chance of survival in an already crowded marketplace being absorbed by consultancies, technology companies and even brands themselves; we need to adapt and scale, fast…..or die.
It will take more than sharp elbows and a hustle mindset to maintain longer-term partnerships with brands. ‘Insight, Know How and Know When’ will always ensure that agencies play their part and remain key partners for ongoing brand success. But looking forward, what do agencies need to look like?
It has always been the intention to scale this agency to be truly integrated and international in presence, to be ‘Always On’ for clients, which was not feasible under the old model. We were, as I would describe, a ‘reactive creative’ agency, silo’d, where you’re only as good as the last piece of creative you delivered via a prescribed brief. More worryingly, we saw some really great creative handed over which was then targeted towards the wrong audience at the wrong time and communicated across the wrong channels. No-one was winning.
Now, with hubs in Costa Rica, UK, Spain , Gibraltar , Malta and the Philippines we are able to offer the ‘Always On’ experience because of an evolved integrated and hybrid business model. A model which combines world class in-house talent with a global influencer and creator network. Always ‘People -First’ , with an even focus across data, content and technology. The data fuels the creative which is then powered by technology on a global scale. Because of this we operate faster , better and offer the best value for money.
It has always been a priority to ensure that any ‘inflated sense of- self’ is eradicated within the culture of the agency- to remove the ‘we know better than you’ that so often permeates within traditional agency models once complacency sets in . So the remit is to be ‘Always Listening’ . Always listening to customers, as they’re the ones making the final choices- always listening to brands to better understand what they are trying to achieve ( and not just push your agenda) – and always listening to the latest cultural and technological developments that will shape how we interact as humans.
Beyond Digital – The New Landscape. The Now Generation.
If we navigate way back to the 19th century, Charles Darwin’s publication ‘On the Origin of Species’ provided profound new concepts around the evolution of natural ecosystems, based on principles like ‘survival of the fittest’ and ‘symbiosis’. Fast forward 150 or so years and we can see an increasing rate of corporate failure because of their inability to interpret socio-economic and demographic shifts along with the rate of change of advances in technology or the impact of the digital revolution.
We live in an ‘On-Demand’ world. We expect things now, not tomorrow. We place higher value on in-moment experiences. To me the Now Generation is not just about Generation Z . It’s about a way of life. And because of the rate of change of technology, social media , digital transformation it involves Gen Z, Millenials, Gen X and the Baby Boomers. Everyone is a lot more tech savvy and everyone is a lot more connected. Consumers are absorbing vast amounts of data across multiple digital channels. On one hand this is great from a brand perspective as it relates to more touch points and theoretically can be measured and managed . The reality is somewhat different. Traditional and even many aspirational brands struggle to navigate through all these channels to separate out the signals from the noise. They often misunderstand the importance of Zero Party Data over First Party Data, the impact of explicit over implied audience intent, or even worse, cannot see what the signals look like in the first place.
To add to this, we are in the midst of a global pandemic which has forever changed the way we see and do things on so many levels. The way we work will change. The way we consume will change. Whichever way you look at things , the coronavirus crisis will accelerate digital transformation in the business world.
On the face of it, Generation Z and Millenials should have been the ideal demographic to target as they are native to the transition we’ve experienced from an information to a digital-social-mobile era. Although much more tech savvy, they’ve also become a lot more self-aware at a surprisingly young age, demanding authenticity and meaning in their experiences and interactions. Yet whilst they’re dealing with a new set of challenges left behind by a generation that are struggling to keep up with the pace of change, they are having to navigate an inefficient and global market place more interested in self-preservation.
On top of all this the global pandemic has resulted in a disproportionate levels of younger people out of work or working fewer hours. The multiple shocks facing young people from the coronavirus pandemic could result in them being scarred throughout their working lives, creating a “lockdown generation”.
More than one in six young people, aged 18-29, have stopped working since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, according to the UN’s International Labour Organisation, in its fourth report on the impact of Covid-19 on the global workforce.
Trust has been decimated by fake news, a growth internationally in right-wing bully boy dictatorial politics, a lack of transparency and accountability and a compromise in net neutrality. There’s only been a light touch in progress around governance and there’s a long way to go to protect consumer data and security. The greater powers ‘that be’ seem to be completely out of touch with the new populace.
Who Is Succeeding and Why?
What does success look like after 2020? The Corona virus has forced us to work more from home , if able to. It has forced us to adopt different rules around social interaction. Its forced us online – through Amazon purchases, Zoom calls , Google Meets, Whatsapp messaging, Microsoft Teams collaboration, TikTok social engagement, etc. It has forced us to use more technology. Covid 19 is taking Online gaming and e-sports to another level. This transformation will have a lasting impact and will change the way we connect, collaborate and communicate, whatever the ‘new normal looks like.
Although the world seem to come to a standstill over the past few months and global markets have been battered a granular look at stock markets will give you an indication of businesses that have not only kept their heads above water, but have positioned themselves to be in dominant positions as we settle back into some kind of ‘stable-state’; Amazon, Zoom, Tencent, TikTok, Netflix, Shopify, Google, S4 Capital, Electronic Arts- let’s not forget they were already making healthy progress before the pandemic accelerated their success.
What’s the secret?
Well there’s certainly no magic potion. Nobody expected this pandemic to happen ( although it was predicted ) . But many brands predicted that the world would be online a lot more than they were. They imaged what people would need tomorrow and built it today. They were there at the right time .
It’s about being relevant.
From a business perspective, organisations can take one of two paths in their quest for success (to create longterm growth and shareholder value ), and can be categorised as the Inside-Outs or Outside-Ins.
The Inside-Out approach is guided by a culture where inner strengths and capabilities will make the organisation prevail. The Outside-In approach is guided by the belief that the customer is King. Customer value creation, customer orientation and customer experiences are the keys to success. Customers habits change- so should the actions of brands. Those that don’t have a strong correlation between changing customers needs , brand purpose and a customer-oriented organisational culture, will not survive.
It’s about being relevant.
From Confusion to Clarity. A Better Way.
A new era of agency is called for . Providing a service we call A Better Way.
At a high level, businesses are successful because people buy from brands they like and trust. But to get your brand there, you need to know who your audiences are and what is important to them. You need to grab their attention. You need to be relevant. Then you need to understand how to scale your growth . The problem is, the key to reaching the customer is to ‘be’ the customer. Success needs a framework and you can’t wave a magic wand or thrown loads of money at it to nail it.
That’s why we adopt A Better Way– part of our DNA.
It’s 3-step methodology and framework that ensures your organisation has:
- A brand that is relevant
- Evidence-based data transformed into actionable insight, with digital brand activation coupled with the right creative mapped to specific messaging
- Targeted initiatives powered by technology that drive quantifiable positive outcomes across multiple channels.
We aim to remove the guesswork and instead, bang the drum on the importance of the three key mantras for a positive successful outcome, to deliver the right message to the right people on the right platforms at the right time:
- Know Who You Are Targeting
- Communicate Persuasively
- Sell With Integrity
We’re driven by the outcome and we work back from that to help brands scale.
We see ourselves as Digital Brand Wayfinders and just like traditional Wayfinding solutions ( you may find in airports or shopping malls) , the best outcome is a positive customer experience, removing points of friction along the journey from A (Awareness) to B (Buy).
We work well with brands with purpose that are looking for a better way to punch above their weight, outmanoeuvre their competition and are open to respond quickly to change.
Over time we want our clients to have a clear understanding of the customer journey, how to attribute success and how to optimise metrics on awareness, acquisition, activation, retention , referral and revenue to ensure repeat future performance. Its a matter of knowing all the nobs to tweak along the way to ensure the best possible outcome, much like a master sound engineer would do to ensure the delivery of the best possible recording.
We aim to give brands that extended hand – access to knowledge, process, creativity and technology, along with resources and a commercial model that they won’t receive from agencies with dated service offerings.
Our role in the agency marketplace will be that of the Digital Brand Navigator: We are here to show our clients a better way to find competitive advantage in the face of change and disruption. That may involve social intelligence, social asking, live streaming, playable ads, interactive creative, dynamic creative optimisation, programmatic , zero party data solutions, a global advertising campaign- or a chat over a cup of tea …
I’ll always be an advocate of coming up with The Big Idea as being a cornerstone of any agency worth their salt and it should always remain that way, but being able to deliver with efficiency and effectiveness is the key to ongoing successful partnerships.
We intend to be as radioactive in the best possible way to show brands a better way to scale growth whilst remaining relevant. We hope you agree and join us on this journey.