Dan Oliver talks to the Brass agency, a full-service company that fully understands digital. Paul Mallett, Andrew Brown and the design and technical team discuss how they keep their clients happy
.net: What’s the story behind your recent merger?
Paul Mallett: Four years ago, Swamp was acquired by Brahm, one of the largest independent agencies outside London. This created a team of more than 50 digital specialists and integrated Swamp into a company with 180 staff, covering everything to do with marketing and communications.
The boundaries between ‘traditional’ marketing and digital marketing have blurred and clients are now looking for digital solutions to be central to their strategies. So, earlier this year we set out to reorganise the way the agency was set up, with a structure that made things much clearer and simpler for clients. With that came a single brand, Brass.
.net: Which areas does the Brass agency specialise in?
Andrew Brown: We’re full service, so everything from web design to media planning and buying, online PR, SEO and content management. We’re particularly strong across FMCG (fast moving consumer goods) and government sectors.
.net: What sets you apart from other agencies?
AB: A lot of large full-service or above-the-line agencies have had a hard time developing their digital divisions. We’re different because at the heart of our full service agency is a beating digital heart that really understands the internet. Almost all the work we do now requires some aspect of digital integration, whether it’s a fully integrated campaign or just has a digital requirement. We really get it. We’re also applying some of the digital thinking in terms of metrics to all our work, so we can provide real, proven return on investment.
.net: What’s exciting you most in the world of web design at the moment?
Chris Kemm: IE9 supporting CSS3 and HTML5. We also love lots of Projector’s Uniqlo work, the quality writing from themechanism.com and Sperfad’s work for people such as Sprint.
.net: How do you at the Brass agency foster good client relationships?
AB: Be relevant, be visible and be timely. Digital technology has made it much easier to forge strong client relationships if it’s used appropriately. Ensure you’re there, either on the phone or at their office. Don’t press Send and think the job’s done. And always put yourself in your client’s shoes to understand their world.
.net: You boast a number of different services. How do you tackle the requirements of a new project?
PM: The rebrand gave us the opportunity to reorganise the way the agency was set up. It’s now centred around four key hubs of activity: Explore, Create, Connect and Invent. From these hubs we assemble multi-disciplinary teams that can think across different communication channels and platforms. We always start by focusing on the customer journey: identifying what motivates them and what makes them act differently to help us develop campaigns that influence the decision-making process at every stage.
.net: You have a particularly good blog. How do you go about producing/choosing articles?
PM: We’re lucky to have a team of experts with a diverse range of specialist knowledge areas who we can call upon to write blog posts for us depending on the topic we’ve got in mind. Our content plan is based on search volumes and on monitoring conversations, both online and offline.
Also, we are dead funny.
.net: If you had to choose one tool that you couldn’t live without, what would it be?
PM: Google’s Keyword Tool, every time. It’s the first place we start in our ‘explore’ activity when we receive client briefs.
.net: Which part of the design process do you think is the most overlooked?
James Pierechod: To create something original and impressive it’s really important that we designers bring our own personality into our work. Spending time taking designs and clients in unexpected directions can uncover serendipitous results that can really make a final design. Plus, don’t be scared to throw things away and start again.
.net: How do you keep clients happy?
PM: By delivering effective work that meets their objectives. ‘Effectiveness’ can manifest itself in many different ways but essentially it comes down to tangible ROI that clients can communicate to their board to demonstrate ‘effective’ marketing spend.
.net: Do you have anything exciting you’re currently working on, which you’d like to tell our readers about?
Mark Daws: We’re currently working with Ribena, as part of a wider agency team, to deliver a major campaign bringing alive the fact that Ribena really is made from blackcurrants grown on British farms.
We’re delivering a full range of activity across all major social media channels including Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Flickr and the Ribena blog.
.net: Facebook: good or evil?
PM: Good, as long as it’s used in the right way! Brands need to have comprehensive social media guidelines in place and an effective engagement strategy. It’s about knowing what you want to say and why you want to say it, and engaging in a genuine two-way dialogue. Brands shouldn’t be on Facebook just for the sake of it but offer authentic conversation and content.