Publication:

New Zealand Marketing - 2021-09-23

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STRATEGY CREATIVE A KNIGHTLY PERSPECTIVE

In Association With Toluna

Strategy is a brand consultancy with a network of studios that understand business. It’s this interface of business, strategy and creativity that’s the alchemy for developing inspiring and effective work. If creative work is developed in isolation, without an understanding of the client organisation’s objectives and environment, it won’t deliver the required results. It may be emotionally engaging, but it won’t produce the desired outcome. It’s only a holistic, integrated approach that delivers every time. Understanding the nuances of business is also a prerequisite to successful work. All of Strategy’s Partners have ‘skin in the game’ – they understand margins, cash flow, juggling competing priorities and communication. They understand real-world requirements and produce work that works. We’ve structured our network of Strategy studios to enable our organisation to deliver and allow for a diverse group of experts to become Partners. We know that diversity fuels innovation and delivers better solutions. The different perspectives of our Partners, along with their teams, ensure that holistic, multidisciplinary skills are used to develop strategies, creative and communications plans that deliver. I’ve asked four of our Partners from across the Strategy network to share details on how they work and why strategic thinking is at the core of what they do. Lee Parkinson Strategic Partner, Christchurch It’s safe to say I’ve been around for a while. I spent over a decade on the client side in corporations, and an additional 20-plus years across all agency disciplines, such as creative, digital, client service and media – so I’ve had decent exposure to the many perspectives involved. My ability to read beyond the client brief as written and probe a bit more deeply into what the client really wants is an invaluable skill that has come from my experience on both sides. At Strategy, we’re equity Partners and have all worked in other businesses within the agency world or outside; some of us have owned other businesses prior to joining Strategy. This real-world knowledge recognises the need to be pragmatic while still having the courage to authentically humanise the clients’ brands we work on. However, we also know what it’s like to tell people to take a calculated risk within their business, because it’s something we continuously have to do within ours. It’s quite simple, really. The best relationships are built on communication, collaboration, trust, commitment and mutual respect. It’s incredible to see what can be achieved when working with a client who’s fully present, totally clear about what they need and passionate about their organisation. A client that trusts their agencies as partners stretches everyone to ensure that everybody’s best is that much better. It’s an absolute joy to experience this. Across our network, we have a range of skills, experience and knowledge that’s second to none. We can combine our skills and experience from across the network and bring together multidisciplinary teams for more complex client projects. We also know when to tap into our range of specialists to ensure that clients aren’t paying for stuff they don’t need. We’re the owners of that network, running our studios and making business decisions each and every day, not just sitting around with theoretical knowledge – so although each partner brings something different to the party, everybody really does care. That counts for a lot. It might seem like a cop-out, but I believe we have to try to prepare for anything. As strategists and planners, we can’t predict the future, so we have to try to plan for whatever the future might throw at us. We need to help businesses go beyond resilience and aim to become ‘anti-fragile’ systems, because the business ecosystem and our economy need to be able to come out the other side of any major shock or ordeal stronger and transformed by the event and changes forced on it. Businesses are their people – they deliver the brand experience regardless of their role in the organisation. We know that we need to treat them well and look after them so they can look after us, and this value is shared across our network. Kate Murchison Managing Partner, Auckland I’m excited to join the Strategy studio in Auckland and bring my own fresh perspective to the network. Twenty years on both sides of the fence, in advertising account roles and leading marketing teams, has afforded me many lessons, especially with the constant evolution of the business environment, channels and consumer behaviours. Across our studios, we’ve seen the importance of discovering ways to maintain business continuity. A report earlier in the year showed that only 11 percent of SMES made any digital change due to Covid-19. We know it might be daunting, but we can assist with planning and transitioning your business. Our ability to learn and adapt is critical. We relish making the complex simple. We understand that marketers and business owners are faced with competing priorities – supply, demand, pricing, sales… the list goes on. As partners, we take all of this and distil it into a simple, actionable plan. At Strategy, relationships are important. Many agencies think that their clients spend their days on work that they see, yet it might be only 10 percent of their day. As a partner, we want to understand your day-to-day challenges and build a working relationship in which we’re supporting each other. We believe there are two key factors in a valuebased relationship: communication and trust. When both are working together, that’s when the magic happens. Marketing’s not a science – good branding and comms is a lot about how it makes you feel. We believe having a basis of good communication, honesty and integrity helps build that trust to push the work where it needs to go to be effective. Jussara Bierman Managing Partner, Sydney Many years spent working in diverse economic and cultural environments has shaped the way I do business, as has having a strong entrepreneurial spirit. I started my first business at the age of 18 and over the years, my enterprise ethos has served me well in my work throughout Asia, the Middle East, New Zealand and Australia. Having an architecture background provides me with the ability to think more holistically and see the bigger picture, while my keen eye for detail enhances my day-to-day capabilities. Within our studio network, diversity in our thinking and experiences enriches and differentiates our business offerings. Our Strategy Partner model is truly unique. As Partners, we each understand the value of working in a business in which we have an investment. Each Partner utilises their specific strengths and talents to foster a unified network. Having multiple locations allows us to have our finger on the pulse of each market and localise a brand to a specific market as needed. We can give clients a localised focus, but with a global approach. Integral to this is considering the beneficial aspects of different cultures and points of entry for our home markets. Working with people who have integrity is a key driver of our approach to business. Being an open and transparent person myself, I believe it’s important to be honest about who we can help and how. Our clients trust that if we can’t solve a specific issue, we’ll endeavour to help them come up with a solution. This mutual respect is powerful, as the aim is always to build a relationship with our clients, so that they don’t hesitate to make us their first point of contact. When there’s a great level of uncertainty in the market, we try to bring a level of assurance through our business partners and in the quality of work we do. As brands continue to struggle with their relevance in this Covid world, the need to be authentic and genuine is greater than ever. We’re about humanising and building enduring brands, while being purposeful in all our endeavours. Matt Innes Strategic Partner, Wellington My background in design has brought to light the importance of strategic thinking. I’ve developed my skills through following some of the best strategists in the world and learning from our clients, which has given me a very diverse skill set. I’ve learnt what’s genuinely useful to include in a strategy and what’s superfluous. I craft a strategy from a designer’s perspective, ensuring it’s set up for success and delivers the required results. Our scale is one of our strongest assets – we’re not so big that we have layers of management whose salaries we need to cover with large hourly rates, yet we’re big enough that we can handle largescale projects across Australasia. Our Partners are majority shareholders in each business, which means that when you deal with Strategy, you’re dealing with people who have a vested interest in the project achieving its full potential. We place an equal emphasis on strategy and creativity – and we ensure that the work we produce is rooted in strategic intent, so all work created has a specific purpose, with clear objectives. International businesses will always require global thinking, global action and a focus on local delivery. Our network of Partners does exactly that. Strategy is a group of people with varied perspectives, yet they all have the same goal – to create great work. Understanding the nuances of business has allowed them to produce successful work that has a purpose. If you want to learn more about how Strategy can add to your business, both strategically and creatively, visit strategythinking.com

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