& writing for business
A leadership and branding consultancy for studios and creative entrepreneurs.
After 25 years in the business, managing teams of anything from 4 to 100; brand managing the only live action preschool kids’ show ever to sell into the USA; running a business unit in one of the most competitive TV environments in the world while turning it from an early career stepping stone into a destination point for the most talented people in the business, I learnt a thing or two about running a studio. The first being knowledge you keep to yourself has no value.
Do you ever wonder why, in an economy that is increasingly dominated by the creative sector, so many apparently fine studios, agencies and technology businesses, run by sharp eyed creatives with obvious entrepreneurial flair should struggle or fail?
The place is littered with them, and whatever the banks have been doing, too many of them fall into entirely avoidable traps.
The first is endemic in an industry where all you need is talent, a great idea and a computer to start trading. Between you and your partner you’ve got the product and the chutzpah. You’ve got the energy to get it made and the nous to reinvest, find the market and build a business to be proud of. All goes well and pretty soon you are going to have to employ someone. Perhaps quite a few someones.
But how often do those great recruits fail to hit the highs they promised. Before long they are turning in substandard work on an irregular basis. All too soon your quality control becomes a nightmare, profit turns to loss and things get ugly.
Although some take to management instinctively the trouble often starts because for many creatives being a manager has all the attraction of a plate of overcooked cabbage. The word even sounds ugly so many avoid it. They either try to be a mate who writes the paychecks or they think they just need to be the boss. But the relationship is too transactional to be friendship and the problem with being the boss is that “boss” doesn’t come close to describing the work you need to do. If you are running a company you are a leader of men and women with all their foibles and differences.
There are precious few companies in the world with reputations big enough to retain the best while treating them to an indifferent or worse, an intimidating management style. Of course nobody sets out to sabotage their own business. It’s just that once you are up and running there are precious few opportunities to pause and think about how to manage human beings. Taking time out to train is out of the question – but put it on the back burner at your peril. Our workforce is mobile and believe me, every single person who works in a company where management get’s neglected is either ready to stab the boss in the back or they sit in the studio with one eye on their work and the other on the “out door”. What a pity when making a studio “the place to be” has little to do with salary and is all too achievable.
The 2nd reason many of these businesses fail is because they mistake a well executed good idea for a brand. I know branding has become the new management bullshit. Companies pay hundreds of thousands of pounds for a logo nobody likes mistaking brand for branding. Brands matter because in an increasingly crowded market people look for a connection that stretches beyond the product. They need a reason to part with their hard earned money to purchase your goods ahead of somebody else’s.
Brands matter because there are too many great digital design agencies who got fed up with servicing other people’s IP. They got tired of the feast or famine lifestyle and took the plunge; set aside a year or two’s profit or took out a loan and set about building the game they just knew the world has been waiting for. At every stage they went the extra mile. They polished the design until it was total eye candy. They tested and tested it over and over with exactly the right user group and when the feedback came back better than they dreamed of they spent everything they had left on marketing. Then it went on sale. It made back half what it cost to build and died.
Why? Because in a crowded market there was never any reason for someone to buy this game over any other. Because being the best in its class was never going to be enough. Because if you don’t understand what image it creates in the mind of the consumer the chances of presenting it to them in the right way are vastly reduced. Even if it had succeeded there was never any clear idea about what lay at the core. No clear picture what the irreducible fundamental attraction of the product might be. Which meant there was never any clear idea how to build on its success.
Brands are important because they can save your company from folding.
A brand is many things but never forget – it isn’t what you say it is: it’s what they think it is!
What’s involved in consultation?
- You contact me to make an appointment to discuss what you need.
- We then agree parameters, rates and fees and issue contracts.
- Consultations begin at 1 day or can extend to longer periods as appropriate.
Some of the most intractable problems are hardest to see when they are right in front of you. A fresh pair of eyes brings a new perspective. It’s even better when they belong to someone who has been there.
Management or Leadership
Is your team not performing the way you imagined it would? Are clients disappointed or are you just working harder than you should to help them get the product out of the door? When so much of what you want from them is subjective your management approach requires a blend of subtlety, humanity and clarity to build trust. When you build trust you not only get the best you can from a team, you start to attract and keep hold of the best people. I spent years fighting against the prevailing trends to do just that and can help you do the same. Whether it is simply for a project or building a team for the long haul I can help identify the root of poor performance, suggest quick fixes and subtle changes that lead to long term solutions.
Launching a product? (Or is it a brand?)
If you want to launch a product of your own rather than servicing other people’s i.p.:
- Do you feel you know your target customers as well enough?
- Do you know what your product will represent to them?
- Do your people understand your communications?
- Do you all speak the same “brand” language?
Don’t take the plunge until you can answer yes to all the above. I can help get you there.
Writing for your business
I have vast experience writing for business:- from technical reports through scripts for news and current affairs documentaries to fictional narratives for five year olds. If you know what you want to say but need someone else to find the words, contact me to discuss rates.