We’re going through a sustained period of growth, particularly with our head count. The challenge to inspire creatives becomes greater as the team becomes bigger and levels of experience become broader, not to mention ever-increasing client expectations.
Following an internal review, we established that our culture is the focal point of our sustained success over 25 years, despite people coming and going. Invest in your people, give them confidence, show them empathy, understand their humanity, and the values you set become infectious. Not only amongst our staff, but also with the people we work with – our clients.
Why should this be important to clients? All too often prospective clients go to agencies with tired-looking, stale briefs – a ‘cut and paste’ brief for another bunch of creatives. But our job is to inspire brand owners to push beyond their comfort zones. As motivational consultant Simon Sinek suggests: “People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it.” This can only happen if the two parties are aligned, sharing the developmental journey, the wins and the pains along the way.
By understanding each other’s challenges, we build trust. Trust lets us inspire and encourage our clients to go that one step further. This ethos is evidenced by the longevity of many of our client relationships: 24 years with Intel, 12 years with HSBC, and a decade with VMware. It’s also backed up by multiple effectiveness awards wins each year. That shiny glow (and trophy) is our reward for fuelling our clients’ ambitions. And that success often breeds opportunities for even more ambitious projects.
Investment in our people and their continuous development means that clients can buy into a culture of trust. We constantly review whether our staff have the opportunity to grow. In 2019, our learning and development plan was aimed in large part at those who aspire to become Senior Designers or Design Directors – working on their individual growth and challenging them to step up and become leaders within the agency.
We’ve invested in mentoring schemes to ensure that succession planning is developed and then implemented, not just a passing thought. We actively encourage staff to embark on courses that stretch them and give them the chance to embrace and manage their vulnerabilities.
Everybody has a role to play in 2LK’s success and we spend more time together at the office than we do with our partners, friends and families, so we put enjoyment at the heart of our culture: building friendships that last longer than 9-5pm, company celebrations and holiday parties, collaborating on non-client, cross-department projects and much more.
So when we’re looking to recruit, it’s not just about someone’s portfolio or whether they got a first for their degree – we also prioritise cultural fit and shared values. We invest a lot of time sharing this message with the creatives of tomorrow through initiatives like mentoring at University for the Creative Arts, paid work experience, portfolio workshops, one-off seminars, sponsoring awards with Solent University and attending careers fairs. These engagements also help our team build confidence in their presentation skills, so when asked to do so with clients it’s not quite as daunting as it could be.
And so a self-fulfilling prophecy occurs. By nurturing a culture that inspires creativity we develop our people, who inspire the next generation and who challenge client briefs to provide truly effective experiential.