There's no "i" in team (but there is in The Apprentice)
Last Wednesday our modest London creative agency swapped ad breaks for BBC primetime, when we appeared on 'The Apprentice Final'. Our role: to help Lord Sugar's final two contestants, Luisa and deserved winner Leah, bring their business proposals to life.
Leah Totton: Apprentice winner introduces Niks
As when working with our existing – somewhat more experienced clients – we relished the challenge of a collaborative environment and a tight deadline of just 24 hours to get their ideas ready for a room full of industry experts, with required materials including logos and full branding, implemented across a suite of digital assets and launch films.
And while our level of consultation wasn’t quite what we’re used to – as ever, the format offering the finalists enough rope to hang themselves – it shouldn’t have taken a roomful of marketing professionals to know that the name Niks might not cut it for a cosmetic brand whose primary service is sticking sharp things into its customers’ faces, or that a baking brand with a soggy-bottomed proposition ("cake tins, utensils, colours…" anyone?), had bigger cakes to bake than branding.
The introductory video for Luisa’s business – a wholesaler of baking supplies to other professionals – should probably not have been shot in a family kitchen. Nor have been quite so pink.
And if the naming of Leah’s cosmetic procedures brand was ill-advised, her logo choice was just as poorly considered – some will recognise the entwined snakes and wings emblem as a medical symbol, but to many more it may suggest another kind of needle-based procedure that those who undergo generally end up regretting.
Even if, as is usually the case in our position as agency partners, we had been tasked with helping to shape the strategy and the creative direction of the ideas, it would have been to little avail. When the pair’s own teammates offered occasionally sage words, stubborn pride came, if not before a fall, then, in the case of the winning idea, a Sugar mandated re-brand (to Dr Leah).
Our role: to help Lord Sugar's final two contestants, Luisa and deserved winner Leah, bring their business proposals to life.
Whilst such hubris can be understood in the excitement of the circumstances, being one hurdle away from your idea securing a £250,000 investment and a business partner not short of a few bob himself, this lack of compromise or consideration of the words and opinions of others is concerning.
Working with entrepreneurial thinkers, from "boutique" brands like premium drinks maker Fever Tree through to tech giant Panasonic, we’re always looking for disruptive, engaging ways to communicate the brand story.
And crucially, while the spark of an idea may originate from one, its final execution benefits from the expertise of many, beginning a narrative that is subsequently shared and built upon with those consumers who wish to interact with the brand.
The proliferation of social media has long since demanded an openness and willingness to include and involve – agencies and clients no longer being the sole custodians of their products’ messages.
Notwithstanding Leah’s – and to a lesser extent, Luisa’s – impressive business acumen and maturity, she may be in for a shock when needing to compromise and collaborate in the real world, where everyone is a potential stakeholder with something to say. Whether she listens is, I suppose, the £250,000 question.
Liam Fenton, creative director, Brave
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