Talking Biz Dev and Bauhaus
Written by Ben McNutt, Head of Creative
At Butchershop, we have the mission of helping leaders turn ideas into brands people love. It’s a fun job. Maybe the best job. We get to immerse ourselves in many different industries, company cultures, and social spaces. A career for the curious.
It also means we often find ourselves collaborating with the founders and business leaders of companies more than with marketing teams, brand managers, and designers. We’re the creative folks in a room full of business and product minds.
I love it. But it’s a skill to get both parties on the same page. And not all creatives or agencies have it.
As head of creative here at the agency, one of my responsibilities is helping our creative teams communicate the value of what they do to people who speak Biz Dev not Bauhaus. Imagine an ex-graffiti artist waxing about brand design with a software engineer or Wharton School grad.
Now imagine how easily that could go sideways.
For my teams, I hate seeing great work die on the pitch floor. For our client partners, I hate seeing them pass up on creativity that might get them the double digit growth they desire. (Here’s a not-so secret: We’re much more interested in your success than our own cleverness.)
There’s an irony to all of this lost-in-translation-ness. Each side may not always speak the same language. But they share the same principles.
They really do.
Think about what a brand actually is. It’s the sum total of the thoughts, feelings, and beliefs someone has about a company. It is, in tandem with product, the primary way a person interacts with a business. Put simply, brand is perception.
Businesses are not. They are made up of people, products, shared and individual practices. Common goals and personal pursuits. Budgets, profit margins, P&Ls, and growth strategies. Offices and interfaces.
Yet, for being different, they share a great deal in common. At least the good ones do. Focus, simplicity, transparency, flexibility, vision, reliability. They both have external customers and internal audiences (employees). And the most successful companies, in the long term, maintain tight common threads between their business, their culture, and their brand.
This makes the work of building a brand for a business one of synthesis. Finding the metaphorical links between what a business does and its visual, verbal, and behavioral expressions. This is both an art and a science. It requires thinking in structures and systems and also stories and beliefs. Having business and market IQ as well as creative EQ. Diagnosing where a company is in its business lifecycle, and therefore what its brand needs to do and be. The best brand builders know that this is the real work.
It’s also fucking fun.
What I see younger creatives do, and what we teach here at Butchershop NOT to do, is talk design theory to people who just need a creative solution to their business problem. You’ll rarely get off the ground, let alone land the plane.
So, when we go in to show creative, instead of design intent, we talk about audience impact. Instead of intricacies in a cinematic technique, we talk about how you get to own a feeling that differentiates you from competitors. Instead of slinging copy as one-liners, we talk about the benefit of the benefit in your brand message. (Ok, the one-liners are usually pretty good.)
I can’t attest for all agencies, but I’ve worked at a few, and this is one thing that makes Butchershop a unique company — and what makes us especially poised to help leaders in emerging industries and customer markets, whether you’re prepping for another round of funding, going IPO, or building a new product.
Business is its own kind of creativity. Looking at culture, at industries, imagining something that doesn’t exist, actually can, and then building it. We’re into it. And we speak your language.
Perhaps our tools are different. But it’s a mindset we share.