A bar code. You wouldn’t think a simple collection of thin black lines and some numbers would give someone a sleepless night, be the cause of what felt like hundreds of meetings and be one of the biggest stress points in our whole adventure. But it was.
Who knew there were so many different types, and seemingly thousands of regulations, and that if you get them wrong your entire shipment is useless (this is the bit that specifically caused Harvey’s [Austin, who was in charge of bar codes] tortured, sleepless nights)?
As an industry, we’re awash with creators, designers, thinkers and doers. We understand customers and we understand how to speak to them.
But as with everything to do with launching Home Run (our very own sports nutrition bar thought up, created, produced, packaged up, brought to life and now being sold by us here; you know, if you want to buy a few), it was a learning curve.
Above: The Home Run bar.
Overall, it was massively satisfying (a bit like the bar itself). The collective pride in the agency of actually doing it was immense; from an idea 18-months previously, to holding the actual product in their hands, to seeing people actually buying it, despite the best efforts of a certain pandemic. And this is why we would urge anyone in our industry to take on the challenge and launch their own product.
Our staff now have a level of experience they would never have achieved working on our regular day-to-day business.
As an industry, we’re awash with creators, designers, thinkers and doers. We understand customers and we understand how to speak to them. We have all the skillsets required to move beyond supporting other people’s products and making our own. But we don’t seem to put this into practice enough, despite the obvious benefits. And as well as the satisfaction and achievement (and extra revenue... eventually) the extended positives that your business and people will benefit from can be huge. Here are three from our experience.
With no client to hide behind, the buck stops with you.
Diversification of skillsets
Every day was a new challenge. Most of them completely different from anything our experience had given us the tools to manage, but our people just hit them head-on and worked their way through. And on the other side, our staff now have a level of experience they would never have achieved working on our regular day-to-day business and outputs.
A deeper understanding of what your client is looking for
Once you’ve walked a mile in their shoes, etc... By fully understanding the pressures and challenges of actually getting something made and sold, it will most definitely give you a renewed respect and understanding of the thought processes and stress factors clients are battling with every day. However, this does come with its challenges. With no client to hide behind, the buck stops with you. Every decision is yours and the canvass is completely blank to start with - no parameters, no walls and nothing to stop you.
Break the chains and strive for freedom. Which is actually scary and weird and stressful.
As a creative, there is also a weird world in which you finally have the chance to be uninhibited by cliches or tropes you’ve been wishing you could avoid your entire career; you can break the chains and strive for freedom. Which is actually scary and weird and stressful.
Pushing people out of their comfort zone
We all know that when the heat is on, the people in this industry are some of the most industrious, intelligent and innovative fixers around. But watching how eager people were to get involved with something they had no experience of, and thriving because of it, was amazing. You could see their confidence growing by the day as they were forced to put their expertise to work in different ways and overcome brand new challenges.
It seems strange that more agencies don’t launch their own products.
One specific example was the packaging, which is one of the aspects we’re most proud of. As creatives, we yearn for a blank canvas, but when we actually had one it proved a harder starting point than imagined. We looked at what else was out there; it was awash with pastel colours of mountainous vistas or neon blasts screaming for attention. So, we went in completely the opposite direction and removed all colour, focussing instead on a black and white graphic that creates a real sense of energy and movement. Then we moved the logo to one side, to allow the graphic to take up as much space on the wrapper as possible. We purposely set out to create something people would want to photograph before they even took a bite. Even our website scrolls left to right instead of up and down.
So, it seems strange that more agencies don’t launch their own products. We have the skillsets and the benefits are clear to see. We all face bigger problems every day in our actual jobs than sorting out a barcode. And I guarantee you’ve all had at least one sleepless night over a production. So, the biggest step is finding the bravery to do it.