Thought Leadership

Focus on Liverpool – Nick Howe, Managing Director of Uniform

Tom Holmes

Founder & Chairman


Following our recent feature City Brand Leaders – Liverpool, we interviewed a select group of leaders from Liverpool’s top agencies to help focus on the Liverpool brand and consider their own agency vision.

Creativebrief Founder & Chairman Tom Holmes talks to Nick Howe, Managing Director of Uniform.

Nick Howe, Uniform

TH: Nick, what does the Liverpool brand stand for?

NH: Creativity, heritage, vibrancy, entrepreneurialism. It’s always been at the edge – geographically and culturally; it’s got a distinct and individual brand personality and a cultural micro-climate.

If you look at the city skyline from the River Mersey it’s breathtaking. You see the Three Graces, the Albert Dock and the cathedrals. It represents a strong, confident and bold brand, and one that is thankfully beginning to rediscover its confidence again. It’s getting its mojo back!

TH: How can a mayor influence the way the city markets itself?

NH: It sends out all the right signals. Confident, single-minded and determined to make things happen.

Any shift that brings quicker decision-making and a more progressive attitude is good news for business and we’d welcome that. There’s still a great deal of physical change planned for the city region, including the £4.5bn Wirral Waters and £5.5bn Liverpool Waters developments by Peel. Entrepreneurs, investors and tourists will be attracted to a city that is dynamic. A mayor with a can do, confident and ambitious attitude will help spearhead that change.

TH: If you were responsible for marketing Liverpool globally, what would you focus on?

NH: Few cities in the UK have the landmarks of Liverpool. It has got an iconic waterfront that few can compete with, add the two cathedrals and theatres and galleries and it’s a compelling weekend break for tourists.

From a business perspective, it can build on this as a place where you would like to live and work. The great cities of the world, from Barcelona to San Francisco, are places you want to visit, and then want to stay. They have the same energy and fluidity that Liverpool has. Liverpool should carry itself as bold, confident and a great place to live and do business.

TH: How does being based in Liverpool influence your creative output?

NH: Our creative output is influenced by our attitude, our ambition and our confidence, very much like we see the Liverpool of the future. Its heritage still has a strong influence, both as a working class dockland city and as a culturally significant hub. Cities by the sea are different, and Liverpool has enormous wide influences affecting it. For us, being based in Liverpool means that we are ploughing our own furrow, not following the herd like many in London for example. And our influences are global rather than local.

TH: Why should clients consider sourcing work from Liverpool agencies?

I don’t think it’s a case of consider using Liverpool agencies, but more a case of not limiting yourself to using London agencies. We’ve attracted talent from across the country – and internationally – because we’ve established a reputation for innovation and creativity.

Nick Howe, Uniform

There are some great agencies in London, Manchester and in Scotland, but a senior marketer put it simply: “At Uniform you’re willing to invest in quality to be at the forefront. You never seem to be looking over your back at what the others are doing, which means you’ve never let geography get in the way. You just get on with it, which is probably why you win work from Denmark to Canada.”

TH: What makes your agency offer different?

NH: Our process and depth of thinking is second to none, combine this with the mix of skills across the agency and our commitment to research and innovation, and you have something quite unique. It’s also about the culture and the fact that we’re based in Liverpool, clients are often surprised when they discover we’re not based in London!

Over the last 18 months, our research and development platform, ULAB has been making waves. Bringing innovation to client accounts as well as self directed projects has set us apart, with coverage everywhere from BBC Worldwide, to FastCo and Wired. This work specifically has seen us invited to speak and show projects at both SxSW in March, and Future Everything later this year.

TH: What local brands do you most admire and why? 

NH: Liverpool FC for obvious reasons! Warburtons quietly becoming the biggest bread brand in the UK and staying true to its northern roots, Booths supermarkets for doing it that little bit better than everyone else, Peel for its single minded ambition with projects like Liverpool & Wirral Waters, and Co-operative for its ethical approach to business.

TH: What business would you most like to win?

NH: A major drinks brand. Off the back of experience and recent work for Carlsberg, there is so much opportunity to deliver great experiential projects and it’s a sector that is hungry for innovation and open to doing things differently.

TH: Thanks Nick!


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