BITE’s Top Ten Long Reads of 2023
Human insight, AI, breakthrough work and Barbie dominated the top reads of 2023
George Bryant, Group Chief Creative Officer at Golin on creating work that earns its place in culture and busting the cult of busy.
“The path of a creative is zig-zagged and varied,” says George Byrant, a self-proclaimed ‘cheerleader’ of creativity who is embarking on the next step of his winding path as Group Chief Creative Officer at Golin Group.
With a CV that boasts some of the most enviable roles in the industry, Bryant started his journey as a Strategist and moved on to Co-Found The Brooklyn Brothers, one of the most decorated and innovative agencies. The agency has a roster of enviable work from Time For a Rest for the Financial Times to Promote Iceland’s Inspired by Iceland. The secret to maintaining such a high standard of creativity? Ensuring that “work is embedded in culture” Bryant explains.
“Be it in exploring modern capitalism for the FT or in looking at false perceptions of parenthood for Water Wipes; the best work matters in culture and to us as creators” Bryant explains. “In today's coms environment people are so busy, there are so many briefs that it is essential we create works that adds value to culture and to audiences.”
“We’re not starving artists,” Bryant maintains; “we are given the privilege of brands to give voices to the companies we work with.” And with the backing of some of the world's biggest brands, Bryant and his team are able to see the real-world impact of creativity.
We’re not starving artists, we are given the privilege of brands to give voices to the companies we work withGeorge Byrant, Group Chief Creative Officer, Golin Group
In his new role, Bryant has the opportunity to bring his creative potential to an even larger stage; “Golin group has incredible brands; A list brands that you come into this profession to work on. I want to take the strong earned first, work that matters and apply it to some of the biggest opportunities” he adds.
Bryant believes that successful work is all about being immersed in society and culture. He explains: “The key is to always recognise that as a brand you aren't completely in your category you're a part of a wider culture. Truly earned first work cuts through in wider culture because it has a value.” He concludes: “That really is the single most important thing - ensuring that work has a broader, more meaningful voice.”
His experience of starting his own business with his partner Jackie Stevenson led to Bryant finding himself ‘eye to eye with other business leaders.’ And so, he is careful to try and avoid what he describes as ‘boardroomisms’ where creative ideas get lost and ‘true drivers of business’ forgotten. He believes that “the best ideas have a thread of simplicity.”
In today’s ever-changing society, simplicity is crucial to connecting with people quickly. “You look at the last few years and at the volatility of today's culture. Brands have to take a stand and find their voice. What we have to do for business leaders is find that credible voice. Something simple enough to help their business and something culturally savvy enough to genuinely make an impact.”
Culturally relevant creative work is not only able to bring about real-world change but delivers measurable results for brands. “As a creative, I’m obsessive about measurement,” says Bryant; “we can’t forget we are in the business of business and we use our creativity in service of the good things that brands business our clients can do.”
You can't divorce impact and creativity. You can't exist in a world of strategy without creativity - the two have to dance togetherGeorge Byrant, Group Chief Creative Officer, Golin Group
It is only in showcasing the value of creativity that encourages brands to keep investing in exciting, innovative work; “by proving impact will we are given the permission to create momentum” adds Bryant, as he points to the work The Brooklyn Brothers has done with Promote Iceland as an example of how creative excellence leads to outstanding measurable results; a 400% growth of tourism to Iceland. He explains, “The reason we were able to create that momentum is because we were obsessed with creating impact.”
“You can't divorce impact and creativity. You can't exist in a world of strategy without creativity - the two have to dance together.” he adds.
When it comes to measurement Bryant suggests that “where you've got great client-agency relationships you should really look at the commercial metrics attached to proving that the work really matters in culture.” Work that has a real impact is work that brings around a real, societal change; something that can be seen in the work done with Water Wipes where by shattering stereotypes around ‘perfect parenting’ the work has helped enable people to become more accepting, better parents. And while winning awards may be validating, creating work that makes the team proud is also high on the agenda.
The great resignation, or the great reset, has seen people’s priorities shift and wish to take on more meaningful work. In his work with The Brooklyn Brother’s Night School, a free training programme originally designed to address the lack of ethnic diversity in London’s creative industries, Bryant has had first-hand experience with a new generation of creatives and is inspired by their new approaches.
The next generation is changing everything; they don't come at it from this linear, limited viewpoint; they come at it from a makers mentality with a hybrid of things coming together to add some kind of valueGeorge Byrant, Group Chief Creative Officer, Golin Group
“I'm passionate about the next generation and have been privileged to connect with them through Night School. The next generation is changing everything; they don't come at it from this linear, limited viewpoint; they come at it from a makers mentality with a hybrid of things coming together to add some kind of value,” he explains. And this ‘makers mentality’ is an attitude that can be shared by all modern creatives, no matter what generation.
“The work we’ve done with Night School is so inspiring and I want to make sure the door stays open in everything I do.” adds Bryant; “Now with the global vantage point we have at the Golin Group, I’m passionate about using the platform to accelerate the work we've done. Everyone at Golin from Strategists to Creatives to the Exec Board are really committed to continuing it.”
In his new position at the Golin Group, Bryant will oversee “over 100 creatives in the organisation” and is determined to spotlight their achievements, “enable them and make sure we take the time to champion their work.”
“Sometimes we’re too busy being busy and don't see the good things that happen. A big part of my job is to be a cheerleader for culture, for our clients and most importantly for ourselves. I want to help build an agency group that makes work with character and personality that shines through.”
Sometimes we’re too busy being busy and don't see the good things that happenGeorge Byrant, Group Chief Creative Officer, Golin Group
Where The Golin Group is home to different types of creatives from across industries and marketing disciplines, Bryant hopes to pull in those from different backgrounds to make full use of the Group’s full expertise, “creating ideas that live between”. It is a unique position where he is able to be a “bit of a conductor; bringing together the creative voices, making sure all the creatives have a home within their various agencies and then looking at how we can unlock the opportunities in between them on pitches or on client work.”
The opportunity to take a holistic view of the agency and enable connections across teams and across geographies has been further realised by ways of working brought around by the pandemic. As, despite all the hardships that Covid-19 brought, Bryant believes that “If it wasn’t for the past two years, I wouldn’t have this position.”
We are living in an experiment, and placing bets on what we think is rightGeorge Byrant, Group Chief Creative Officer, Golin Group
In the era of remote working, Bryant connected with teams across the world and was granted the ability to work on cross-border briefs. The new, global vantage point offered a creative reset and a broader playing field which was a rewarding experience. He adds “the best ideas are global and universal.”
Navigating out of the pandemic, we reach a collective point in history where we can now choose what learnings to take into the new working world. As Bryant aptly puts it “we are living in an experiment, and placing bets on what we think is right.”
Where remote working has allowed him the ability to connect with people globally, his love of culture makes him an advocate of the office too, and a champion of inhabiting a third space within culture. He added: “I spent the last 20 years of my life commuting but it's not time well spent. What I've relished and what I hope we can hold on to is to inhabit different spaces, work in an art gallery, sit in a coffee shop, take calls walking through the park. There's nothing more inspiring than going outside.”
Where the pandemic has changed almost every aspect of our working and personal lives in some way, Bryant acknowledges the “need to hold on to the good things but commit to rebuilding culture.” As for in the next step of his zig-zagged creative path, a strong connection to culture, celebrating great work and ensuring that the door remains open for those great minds around him is what makes Bryant stand out as a creative force whose contribution has a significant impact beyond the four walls of any office.
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