Power of Agency Brands: In Conversation with Edelman



‘The one thing guaranteed is change’

Matt Brown, Managing Director at PR agency, Edelman UK talks to Creativebrief’s Stephanie Nattu about trust, change and growth in the latest episode of the power of agency brands interview series.

With trust at the core of what Edelman has always done and will always do, Matt talks to us about what else drives the agency. He tells us that having the courage to do the right thing, having the freedom to be constantly curious, and the commitment to positively impact are all part of what has built up the brand over the last 20 years.

When asked about the differences in the agency landscape now and 10 years ago, Matt explains that the difference is the rate of change. In tech, politics, economics, sustainability, impact, etc. the factors existed, and still do, but the way they are adapting and evolving is different. This applies to society and the industry, and how we approach comms going forwards.


You have to approach your agency brand as if it were a client, you have to make the time, it requires work, it can’t be an after-thought

Matt Brown, Managing Director at Edelman UK

Watch the full interview here:

Power of Agency Brands interview series

As the agency landscape continues to shift, change and become more complex and the industry grapples with a state of permacrisis, we set out to distil the power of agency brands: why every agency should dedicate time to developing their brand to cut through the noise, win big and just how they can go about building it.

As part of this, we’ve been chatting to some of the top agencies in the industry to get their thoughts, insight and future plans. Our own Stephanie Nattu has interviewed agency leaders about their own approach to building a strong agency brand, why they personally think it’s important to build up their brands, which other agency brands they admire and more.

This interview with Matt Brown is episode 3. You can visit the Power of Agency Brands hub here to check out the other interviews.

Stephanie Nattu x Matt Brown Transcript

Steph: Hi my name's Stephanie Nattu, I'm Associate Board Director and Business Director at Creativebrief. Welcome to another episode of the agency brand leader interview series. Today we have Matt Brown. Thank you Matt for joining us.

So to kick us off tell us a little bit about your agency brand and proposition.

Matt: so we're Edelman, we're an integrated Global Communications firm that partners with businesses and organizations to evolve, promote and protect their brands and reputations and our mission is simple we provide strategic communications council and programming which enables our clients to build strong relationships across stakeholders influence attitudes inform audiences and shape behaviours with the potential to have a positive impact in society. We live and breathe a four kind of core values

- the first is the relentless pursuit of excellence

- the second is the freedom to be constantly curious

- the third is the courage to do the right thing

- and the fourth is the commitment to positively impact society

all of this is underpinned by trust and I'm going to talk a bit about trust over the course of this conversation because it's something that we've studied for over 23 years and you know we believe that trust is the ultimate kind of currency and it's something that's so important to us and so important to the work that we do with our clients.

Steph: What makes your agency brand unique in three words?

Matt: So trust, but, earned as a mindset, not as a channel and finally it's the intersection of communication. So it's not three words I'm giving you a bit more than that but it's the intersection of communications because you know what we believe is that you no longer have a single audience you're talking to audiences and actually it's about how do you develop an idea that can live and breathe and work for all of those audiences.

Steph: Why is it important to continue to build a strong agency brand?

Matt: The world is changing, everyone's seen that, you've seen that, and for me I know for ours the one thing that is guaranteed is change. So you know what this means as an agency is you have to evolve. That doesn't mean forgetting who you are and where you've come from but it does mean developing new points of view and that's what kind of clients expect. We're here to partner and help advise our clients so we need to understand trends, themes, topics, thinking, thought leadership, whatever it might be, but ultimately we need to be able to offer up points of view on how a client and its brand can navigate all of this. It's also important for the agency team 0 we want them to feel part of something, something exciting, something current, and that we as Edelman at the forefront of that change in thinking. It's also really great in attracting talent as well.

Steph: In your opinion what makes up a strong agency brand?

Matt: Agencies are made up of different disciplines, specialisms, capabilities and really the skill is in bringing all of that together to create something really special for clients. If you can harness all of this amazing talent and creativity in the right way then you're on to something very special but also this is a human-based business and ultimately it always comes down to the power of relationships.

Steph: Is there are a difference from say 10 years ago to what makes up a strong agency brand today?

Matt: Yes we're in a very different world to where we were 10 years ago. We've all experienced the last few years and really the changes that we've seen across all different fronts, like political, economic, societal, sustainability and impact, tech, health, you name it - it's evolved and it's changed and it's not that these weren't factors 10 years ago it's just that the rate of change, the pace and the evolution of that change is different. So on top of this you've got the fact that audiences have evolved, as have the channels, and the way that they both communicate and consume communications. So you have to bring all of this together to approach communications, campaigning or thought leadership it has to evolve and you have to reflect that back through the agency, in your agency brand.

Steph: What would be your number one tip to other senior agency leaders to help them build a strong agency brand?

Matt: You have to approach your agency brand as if it were a client you have to make the time, it requires work, it can't be an afterthought or something you do in downtime.

Steph: What are you doing to continue to build your agency brand for the rest of the year?

Matt: Trust will continue to be at the core of who we are. We will continue to galvanize around the concept that trust drives growth and action enables trust, and then in London we've just moved into this brand new building that redefines how we work together. This has injected brilliant new energy into the business, it's not only a great space for client and team collaboration, but also it's a great calling card for new talent.

Steph: Which agency brand do you most admire and why?

Matt: I think for me adam&eve, I've always loved them, they're a brand that have always focused on creativity and it shows - especially in the work that they do, the brands that they work with, the awards that they've won, the team around all of that, they've built something so special. But it's always always been focused on creativity and the power of creativity and I love that.