Power of Agency Brands: In Conversation with Quiet Storm



Culture, consistency and integrity: building Quiet Storm’s strong agency brand

Creativebrief’s Stephanie Nattu speaks to Rania Robinson, CEO and Partner at creative agency Quiet Storm

Rania Robinson gives us her insights, tips and opinions on what makes a strong agency brand to kick off our series of interviews with senior agency leaders.

For the employee-owned creative agency; integrity, consistency and having a distinctive, strong sense of who you are is the recipe to success. Quiet Storm is all about positively transforming businesses, lives and society through creativity: creativity with purpose.

But it’s also all about culture. Rania tells us:

Culture informs everything, it informs the talent you can bring in and keep and then the experience clients are going to have with our teams.

Rania Robinson, CEO and Partner at Quiet Storm

We hear all what makes Quiet Storm different, how the agency landscape has changed in the last 10 years and Robinson's recipe for success.

Watch the full interview:

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 Rania Robinson is the first in a series of many to come. You can visit the Power of Agency Brands hub here to check out the other interviews.


Stephanie Nattu x Rania Robinson, Interview Transcript

Steph: Hi, I'm Stephanie Nattu, Associate Board Director and Business Director at Creativebrief, welcome to the agency brand leader interview series. Today we have the lovely Rania Robinson CEO and partner of Quiet Storm. Thank you so much for joining us Rania.

So, let's get started. Tell us a little bit briefly about your agency brand and your proposition

Rania: Okay so we talk about positively transforming businesses lives and society through creativity and we do that through what we call ‘creativity with purpose’ and I guess it's got a couple of dimensions to it.

I think lots of people have kind of in some ways purpose has been hijacked now to be social purpose and kind of changing the world and we have an element of that through our ‘create not hate’ not-for-profit organization. But we talk about it in the kind of original sense of the word which is about building meaning around your brand and your business that goes above and beyond just your products and services.

Steph: So what makes your agency brand unique in three words?

Rania: Well I think our not-for-profit organization ‘create not hate’ brings a really interesting dimension to the business where it brings kind of underrepresented talent into the industry and it brings a whole pool of talent that we can access that can bring a fresh perspective to brand challenges and brand opportunities.

I guess we have that the employee ownership trust component to the business is really unusual and also the fact that we write and direct and produce our own work as well. I know that, you know, businesses do have production components but for us the big difference is that the creatives write and direct you know big TV work as well as the kind of smaller content led work.

Steph: Why is it important for you to continue to always build your agency brand?

Rania: Well I think very much like the work we do for our clients when you're building a brand it's such a competitive landscape, whatever industry or marketplace you're operating in, and it's really important to have a clear sense of who the brand is so you can differentiate yourself and distinguish yourself from your competitors.

I think it's it you know it kind of shortcuts and navigates customer choice and client choice so you know the same applies to how we build our own brands. It's very easy for a client to get a strong sense of what kind of service to offer and what you stand for and what you're going to provide as a service for them.

Steph: In your opinion what makes an agency brand strong?

Rania: I think integrity is really important. I think like with any brand you want that consistency that gives you a really strong sense of what a brand stands for and they're living and breathing it and acting it out all the time.

I think consistency is so important. Having a distinctive strong sense of who you are is really important as well. The danger is you just try to appeal to everybody and then sort of don't really powerfully enough appeal to anybody. So I think for us what we've learned is over the years is to really strongly embrace who we are and be confident that there's enough clients out there that are going to love that. And not everybody's going to love it and that's absolutely fine but the people that do really love it they really love it and they end up becoming really strong advocates really long-standing loyal customers.

And like I said you really do stand out when you're up against other agencies because you've got that strong sense of who you are. For us we feel like yeah there's enough people out there that have those shared values have those shared philosophies and you know you'll have that strong connection with.

Steph: Is there a difference say compare that to 10 years ago in terms of what makes an agency brand?

Rania: I think it's more important now than ever to be distinctive like it is in any category to be honest because there's so much more competition and it's more complex and there's so many more business models and different propositions and different offerings. Our clients’ needs have changed massively and so they need stronger navigation around what they're buying to make it kind of easy for them to be really clear on okay that's going to fit that need versus that. So I think more than ever now having a strong sense of the agency's brand what they stand for what they're going to get and making sure as an organization you deliver against that brand as well that what you're putting out in the world the experience isn't disappointing for clients when they come in.

And actually experience that because that sort of can be a short-lived relationship so that goes back to the integrity point is that you've got to have a brand with integrity through consistency and living and breathing it.

Steph: what would be your number one tip to other agency leaders to help them build their agency brand?

Rania: I think being yourself is really important I think where we've gone wrong is when we've sort  of tried to sort of be something we're not and I think what we've done over the  years is really embrace who we are and like I said recognize that that's not going to be for everybody but there's going to be plenty of people  out there where that's a perfect fit and they become really strong meaningful relationships so yeah I would say just celebrate the truth of who you are and embrace it and yeah I love that I really love that.

Steph: What are your wider plans for the rest of the year for your agency brand?

Rania: I think for us it's focus. I think it's been challenging you know it has been a tough couple of years for the industry for the economy for the country and I think just making sure that we are deploying our efforts and resources in a very considered way I think to make sure that we are living up to our brand if you like. And being able to deliver on the promise that we put out there. So I think for us it's very much about focus.

Steph: yeah and I really really appreciate that because there are so many things that a new business and a marketing team and a senior leadership team could do to strengthen their brand but you can't do it all so to me it's very much like what are those three things that you are  going to do until the end of the year that's going to get the most return?

Rania: Well I think for us we've always strongly focused on culture and I think that is something that we're going to continue on because the culture informs everything.

It informs the talent you can bring in, it informs the talent you can keep, it informs the kind of experience our clients are going to have with our teams because they're feeling inspired and motivated and invested. So we will continue to invest in culture.

Putting out great work again because the evidence is in the work and delivering really effective powerful work so that's always going to be something where we're going to put a strong focus.

The third thing is to make sure we're just enjoying ourselves a bit you know it's a fun industry we've all come into it because we don't want to be doing the kind of mundane boring jobs and I think sometimes that can get forgotten a bit is we just want to make sure we still have fun as well.

Steph: brilliant I love that two more for you, so which agency brand do you most admire and why?

Rania: well I really admire Lucky Generals and I think because it's very rare that I've seen a piece of work come out of there that I haven't loved and I think it's back to that point of consistency you know that that they're  going to do some great work I think Helen's incredible I've  got a lot of respect for Helen as a leader as well obviously I've  got relationship with her through WACL and yeah I think they're just solid they've been around a long time and  they're consistently doing great stuff

Steph: How do ESG Frameworks inspire or build into creating strong agency brands?

Rania: Well I think it goes back to the culture point that I was making and I think people need to believe in what they're doing and believe in the people they're working for now more than ever, particularly the new generation of people coming into the industry. I think if you don't have strong ethical values as an organization it's going to put a lot of people off wanting to work with you. I think even at brand level you can't operate in isolation now as a brand without thinking about the impact you're having on the world and society. We've got to live those values ourselves to help promote that with our clients as well and I think I don't know any organization really that isn't looking at those things they're all on different sort of paths and different levels of the journey if you like but I think for us it's just we simply can't operate now without it and certainly again it's back to the next generation consumer, the next generation employee you just can't operate without that in mind.