A Week in My Life: Richard Taylor, Co-founder of Brandon Consultants
Richard Taylor is Co-founder and Managing Partner of Brandon Consultants.
The FMCG brand agency is based in Wilmslow, Cheshire, and has BirdsEye, Ferrero, Princes Foods, Symington’s and Pets Choice among their clientele.
Richard fills us in on what a week in his working life is like...
I awake 30mins before my alarm was scheduled to go off and thank god I did. Its 4am and I’m scheduled to fly out of Manchester to Amsterdam in a few hours to meet a couple of clients and a new business opportunity. Sod's law that the flight has been cancelled and I luckily get an email from the lovely people at Flybe before I shoot off. So I try for the life of me to get some more shut-eye but end up just rolling around until my two-year old walks in at 5.30am. Its gonna be a good week!
A change of plan sees me drop off my girls off at school and head into the office for our 9.00am production meeting. A chance for all of the team to catch up on the work schedule for the week ahead, a review of what we achieved last week and a little bit of an update on what's needed for reviews later in the month.
I hop back to my desk and quickly rewrite my to-do list, a ritual that helps me set out what the key strategic goals are for the week so I don’t get lost in the tactical day-to-day.
I’ve got a full on day planning for a new project that we’d love to win. So, our recently joined Strategic Planner Louise and I lock ourselves away and start setting the presentation story. Nothing simpler than a 100 sheets of A4 and a black sharpie. We map it out on the wall and move it around until we feel like we’ve got a compelling strategic point-of-view on the challenge in hand.
It’s a rarity that we will entertain competitive unpaid strategic pitches - it's so wasteful on everyone’s side and someone always ends up the loser. We have some of the world’s best brand design consultancies in the process and I know that none of us would do a bad job. The never ending catch-22 pitch situation that only we can decide if we want to take part in moving forward.
A quick call with our founding client Vlerick Business School in Ghent to thrash out our latest brand campaign for them. Great that we’ve managed to work with them for seven years and just how we know each other so well.
I sleep in until being awoken by my five-year-old daughter at 6am - Is it still only Tuesday! Same breakfast ritual with a dog walk thrown in for good measure today. Always a good way to start clearing your mind in a field with a frisbee and a crazy vizsla desperate for my attention.
A full on day of internal and telephone meetings in the studio, with one landmark meeting that sets out our stall for the next three to five years. The office move, Christ not another one.
But this time we will be more than doubling our space and the numbers have skyrocketed to a number that I need to get my head around. The agent comes in and we start to plan out the space and commitments from either side. The cat and mouse negotiations begin.
Anna (Office Manager) and I start to look at fit-out companies and I rapidly put a call out on Linkedin for the good and the great of the North West to chip in with recommendations.
Just after lunch, I catch up our new Account Director Gary who has moved over from the client dark side to embrace the wonderful world of agency life. We walk through the live programmes and I give him a rundown of all the client partners that he will be leading with Simon, our Client Service Director.
As we close towards the end of the day I grab 15 mins with our Creative Director Steve to go over the final tweaks to the ongoing saga that is the Brandon website!
Talk about a busman's holiday, it's so hard to dedicate time to your own marketing when you are so busy helping clients grow.
Its 6pm and I finally sit down at my desk and check my to-do list from yesterday. I can luckily cross off the office move and website from the list and head home.
Whose bright idea was it to put a shout out on Linkedin for interior design and office fit-out companies!? Linkedin has gone mental, 20,000+ views of the original post and about 100 private messages to go through. Well, that was the first hour of the day lost.
I write on the original post saying please no more, but they continue to stream in through the day.
I check in with the client service team on a few projects that I’m leading to see all is on track and do the same again with a few of the design team, then its time to head over to a pub in Halifax to meet a dear old colleague and friend to discuss the agency’s strategy for growth and see if she can impart some words of wisdom to help shape my thinking. I find you sometimes can’t see the wood for the trees when you are knee deep in Peppa Pigs mud, these sessions are so helpful to clear my thinking.
I get back into the studio late afternoon and jump onto a call with a client we are working with in New York. A great progress report with clear actions and tight timeframes to be hit.
With the day drawing to a close I have a quick look at our monthly sales forecast and new business pipeline to see if there is anything else I can jump on tomorrow. I focus in on those jobs that are 75-90% approved to see if there is anything we can do to move them into live projects, move them into the next calendar month or kill them.
My years at WPP made me more numbers focused than most agencies I’ve ever seen outside of the bean counting world of Sir Martin Sorell.
A day on the road with Louise and Charlotte (Client Service Manager) to two exciting new business opportunities just outside London. The first meeting is with an old client that has moved jobs and has asked me to come in and take a look to see if we can help, the second with a current FMCG client that needs some help on projects in Europe.
We set off from my house at 7am and are all knackered from a manic week, luckily the M6 has been kind to us on the way down so we grab a bite to eat for breakfast at the Pret-A-Manger in Biscester Outlet village (if you’ve not been and love shopping then make a stop when you are next there, they do it well).
Charlotte jumps on a weekly call whilst Louise and I review Monday’s strategic musings which have now made it from paper to PowerPoint. Both meetings go well and we head back up North stopping at the M6 Toll services for our ritual Leon. Its all about the food as we head back and get back to my house for 8pm.
I get home and crack open the Macbook to go through the day's emails. Luckily the team back in the studio have covered all the live project emails and there are a few strategic ones that need checking. Board meeting in the morning with our Non-Exec Richard and accountant John. Time to pull together the board-pack and get to bed for a full on Friday.
Anna and I sit down at 9am to go through the week’s finances and the inevitable search for the office contractor. We’ve whittled down a list of people we’d like to see to help us with the design and fit-out so set some dates in the diary to meet people. I love the prospect of a new office as we are cramped now, but the pain of getting there is like my own mini-Grand Design.
Richard and John arrive for 10am and we settle down to a couple of hours reviewing the good, the bad and the ugly with some tough decisions being tabled and ones that I know I’ve been putting off for too long. Both of them hold the mirror up and let me get there in my own time, but I know they are thinking “just bloody get on with it”.
We hit lunch. Richard and John both leave so I go upstairs to see the design and client services team to catch up on the day-to-day. My focus isn’t on the jobs that are moving along swimmingly but those that are getting sticky and need a second pair of eyes.
Luckily, I’ve been in design for over 20 years now and I can pretty quickly offer direction to help move things on.
We get a weekly OKR (Objectives & Key Results) reminder on Slack - it's where we sit down and post our reflections on the week that’s gone and what we’ve achieved in it. A cathartic moment to determine if it has been a good one or a frustrating one.
Again mostly in a great place. I just focus in on the problem children to see if I can help offer some words of wisdom. We’ve gone beyond the difficult first album phase and are now in strong growth mode, with that comes a whole host of resourcing challenges.
Agencies are all about people and I do my best to treat the people in the business like an extension of my family. I valued that in the best companies that I worked with before setting up Brandon with my wife Abi seven years ago.
A quick look at the work schedule for the week ahead before I close down my laptop and head home, where I can be found crashing with a beer in hand in front of ‘Have I Got News for You’. Sometimes I make it to the end and sometimes I fall asleep half way through!