Mad Men may have introduced the world to life working at ad agencies in the 1960s, but we wanted to offer our members a 2018 update. Enter Hansen Belyea, a full-service marketing agency in Seattle tackling everything from logo design to branding and marketing for clients like Strideline, the Eton School, and Altrider. Husband-and-wife dynamic duo Rob Hansen and Brianna Home are the Creative Director and Strategic Director respectively, and stopped by a recent AMA meeting to give us a glimpse behind the scenes of a modern day agency, and share some of their greatest lessons learned after decades in the business.
This recap has been lightly edited for length.
Knowledge is Transferable
We work in a lot of sectors and sometimes clients are very careful, they ask “have you worked in X industry?” The truth is, you don’t need to have done an identical job before—while the industries might be different, the marketing expertise we bring is the same.
Not everything is glamorous
The finished video is always beautiful and polished, but to here are so many logistics behind making it happen. From the very beginning, there’s so much work and care we take ahead to ask the right questions and figure out what we’re putting in the video, not to mention the logistics. Also, the travel can be glamorous, but sometimes you fly a dozen hours to Vietnam, then drive ten hours on jungle roads, then do an entire video shoot in 120 degree weather. Then after all that, 15 hours of shooting turns into a 3 perfect minutes.
Authenticity is everything
Understand what your story is as a company. How are you positioning yourself against competitors in a way that’s real and genuine? Look at how your competitors are positioning, and how are you different? What makes you special, or the right choice over a rival?
This is applicable even when you’re applying to a job—look at how that company is positioning themselves and what sets them apart.
Don’t be afraid to be different
There’s a tendency to play it safe once you get into a big company, because it feels like you have a lot to lose. The danger in playing it safe is that everyone else is doing it. If it feels true to your company, think out of the box! You want to stand out, not blend in.
Since people can be very protective of their branding and their logo, a campaign can be a good way to test things out and experiment, since it’s more short-term. That said, sometimes the campaigns do influence an overall brand, because we take that risk and it pays off so they know something’s working.
There’s no “right” timeline
One client took 88 days: a whirlwind of rebranding, building a website, and creating a ton of collateral. One client has been working on a project with us that’s at 418 days and counting. Every project is different, and what really matters is that leadership believes in marketing and the power of what we’re working toward
Sometimes your first idea is the best one
During one client rebrand, Ron came up with hundreds of design iterations—and the first one was the genesis of the final, official logo. Don’t automatically discard your first few brainstorm attempts—sometimes an initial spark can become something bigger.
Make it feel real
Put it on collateral, hard hats, website, stationery, magazines, photography. There are so many components to a brand—it’s not just a logo. Mock-up, build a world around what the brand will look like. It makes it easier for people to know whether they like it or not—they can visualize the big picture.
Marketing can be anywhere
Construction advertising on the mandatory legal fencing around construction projects. Out of the box, high awareness, eye-catching. Made a campaign to help them branch out, added messaging like promoting the power of local partnership. Interesting, helps them stand out. They actually ended up taking that fence-signage and messaging and incorporated it into their larger marketing.
Finally, Ron and Brianna had a few key pieces of advice for college students:
#1. Be Patient. Nothing happens overnight, so don’t try to rush it. Work hard, ask good questions, and be willing to listen more than you talk. It won’t be long before you start gaining credibility and earning your boss’ trust.
#2. Do Your Research. Always be prepared to answer the interview question, “What do you know about us?” It’s easier than ever to learn about a company’s values, culture, and accomplishments, so make sure to do your diligence—not just to impress your interviewer, but also to make sure the company is the right fit for you.
#3 Get Involved. Not only is it great learning experience for you, but it also shows passion and commitment.
#4. Know Who’s On Your Side. Which coworkers can you learn the most from? Who around you could be a valuable mentor? It’s not always your boss—look around.
#5. Your Resume Represents You. So make sure it’s flawless! A good design can help your great content stand out too—if graphic design doesn’t come naturally, invest in getting design help from someone else. In the hiring process, a beautiful resume will stand out from the pack and might just convince someone to look at your experience a little longer.
Thank you so much Ron and Brianna!