This interview includes answers from Jo Holdcroft, Account Director at Lesniak Swann and Joe Lloyd-Allen, Marketing Communications Executive at Nuaire.
GO!: How did the brand-agency relationship start?
Nuaire: We’d been working with another creative agency, and when the Account Manager moved to Lesniak Swann, we followed a few months later. We’ve been working with them for more than 10 years since then, and I’m pleased to say the relationship is stronger today than ever.
Lesniak Swann: The best client-agency relationships are typically built around the people, as much as they are around creativity and ability to deliver campaigns. We took on an experienced account manager and after a few months Nuaire, who had been a client of hers from a previous agency, got in touch and we’ve worked together ever since. It did, however, put us in the predicament of having to hire another account manager to take over the other accounts!
GO!: What was the brief?
Lesniak Swann: I remember the E-stack campaign, a product area that Nuaire wasn’t known for. Many of the concepts focussed on the natural side of the product which was important to show how the units worked. We have since used this approach to demonstrate how other units and products work, as it helps to bring the technology to life. The Hybrid campaign was a fun brief to work on, and Nuaire’s willingness to trust our creative concept and roll with it has meant we’ve been able to do some really engaging campaign activity. The Hybrid campaign won several leading marketing and building industry awards.
GO!: What moments stand out as being the most memorable during the brand-agency relationship?
Nuaire: There’s been lots. The one that stands out though is the ‘Dave’ campaign, and one that we use as a benchmark for our future campaigns. Not just in terms of how a campaign looks, but the way in which it was expertly rolled out across all sales training and supporting assets. The success of this campaign, which used some bold messaging and the first time we’d been brave enough to do so, has given us the confidence to be even bolder with future campaigns.
Lesniak Swann: The Dave campaign was the first one that really pushed the boundaries for Nuaire. Whenever we present concepts, we always include options; conservative through to challenging. What was great with this campaign, was Nuaire had the guts to go for it, because it was something completely different from anything they’d done before. It created a real buzz in the HVAC sector amongst their customers and within the business itself. It was also a pivotal point in our brand-agency working relationship. Not only did they have the confidence to go along with our recommendations, but it also brought in the commercial results, and multiple awards too.
GO!: What have been some key challenges you have faced together and how did you overcome them?
Nuaire: There’s been a few, but GDPR is the one that really stands out. Because we’re part of a larger group, we took a very belt and braces approach to ensure we did everything by the book. Another frequent challenge we face is down to the industry we’re in, where regulations are constantly changing, so we’ve had to learn to be adaptable (as has our agency)!
Lesniak Swann: I agree, GDPR was a challenging time (not just for Nuaire but for all our clients and for us as an agency too). As a result, Nuaire’s contact list was reduced by a third – so fairly significant – but at the time everyone was very cautious. As for the regular regulatory changes in the HVAC sector, we’ve become used to reacting to changes in product/regulations and build in additional elements to keep campaigns alive and exciting, if changes or delays occur. This was the case with Dave, and more recently with the launch of Nuaire’s Haven indoor air ventilation system, so we built in teaser elements that enable us to keep interest and momentum until the product or system is ready for launch.
GO!: Did the pandemic change the dynamic of the partnership? How so?
Nuaire: It hasn’t changed the dynamic as such. We’re based in Caerphilly in Wales, and Lesniak Swann are based in Stoke so we only ever met face to face a handful of times a year.
Lesniak Swann: Because we’ve always worked together remotely it didn’t impact as much – except we do more over video calls now rather than regular telephone calls, so we get to see their faces more frequently.
GO!: What do you think is the key to success in a brand-agency relationship?
Nuaire: For us there are two important factors; understanding our business and the need for transparency throughout the process of delivering campaigns. Ventilation isn’t a sexy industry. Having an agency who completely understands us, our customers, the solutions we offer, and the market means half the battle is already done.
Transparency is also key. We work with agencies who sometimes, when we give a brief, it appears to go into a black-hole, and we don’t see anything until the end (at which point it could be way off point). We’re a complicated business and it helps that we have the confidence in Lesniak Swann in the way they conduct their creative process so we can feed in and adapt if needed.
A few agencies we’ve worked with will also just do what we ask, there’s no debate. Lesniak Swann continuously challenge us and ask us the questions that sometimes we’re too afraid to ask internally. Having this level of third-party input gives us the confidence to know we’re on the right track.
Lesniak Swann: For us, the briefing process is the most important part of any campaign. We put a lot of emphasis on it to ensure that we’re crystal clear on the commercial purpose and single-minded proposition of a campaign, so we can make sure that what we present back is both relevant and engaging and by virtue, effective. It’s this level of collaborative thinking between us and the client that has enabled us to develop some incredible campaigns over the years.
GO!: How do you measure success in your brand-agency relationship?
Nuaire: We’ve worked together for more than ten years and there’s a standard we expect from Lesniak Swann. It’s great to work with an agency who continues to excite us with their creative insight and ability to expertly tap into the psyche of our customers in a way that works both on a commercial level and that depicts our brand’s authenticity and is recognised through awards and accreditations.
Lesniak Swann: We measure success by making sure we hit every brief and that the client is happy. Then we drill down to ensure that each aspect of a campaign is monitored and analysed to track effectiveness. Then there’s the awards that we enter (and win in most cases for Nuaire) which provides a great indicator of success for both the brand and for us as their lead creative agency.
GO!: What is the most important factor when it comes to having a great relationship with the brand/agency you are working with?
Nuaire: Being comfortable enough to talk and have open and candid discussions, especially when we’re discussing quite technical information. Being able to debate key issues is important to us. Sometimes it can feel like we’re working in a bit of a vacuum, and the questions that Lesniak Swann ask are the ones that we wouldn’t necessarily think of internally.
Lesniak Swann: As the agency we never make assumptions. Our relationship is built on mutual respect and trust, so we feel comfortable asking questions. This is important so that we absolutely understand the product, the tech, or the purpose of each campaign. Because it’s a technical industry and we’re not engineers, it’s important that we get into the nitty gritty.
GO!: What is the biggest misconception that you hear about working with an agency?
Nuaire: I began my career in the technical product team before joining marketing, and as an outsider had the perception that agencies were all like Mad Men, jetting off to New York, long boozy lunches and lavish dinners. Another misconception is that the bigger the agency, the more creative they are. But I’ve not found this to be the case at all.
Lesniak Swann: As a smaller agency you do need to overcome the idea that we’re not as creative, inventive, or even fun. We’re often referred to being an agency with big city thinking, outside of the city.
GO!: What are you most excited for regarding the future of your brand-agency relationship?
Nuaire: For Nuaire the big focus is on building our brand. Our vision is to become a household name and be the go-to brand for products in the ventilation market – that’s the aspiration at least. We want to be to ventilation what Dyson is to vacuum cleaners. Having experienced massive success in the past with our creative campaigns, in terms of them cutting through and reaching a wider audience, we’re looking forward to seeing what Lesniak Swann can do to help us achieve this.
Lesniak Swann: From our point of view, we’re most excited about being given the space to come up with the campaign ideas and creative and push the boundaries in the way we deliver them, all of which supports their company vision. It’s exciting to work with an organisation that also has a sense of humour borne from a strong culture. A lot of the campaigns we deliver for Nuaire really draw that out.
The GO! Network work regularly with brands to help them benchmark existing agency performance, or connect them to new agency partners. If you’re looking for advice or support on building agency relationships, put some time in with us.