Five minutes with Rachel Brandt
Rachel Brandt, head of creative at Code3, discusses the history of the digital marketing agency, the challenges of managing creatives, and how these difficulties may be overcome.
Tell me a little bit about Code3 as a company?
We started as SocialCode, and we were actually Facebook’s first API partner. We've been around since there was an industry here, and over the years we expanded to other social and digital platforms such as Google, programmatic, video and streaming audio. Five years ago, we started the creative arm, particularly as the social channels became much more visually dynamic advertising channels and creative was what moved the needle on performance. We had a ton of social data, and knew what was trending performance-wise and what assets clients needed to be first movers on new ad formats. By being a first mover in linking creative to paid social, we kept our edge. The creative team that I lead today was centred around this concept.
Three years ago, we acquired a leading Amazon partner and Commerce agency, MarketPlace Strategies. At that point, we rebranded to Code3 so creative, commerce and media all work together. Now, there’s no daylight between those different arms and disciplines. I think one of the things that I've been most passionately excited about is having the opportunity to work on massive enterprise brands like Chipotle or Sherwin Williams, but also brands that are just getting started, or brands that are changing how we go to market, like Framebridge or Daily Harvest. Getting to have the experience on both ends is really rewarding. It’s fun to think about what a brand needs based on where they sit in their market or lifecycle every day.
You are the head of creative, so what are some of the challenges of managing a creative team?
I think the biggest challenge is that things change all the time. You have to instil a culture of acknowledging that change is good and change is going to happen, because every time we establish this is how we do it or this is what we should be doing, there's a new thing that might come up. So, if you say yes to things and experiment, that’s how we mark success and I think our brands really appreciate that too. I believe the second you have a rigid 'Here's how it goes' mentality, you diminish your ability to innovate and grow.
I understand you’ve deployed interesting tactics to overcome these difficulties. What are they?
We have creative strategists really leading the business, and they partner with our brands and work with them every single day. I always say to them, “Here's a job description but we're not that rigid with it.” If they have an interest, if there's something that they're good at and a brand needs it, they should deliver that. We have some strategists with writing backgrounds, and we tell them, if there's copy needed, you don't always need to go directly to a copy writer. If you are interested in that, you've been working really close with the brand, and you know that brand's voice really well then deliver that.
It really has created a team of makers and creators who will be able to look across the toolbox and deliver really high quality content for our brands at speed. It helps us get it done very, very quickly, (and cost effectively for the client) so it's a different approach to the work. I come from a traditional agency where you've got your account person, your strategist, your director, your designer, your copywriter, your motion graphics person, your producer, your project manager. All of those roles are important, I totally acknowledge that, but sometimes there's the ability to streamline that process and get things out the door. For instance, we've got some brands where we are looking at work on Tuesdays and Thursdays and launching every week because we want to keep that content really fresh. We ask ourselves, “How do we think differently about how to structure our teams and bring everyone's best self to work every day?”