As our tenth year draws to a close, it feels right to pause and reflect on what we've learnt before we move forward into 2014 and, really, as I see it, the next chapter of Folk. Since the beginnings of Folk, we have always aspired to do something a little bit different, to stand for something that was more authentic as an agency.
This desire came from the fact that I had had quite a few disastrous run-ins with digital agencies and, to be honest, I could see that there was a better way of inspiring brands to work in the digital space.
Even with all of that passion and experience, it feels like that vision is really starting to come into it's own.
Here are the key learnings from our past that we take forward into our next chapter...
#1 It starts with why
I am a branding person who fell in love with digital over 16 years ago.
It captured my attention and inspired my purpose in life, which is to connect with and inspire people on a deeper level.
Ever since my first job in the dot-com boom, where I grew and managed a 200,000 strong community of teenage girls, I have been utterly inspired by the capacity digital has to bring people together to share with one another.
I am not a geek, I am not a developer, but I am passionate about brands having purpose and meaning in life.
Purpose and a sense of who you are connecting with are the most important aspects of marketing, if not business today. From my experience to date, these are the 'unicorn and rainbows' tasks that often get overlooked, and more so in a digital project.
When I first saw Simon Sinek's 'Start With Why' Ted Talk it resonated really deeply with me and has really given me the confidence to stand even more for the belief that retailers MUST have a purpose that is beyond selling lots of products.
If you haven't seen it yourself, Sinek puts what I have always believed into a wonderfully poignant and accessible way. Be sure to share it with your colleagues.
From my experience, working from purpose brings a whole new level of inspiration to a team and brand.
#2 It's a story, but not as we know it...
Storytelling has long been a term used for branding and marketing, and we've noticed its use is gaining momentum, but the format has changed.
The 'beginning, middle, end' format cannot survive in this fast-paced landscape. Instead, the stories we talk about are organic, consumer driven and never-ending.
Instead of spending time on delivering large story productions, brands need to see the audience as their storytellers, provide them with everything that they need to tell their story and harness them creatively.
Sure, this may seem like a very scary place to be, but it's also a hugely exciting and creative time for those lucky enough to work in this industry. You know, really give the power to the people.
Combine this kind of connected storytelling with a clear purpose and you've got something very powerful to work with.
Discover how to inspire & engage your audience through story.
Enjoy & #RideTheWave
#3 The marvellousness of moving images
There is such joy in bringing film into digital. They are the perfect partners in this dance of commerce, consumer and story. 2013 has been a year of film for Folk and we plan on bringing film centre stage for 2014 and beyond.
We love film as a storytelling device and strongly believe that websites will become much more immersive experiences to shop within.
We have spent the year really perfecting and honing our own film skills because we have found it to be a more seamless creative journey for us to create the film with full understanding of the brand.
Have a peek at some of this year's films (including The Diamonds, which we recently won an award for!) and keep an eye out for more in the new year.
#4 Connected Commerce
Always moving concepts on, I have come to the view that we need to drop the e from e-commerce and put the consumer at the centre of any commerce.
We are operating with 'always on, always connected' consumers - so commerce isn't just happening on a website - it's happening everywhere.
Add to this the fact that people buy stories not products, every touch point from a brand to a person is an opportunity to sell.
Connected Commerce is where we want to take brands we work with next year and beyond. Connected to their consumer, who is connected to everything.
Our mastermind strategist, Brad Fry, has come up with the futurologist's view on how to make your online channel more effective.
#5 We have learnt to F*lk it
All the why-finding we have been doing for others has meant that we had to really consolidate who we are and why we are here. Our tenth year, after accelerated growth in the past 3 years, was a good time for Paul and I to really hone our own purpose and guiding principles for the future. We haven't always got everything right and we wanted to consolidate everything into some ways of being that can inform everything, but most importantly the service and work we provide to the people we work with.
It may be a bit meaningless to simply list the values that drive us, I'm more passionate about really bring them to life in everything we do, and we have some fantastic events and gatherings planned for next year (stay tuned!), but for now here are our guiding principles for F*lking It, both in and out of work!
- Be Curious
- Have Purpose
- Believe In The Impossible
- Make A Difference
- Master Your Craft
- Be Genuine
- Take Responsibility
- Have Fun
- Ride The Wave & Breathe
What things have you learnt in the past that you will really focus on and develop in the future? Perhaps take 5 minutes with a cup of tea to list down any 'light-bulb' moments you have had in 2013 and how they can be gifts for your future.
For example, despite the vision we have had for Folk for 10 years, we realised, through some pain, that many people have lost the purpose of the business they work in. The 'why' gets disconnected from the day-to-day.
That's why 'why finding' is now a top priority for us in all that we do. In fact, it is the most important part of any project we do, and will transform the way we can work with brands. But this lesson came from things not quite being right.