Back in April 2021, in the thick of the pandemic, I quit my job. I had always been drawn to the idea of working for myself and, whilst free from any real responsibilities other than a mortgage to pay, I wondered – if not now, when? My decision was met with many raised eyebrows (“Go it alone? In the middle of a pandemic? Is that wise?”) but it seemed the perfect time for me. I had enough experience to credibly pull it off and enough naivety to actually give it a go.
Skip forward a year and I can honestly say it was, without a doubt, the correct decision (for me). I revelled the challenge of turning (not quite) nothing into something, with the resources at my disposal. It meant developing my prospect-vetting, proposal-writing, resource-planning and invoice-chasing skills, amongst many other things. Not to mention my strategic craft…
From positioning & repositioning to value propositions & messaging – and even defining the strategic offer altogether for smaller, independent agencies – my capabilities evolved ten-fold comparative to sticking it perm. But much like time, evolution is continuous and so it’s time to evolve again. I had been fortunate to collaborate with and learn from many agencies, from London to Edinburgh, whilst freelancing; many more than perm would have permitted. And so I’m extremely excited to be able to apply my learnings in my new role as Strategy Director here at saintnicks.
So, what exactly is a Strategy Director? Put simply (and somewhat crudely), it’s my responsibility to help solve commercial challenges with creativity. I see myself as the metaphorical bridge between our clients, their customers and our creatives. Some like to describe strategy simply as ‘how to win’. I see it as coordinating action to achieve or mitigate something; to meet an objective or solve a problem (or both); to win or not lose.
The best kind of strategy, to my mind, isn’t brand or marketing, campaign or comms. It’s biological. The type of strategy developed by living things. They serve as very real, practical inspiration for overcoming a whole host of challenges – not just for ‘winning’ but for survival and reproduction – and come in all shapes & sizes.
“The living world holds answers for us to create a more resilient, regenerative, and beautiful world. It is time to quiet our cleverness, to observe and listen deeply, and reconnect to nature’s wisdom by asking, ‘how does nature solve this?” – AskNature
Let’s take a look at some examples across land, sea and air (and I promise I won’t include any far-fetched or self-serving ‘implications for brands and marketing’)…
The Bornean Tree-hole Frog
To overcome the busily-loud Malaysian rainforest and be heard by potential mates, males will wriggle into water-filled tree hollows and leverage them to amplify their calls (a bit like a church organ).
Potential application: Design sector e.g. acoustics and architecture.
The Great Hammerhead Shark
All sharks are predators but their head shapes and eye position make for a meagre, 10 degree visual field (in front). But this shark triples that with a sweep of 32 degrees, giving it the best of both worlds when it comes to the phrase “Eyes in front, I hunt. Eyes on side, I hide”. The hammerhead shark’s unparalleled depth perception vastly enhances its ability to track proximity and subsequent chance of a successful catch.
Potential application: Automotive sector e.g. visual sensors for vehicles.
The Synchronous Firefly
Over in Eastern and Central America, the synchronous firefly substitutes sound for sight, whereby bioluminescence is used to attract / confirm a mate through chemically-powered little abdomen lanterns that do not emit any excess heat.
Potential application: Energy sector e.g. energy efficient lighting
Sea & Air
And saving the best ‘til last (in my somewhat biased opinion), a creature that has taken it one step further by combining sea and air. The Flying Fish – a small fish that escapes predation from bigger fish by making powerful leaps out of the water and gliding with its long, ‘wing-like’, fins.
Potential application: Defence sector e.g. missile systems
Just the one implication for brands and marketing…
Whilst the majority of industry folk obsess over transformation – over revolution (i.e. profound and radical change) – perhaps we should give more consideration to the value of evolution (i.e. gradual, incremental development in response to ever-changing environments). And that if we want strategic inspiration for our brands and respective marketing activity, perhaps we don’t turn to either for inspiration at all. Here’s a quote that I think summarises this point rather nicely:
“Many people believe that the process for achieving breakthrough is chaotic, random, and unmanageable. That view is flawed. Breakthroughs can be systematically generated using a process modelled on the principles that drive evolution in nature – variance generation and selection pressure” – HBR.
We’ll never really know what will ‘win’. But we’ll never ‘win’ if we don’t try. If we don’t try and evolve. Feeling inspired, or seeking more inspiration for your brand? Drop us a line today to speak to our award-winning team of strategists and writers about how to take you further.