Posted on 16/05/2014 in Opinion
The science and technology industries are hugely exciting. They’re dynamic, creative, innovative spaces packed with talented, visionary people - and that’s magnified enormously when you work somewhere like Cambridge.
We’re a city that has turned out some of the most innovative companies and technologies that the world has ever seen. We’re home to big ideas, huge money, and of course, the thing that naturally follows - massive competition. For creative and communications agencies, it’s a high octane race to solve complex problems for the kind of giants that often go on to create entire markets.
Often, the perception of working with science and technology companies draws up visions of innovative creatives having their artistic license stifled by unforgiving brand guidelines enforced by 35 different stakeholders. In reality, the process couldn’t be more different. Having access to such a diverse range of companies presents not only the opportunity to work with the market makers - but also with the passionate, smart startups scrabbling for investment, on the ground with the people using their technologies - so busy that their people often seem to disappear off the grid for days on end.
But regardless of the shape that the client arrives in, design and development jobs for science and technology firms typically share a number of commonalities.
At the most basic level, these firms are trying to leverage the reach of the web to increase the value of their communications with the businesses and bodies that they’re trying to reach. More specifically, they’re often trying to explain some of the world’s most innovative, deep technology ideas currently on the market. More often than not, it’s not simple to make them digestible.
The challenge as creatives takes a number of forms - but predominantly, these:
- How can our project team most effectively understand this idea?
- How does the product ultimately fit within the client’s market, and who are they trying to reach?
- Scientists are human too - so how can we articulate this deep scientific vision simply, quickly and elegantly?
Speed and quality
Regardless of the size of the organisation, we iterate quickly because for our clients, usually, this work is best due “yesterday”. Finding a process that is optimal to both companies’ workflows is critical - and keeping communication channels wide open is central to making sure that high value work can be iterated swiftly - without compromising on quality.
Innovation, independence and initiative
There is a massive gulf between delivering market appropriate work and delivering heartbreakingly boring work. It’s our task to make sure that the deliverable is not only at home in a highly competitive space - but is innovative enough to set the client apart from their competition. We always come back to the same considerations:
- What does the market expect? Who are the players?
- How can we launch this deliverable as far above the competitive ‘noise’ as possible?
- How brave is the client willing to be?
On top of that, it’s important to remember that these guys may be titans of industry within their space - but they’ve hired a digital agency for a reason. Having confidence enough to propel an early idea forward is where our real value is - without having to be micro-managed via e-mail by somebody in the field in China, installing radars that they may well have built themselves.
In order to commit to excellence, creatives need to be pro-active in refusing to resign to sub-par work delivered through a muddy, clumsy process. It’s everybody’s job to champion and protect the value of great communication - and subsequently reap the benefits in quality.
This article first appeared in Business Weekly.