By Ryan McNamara, Business Development Director, 6B Digital


New relationships always represent a step into the unknown.

You’re not quite sure of all their quirks and just where their sense of humor ends, or, more importantly, what their favorite font is. That one is a biggie!

As the relationship develops, you learn to understand what makes them tick – what memes make them smile, for example – and what makes them special to you and to others. You see the possibilities – the untapped potential on the edges – and you can identify the things that make their business special.

I see this mirrored time and time again in businesses, where great people hook up for a “one-project-fling” and end up seemingly joined at the hip 3 years later, planning for their future together and pushing each other to do their best work.

Conversely, I have also seen once happy relationships fall apart. On a number of occasions, this has led to me being the rebound client, as I’ve sat there listening to tales of uncreative copy and the dreaded line, “they just didn’t seem to have any time for us any more!”. Not good.

In reality, I’ve always seen communication as a catalyst for any good relationship – clear communication sets the tone, helps in times of crisis and always makes for better work.  Bad communication is the beginning of the end for any brand and agency relationship. Bad work and poor results tend to follow soon after.

Great creative work from agencies comes from the ability to explore the edges in what is seen as possible or acceptable within a brand, and this is made far easier by having honest conversations. The sort of conversations that can be uncomfortable, but can only be born out of good relationships and even better communication.

Barriers to decent conversations are everywhere in the modern world. Technology has the power to misconstrue meaning and delivery – *fist shake at email* – but it can also bring agencies and brands closer together than ever.

Call me old fashioned (can you at 33?!), but I have always been someone who prefers a face-to-face conversation over a Slack chat, so Zoom and Skype suit me perfectly – especially for projects that mean I can’t be in the same place as the client for long periods. If I could choose, however, it would be face-to-face every time.

In a time when brands are bringing more services inhouse, and anyone can put a website live in under 30 minutes, relationships born out of those late night pub spillover meetings and truly, truly great design are the missing ingredients to great work, and, ultimately, finding those edges that make your client so great.

2020 will be the year that I make more time for clients – not only to win more business (which is always nice), but to get to know them more personally and understand what really makes them tick.

And Susan – I really do want to know if you are training for your first triathlon. Good on you.