In 2019, Christchurch’s Q Brand Builders blew out 25 candles. With a quarter of a century under its belt, we sit down with owner and Managing Director, Tania Biddles, to learn about how the agency has discovered the value of forming real partnerships with clients.
“Over time we have learned what it is that we need to do both for our business, and for what our clients need,” says Tania Biddles, managing director of Q Brand Builders. After 25 years in business, the agency has witnessed many disruptions across the industry and to this day, continues to evolve its offer.
In 2019, the agency is skilling up in the shopper marketing and FMCG space, with one recent appointment being a creative entrepreneur. With a background in shopper marketing and digital, the addition cements the agency in the FMCG shopper marketing space. Biddles says there’s a lot of opportunity for brands that understand the space and engage customers on an intimate level.
But that’s not the agency’s sole focus. Biddles calls Q Brand Builders, or Q, a creative brand agency as it works with clients from the inception of their brand right through to creative campaign development, consumer engagement and brand process.
“We have a lot of longstanding clients and we build their brands over time and learn as much as we can about their brands to make sure we are always delivering what they need to grow their business.”
With this Biddles says its team implant themselves into clients, building strong partnerships and acting as an extension to their marketing teams, rather than an outside supplier. In fact, the agency is so close to its clients, it often helps write the briefs.
“Often our clients just get us in a room, we ask lots of questions and then we write the brief for them. And that works really well.”
She says it is very strategic in its approach to clients as well as proactive, and can identify what they need. Aiding in this is the makeup of Q’s team, with all being senior employees who have the ability to make decisions pretty quickly – “there’s no hierarchy,” Biddles says.
With all of its team having a deep understanding of all clients, Q is able to unlock the stories behind the brands and bring that into all it produces from creative to strategy and the brand itself.
Biddles says those stories are about who the brands are and what they stand for, and it drives everything they do from paths to take, to how they talk to their customers.
And it’s important to get those stories right because in today’s connected world, brands can’t get away with wearing a mask – there’s nowhere to hide so authenticity is key.
An example of using authentic storytelling can be seen in a campaign to mark Bowel Cancer Awareness Month for Bowel Cancer New Zealand. The 2018 campaign featured eight people all at various stages of having had or living with bowel cancer alongside the tagline “Bowel cancer can look like this”.
Those people were in print, on bus backs, bus shelters, and on streets – with all the media donated for free.
The pro bono campaign was the work of Q and as word got out media buying agencies, media companies, out-of-home companies and other suppliers all came on board to help.
“The awareness the campaign raised and the massive change it made for Bowel Cancer New Zealand, as well as the New Zealand public has been phenomenal,” Biddles says.
Demonstrating that, the campaign features as a finalist for 2019’s TVNZ-NZ Marketing Awards.
Reflecting on the campaign, Biddles feels pride in the fact the people and businesses who got on board to lend their time, expertise and products believed in the power of the campaign and Q’s ability to deliver.
“It shows the value of the many relationships we have created in the last 25 years.”
Being a team of eight with a philosophy to always deliver brilliantly, these relationships are essential to the agency as it brings talent in when needed.
“Obviously, videography, photography and media – those are components we pull in and we have trusted suppliers we’ve worked with for years,” Biddles says.
“So that’s part of why we deliver all the time – because of all the phenomenal people around us who support us.”
And alongside the assistance suppliers offer to client work, for the agency they are also utilised as a source of education, providing training sessions for the team.
Biddles says suppliers come in every month or so to keep the agency up-to-date with what’s going on in the ever-changing landscape the agency operates in – everything from media to digital SEO.
“Whatever that space is, we have to use all the resources we have around us to make sure we know what we are talking about, and can deliver it.”
This knowledge is then passed onto clients as many don’t have the resources internally to keep up-to-date.
“There are some organisations that have, for example, a dedicated digital person but a lot of companies don’t,” Biddles says.
“So, we are educating them but we are also delivering the parts of the marketing team that they don’t have the resource to deliver.”
And again, Biddles reiterates the power of creating a true partnership with clients to deliver real value.
“All of our team have service 100 percent at the top of their minds – we always want to go above and beyond.”
This article was originally published in the September/October issue of NZ Marketing. Click here to subscribe.