Agency Hacks That Took Good to Great

By Published on .

Credit: Images courtesy of the subjects

Business never stays the same, and neither should your agency. Here, industry leaders describe the best changes they've made along the way— moves that run the gamut from cosmetic to existential. Their shops broke down walls, literally and figuratively, to reinvent themselves. Maybe they can inspire you to do the same.

Below, their favorite changes, lightly edited:

Josh Beane, founder and CEO, Idea Farmer
Opening a second office across town to make commuting easier for team members who don't live near our downtown Los Angeles headquarters. It's allowed us to take the sting out of L.A.'s horrendous traffic and make a really meaningful difference in everyone's overall quality of life.

Karyn Rockwell, CEO, FCB New York
Our commitment to the idea that "Everyone is a creative." Ari Halper, FCB New York's chief creative officer, coined the phrase, and we've come to embrace it wholeheartedly. Great ideas can come from anywhere. Now everyone has skin in the game when it comes to the products we deliver.

Chris Weil, chairman and CEO, Momentum Worldwide
The decision to focus on culture and to define our culture by a set of core values. We ask everyone to operate around these values, and to believe in them. They are: Be one, do great work, have fun, give back and grow.

Shanté Bacon, CEO and founder, 135th Street Agency
Expanding our age demographic. Many marketers and agency owners crave the millennial perspective and prioritize assembling a team of millennials to rely on for their unique insights and contributions (and we are no different). However, we realized that we were missing the perspective of seasoned, veteran executives. The three 50-plus veteran ad and communications executives we added have had the immediate impact of contributing to our perspective as an agency, and influenced a more empathetic touch to the way we manage our clients, projects, vendors, media, staff and marketing philosophies.

John Matejczyk, executive creative director, co-founder, Muhtayzik Hoffer
Moving to our current space. We had really cool offices in 4,000 square feet, but it still felt like a startup. When two floors became available in San Francisco's financial district, it was a chance to put our own stamp on a space and signal to potential clients that we were all-in.

Jason DeLand, founding partner, Anomaly
The creation of the Last Silo. We put a goal on the table to make everyone capable of working at the intersection of multicultural thinking and hyper-cultural execution. I was moved to action after our president decided to attack Mexicans. We couldn't just sit back and do nothing.

Susie Nam, chief operating officer, Droga5
Extending our paternity leave and supporting fathers as well as mothers has given us incredibly positive momentum as we work toward more gender parity. For new fathers to be home during the most emotional, toughest, happiest first weeks after birth is the greatest education of why a mother's journey back to work is very different than a father's.

Bruce Henderson, chief creative officer, Jack Morton Worldwide
A weekly open-review session where any project team can present work in progress for feedback. We invite people from all disciplines. It's reinforced the centrality of our client work ... and it offers everyone the opportunity to take responsibility—and receive acknowledgement—for their contributions.

Carol H. Williams, president, CEO and chief creative officer, Carol H. Williams Advertising
We are seriously engaged in data and other sciences to make us smarter, allow us to measure effectiveness and review the dynamics of measurable advances. We speak with neuroscientists and connect with people to resonate in consumers' lives. In order to communicate to individuals, you have to stand in their shoes.

Andy Polansky, CEO, Weber Shandwick
The introduction of our Mediaco content-creation unit as a branded specialty unit allowed PR to step out of its swim lane, proving that PR has the creative and strategic chops to not only participate on integrated marketing teams, but to lead them.

Steve Stoute, CEO and founder, Translation
It's somewhat intangible. More than ever, I feel we are driven by purpose. Not in the marketing way of telling the world why we exist and what we uniquely offer. Rather, in a deeply internal way as a team—a shift, a knowingness in what we're striving for. It's motivated us in ways that revenue and renown never could.

Michael Houston, global president, Grey
In 2009, our management team retreated to Soho House for a brainstorming session. We were meditating on what the soul of Grey was and someone (no one knows quite who) put forth "famously effective." The light bulb went off. It was an embrace of the past but equally future-facing.

Alex Leikikh, global CEO, MullenLowe Group
Moving the company from the woods of northern Massachusetts, where the agency lived for 39 years, to the heart of Boston in 2009. The world had evolved and so many of the brilliant young minds weren't willing to reverse commute into the woods, so we moved the agency to where the labor was.

Keith Cartwright, executive creative director, Butler, Shine, Stern & Partners
One improvement we made came from us focusing on the DNA that built this place, when Mike Shine and John Butler were out shooting spec spots. The culture was to make things on your own—prototype ideas and use those prototypes to learn what to do and what not to do. Sometimes the best change is just reminding yourself of who you are.

Bertrand Cesvet, CEO, Sid Lee
Opening an architecture practice in 2009. It's the very special link that makes our business model unique.

Most Popular
In this article: