Championing a cleaning brand’s sustainable vision

  • Client: Superunion / Delphis Eco
  • Disciplines: Copywriting, brand storytelling
  • Duration: 3 days

I helped Superunion tell the brand story of eco-friendly cleaning company Delphis Eco.

Following a joint briefing with the creative team and the client, I conducted an in-depth interview with Delphis Eco’s passionate, self-confessedly belligerent founder Mark Jankovich.

The first section, below, captures the story’s unlikely origins in the world of cut-throat finance – where Jankovich had the epiphany that drove him to drop everything and radically change his career direction.

“I woke up one day and thought, ‘Enough’s enough.'” – Mark Jankovich

Mark’s story

It was 2007, the year before the finance sector went into meltdown.

Mark had been working on a more joined-up approach to RBS Group’s corporate social responsibility. He argued that the banking giant needed to consider its impact on the world.

But profit was king, and Mark’s holistic plan was laughed out of the room. He quit the next day, with a burning desire to make a meaningful difference in whatever way he could. His goal was simple: build a business, any business, that could have a net-positive impact. After scouring the globe for candidates, he discovered a Liverpool-based chemist making professional-standard cleaning products from eco-friendly natural ingredients.

Delphis Eco leads by example when it comes to sustainability

The business had been struggling, and had racked up significant debts. But despite having no experience in the sector, Mark saw huge potential for social and environmental impact.

Shortly after the birth of his second child, and with no salary as a safety net, he threw everything he had into the venture, adopting a one-star roadside hotel as a rudimentary base near the warehouse in Bootle while he worked to turn the business around.

The brand story is set firmly in the context of the global climate emergency

Mark was prepared to roll up his sleeves and get his hands dirty. To win one of Delphis Eco’s first major contracts, he spent seven months getting up at 4am to scrub Iceland stores, demonstrating to the supermarket why it should switch.

He also knew he had to get the products into the right hands, so cut out the middleman. Knowing the Prince of Wales to be an ardent eco-campaigner, he cold-called Clarence House and challenged the Prince’s staff to test the products. The risk paid off, ultimately leading to Delphis Eco receiving two Royal Warrants.

At the heart of Delphis Eco’s success story is Mark’s refusal to accept something is impossible, and the passion, belligerence and drive to prove it can be done.

Mark has lobbied the UK government to promote sector-wide change

The story goes on to explore how Delphis Eco has responded to the bigger-picture context of the climate emergency, and reveals the brand’s many sector-leading green innovations and related campaigns – including lobbying for meaningful change at the highest level.

Why we’ve extended the BIA deadline by a month

Submit your best branding by 26 June 2020.

Awards season has unsurprisingly looked a bit different this year. Every major scheme has adapted in its own way to cope with the industry-wide challenges posed by COVID-19.

The Brand Impact Awards is no different: we are officially extending the entry period by four full weeks to 26 June.

Enter the Brand Impact Awards now 

2020-06-26T11:31:00

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2020 entry deadline

It’s no secret that agencies across the board are under pressure. Everyone needs time to settle into their ‘new normal’ – whatever that means – and ensure both cashflow and workflow recovers.

You may still have team members furloughed, or be pulling out the stops to get a key project over the line. By extending the entry period by another month, we hope to give you an extra buffer to do your submissions justice.

Why spend money on awards right now?

At times like these, celebrating the best work is important to keep your team motivated – but also to demonstrate to prospective clients that your agency creates world-class output that breaks category constraints.

You need sufficient rigour to ensure the best work rises to the surface. The BIAs’ narrow-but-deep focus on branding – and its market-sector categories, which consider work in the context for which it was designed – means brave work in conservative sectors has a better chance to get noticed.

It also means you won’t always see the usual suspects in the shortlist, and great work that other awards schemes have passed over could win.

Group debates are a crucial part of the BIA judging process: they enable us to take advantage of the variety of different perspectives and specialist expertise on our world-class panel.

Like every other design award scheme this year, we must shift to remote judging in order to protect the health and safety of all involved, but we will ensure that stimulating group debate remains at the heart of the process.

Plus: three all-new craft categories

Strong, original and client-appropriate ideas sit at the heart of every winning project at the BIAs. But without the craft to bring them to life in a spectacular, engaging way, they might stay just that: ideas.

Craft is crucial to great branding. To recognise the fruitful collaborations that are often at the heart of award-winning projects, this year three all-new categories will reward the very best examples of how copywriting, illustration and typography can help define and communicate brand values.

Each of these three categories has its own world-class jury – a first for the BIAs. So if you submit the same project in a craft category as well as the appropriate market-sector category, that aspect of the work will be independently scrutinised by specialists in that particular field.

All entries must be received by 26 June 2020 at the very latest: there will be no further extensions. Good luck!

Enter the Brand Impact Awards now

Now’s the time to sharpen your agency’s focus

In this brutal climate, it pays to think more strategically.

The world’s in lockdown. Remote working is likely the norm for your clients as well as your agency. Video chats are a way of life, professionally and personally.

We’ve all had projects paused, postponed or cancelled. These are testing times. For anyone working with clients in the hardest-hit categories, such as travel and hospitality, it’s particularly brutal.

Protecting the health and job security of your team, and the long-term survival of your agency, are the order of the day. You need to hit the ground running once the dust settles.

Social distancing in the age of corona. Photo by Jake Bradley on Unsplash

To do that, it’s more important than ever to review what, and who, your agency is for. Short-term cashflow from current clients is key, but you must also keep communicating to prospective clients why design is an investment, not a non-essential cost. Of course, you must also convince them that your agency is best placed to add that value.

That’s where your content strategy comes in. When all the hatches are battened down, it might feel like you’re running to stay still. The priority list is long, and there are plenty of fires to fight. Clarity is what you need.

Read more: Why your design agency needs a content strategy

In recent months, I’ve been collaborating with three very different agencies to help clarify and communicate exactly what makes each of them special.

Two of them are industry veterans with already stellar client lists, looking for laser focus to explain the unique appeal of their purpose and process to the next great client.

The third is an exciting start-up with a compelling niche, keen to persuade brands of the value it can add.

With every brand imaginable filling inboxes with their take on the coronavirus outbreak, news feeds stoking anxiety and uncertainty, and the day-to-day filled with the practical challenges of handling the crisis, it’s hard to see the wood for the trees. But it’s essential to do so.


Need help getting focus amidst the chaos?

Why your design agency should invest in video

Is your approach to video content working?

In my six years chairing the Brand Impact Awards judging panel, I’ve seen a growing trend for polished videos supporting entries. The best examples function as mini documentaries, telling the story of a project from the perspective of the client as well as the agency.

Clearly this route is more accessible to larger, better-resourced agencies. Bespoke video content doesn’t come cheap, certainly compared to submitting some static images with a written supporting statement. Small, boutique studios may struggle to compete on a level playing field.

But if you only see video as a cost, you’re looking at it wrong. With the right approach, it can form a key part of your design agency’s content strategy.

Read more: Why your design agency needs a content strategy

Told in the right way, the story of a ‘portfolio centrepiece’ project will draw people in and add depth and colour to your creative process. Putting your people on camera also gives your agency an engaging, human face that makes it more accessible and relatable to prospective clients.

If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing right. That means you need to pick your battles, as costs can add up quickly. Some projects have a rich, visual story that video can bring to life effectively – others don’t.

You don’t need a Hollywood film crew to shoot an Oscar-winning masterpiece. But telling that story in a compelling way takes more than a camera operator, a sound recordist and someone to edit it together. You need an editorial eye.

So what does this look like in practice?

As discussed in my last post, video was a crucial part of my content strategy for Taxi Studio’s global Carlsberg rebrand.

There were several strands to be explored editorially, and the particularly close collaboration between agency and client on the project merited input from both sides of the table to tell the full story.

Filming Taxi Studio’s Spencer Buck and Carlsberg’s Jessica Felby in Copenhagen [Watch here]

Accordingly, as well as conducting in-depth on-camera interviews with the creative team in Taxi’s Bristol-based studio, we filmed several members of Carlsberg’s brand team in their Copenhagen HQ.

With three agency-side and six client-side interviews to work with, careful scripting was required to cut between multiple perspectives within a few short minutes. Liaising closely with Taxi’s in-house editor, I structured a smooth, engaging narrative for each video.

Case study: Video series exploring Taxi’s Carlsberg rebrand

For the launch of The Clearing’s new book Wild Thinking, I worked closely with the agency’s marketing team, and publisher Kogan Page, to put video at the heart of the content strategy.

The premise of Wild Thinking is about asking challenging, provocative questions to get to the heart of a brand. That lent itself perfectly to an interview format, digging deeper into the themes inside the book.

McLaren CMO John Allert discusses how mediocrity is a motivator [Watch here]

I conducted on-camera interviews with three of the featured brands: McLaren, Dropbox and Royal Ascot. With almost an hour of footage from each interview, I then scripted punchy three-minute videos – as well as shorter cuts for use on LinkedIn and Twitter.

Case study: Video interviews to promote Wild Thinking

There’s an art to steering an on-camera interview, particularly if people aren’t used to being in front of the lens. If the conversation feels natural, an interviewee feels more comfortable and their answers flow.

This often requires changing the line of questioning on the fly to ensure the most interesting content is captured, and in a usable format. For short-form video, you need engaging soundbites that can be edited together easily.

It’s a skill I’ve honed over many years. At Channel 4, I produced regular short-form video documentaries showcasing emerging creative talent.

During my tenure as editor of Computer Arts, I produced a long-running series of video profiles at top agencies across the UK. These included Pentagram, JKR, The Partners, DixonBaxi, SomeOne and many more.

CA studio documentary filmed at JKR. Image credit: Future

Rather than just focusing on media-trained founders and creative directors, these videos were designed to present a cross-section of agency life. We interviewed people from different tiers and departments, all of whom had plenty of interesting things to say, but were rarely in the spotlight.

Watch now on YouTube: CA studio documentaries

For many clients, my varied experience in the editorial and broadcast sectors, combined with in-depth knowledge of agencies’ creative and strategic processes, makes an ideal sweet-spot when it comes to video.


Does your agency need to rethink its video strategy?

Why your design agency needs a content strategy

Is your portfolio working hard enough to win you new work?

I’ve heard the same problem from agencies of all sizes. Time is tight, the team is stretched, and hours spent updating the website aren’t billable.

Once a project is wrapped, it’s onto the next one. Writing the case study is all-too-often a necessary evil to keep the website fresh, perhaps feed into awards submissions further down the line, hopefully get some design press attention.

Stop. Look at it differently. Invest a little more in telling the story in the right way, and your completed projects don’t just show off what you did for one client – they show off how you can work with any client. They sell your creative process, not just your creative output.

Case studies can tell a powerful story about what makes you unique, and why clients should hire you. But to get it right, you need a content strategy.

People fetishise ‘thought leadership’. And if you have something genuinely thought-provoking to say, or an inflammatory opinion on the latest hot topic, it can be a great platform.

Read more: Why your design agency needs a ghostwriter

But to achieve real impact, you need to apply the same kind of strategic rigour to how you talk about your work. Use your case studies to add colour to a wider narrative about how you think, collaborate and solve problems – not just why you chose a particular typeface or colour palette.

So what does this look like in practice?

When Studio Output set out to redefine its strategic positioning – the agency “helps brands to adapt and thrive in a connected world” – I worked with the senior team to help craft a centrepiece article, setting out the stall.

At the heart of the piece was one core message: the experience of your digital products is what defines your brand. In order to thrive, established brands must adapt, embracing the potential of brand-led user experiences.

Image credit: Studio Output

Case study: Studio Output’s strategic repositioning

Crucially, the piece didn’t just discuss this topic in the abstract. Case studies for BBC Sport, Auto Trader and Pottermore were an integral part of that narrative, adding colour and substance to the argument, and making a compelling case to clients facing similar problems in different sectors that Studio Output’s approach could be the answer.

Sometimes a single project has enough value as a portfolio centrepiece to benefit from its own content strategy. Before the launch of Taxi Studio’s global Carlsberg rebrand, for instance, I collaborated with the agency to help identify the most interesting angles on the story.

My strategy was to split the project into three strands: re-crafting the core brand assets; developing a holistic packaging system; and exploring Carlsberg’s wider sustainability story, in which the rebrand played a key role.

Image credit: Taxi Studio

Case study: Taxi Studio’s Carlsberg rebrand

After conducting a series of on-camera interviews with key figures involved with the rebrand from both agency-side and client-side, I scripted three short video documentaries – and worked with Taxi’s in-house editor to help tell the story in a succinct, engaging way. I also wrote accompanying long-form articles to dig deeper into each facet of the story.

The strategy worked, piquing the interest of different corners of the design press: Computer Arts went behind-the-scenes on the reworked brand assets; The Dieline ran an exclusive deep-dive on the packaging system; and Creative Review explored the sustainability story in more detail. The videos were also used in many successful awards submissions.

Read more: Why your design agency should invest in video

These two examples represent opposite ends of the same scale: one uses multiple case studies to add substance to a larger narrative, the other expands one case study to tell a multi-tiered narrative. But both offer value far beyond showcasing completed projects, and show prospective clients how these two top agencies solve creative problems in style.


Is it time your agency had a content strategy?