Mick Smyth is Senior Marketing and Communications Manager at London based Siegel+Gale. Mick reveals to IIBN that Siegel+Gale is a brand strategy, design and experience firm which utilises the power of simplicity. We help organisations around brand communication, brand management, analytics + insights, design, employee engagement, experience, naming, and strategy.
You can visit Siegel+Gale here
What are your main priorities and goals in your role?
My role is to drive marketing for the EMEA region. It’s quite a broad position and I look after everything from strategy, events, and content, to awards, outreach, and planning. The main priority of the role is to support the growth of the business in EMEA.
What are your biggest challenges?
Our biggest challenges are probably similar to most organisations right now. We had to rapidly pivot, when the Covid-era began, not least in our approach to marketing. There’s no doubt it’s been a challenging time, but I think it’s been an important and steep learning curve. It’s given us a real understanding of how responsive we can be. As a global firm, we’re used to working with colleagues and clients who might be in a different physical location, so in some ways this has just been a very sudden extension of that way of working.
How has your business strategy been adapted in the context of the Covid-19 crisis?
Of course, we have to do everything remotely now, which is without doubt, a challenge. But we adapted quickly, and there haven’t been too many teething problems.
From a communications perspective, we wanted to ensure we offered genuine value. For those first few weeks we felt that it was important we didn’t add to the noise of an already crowded space. We’re not on the front line, but we help a lot of organisations that are. So, ensuring every piece of communication is relevant to both Siegel+Gale and our clients was really important.
How do you keep your team/staff motivated?
Siegel+Gale work a lot to attract people that are aligned with the values of the business; smart, nice and unstoppable. From that, I think the people within the business are intrinsically motivated. Of course, Covid-19 is a challenging time for everyone, but when you’re working with people that have the same values, it creates a camaraderie, and everyone tends to keep each other motivated. It’s easier when you all have a unified north star to aim at.
What are the challenges facing your industry going forward?
The power of brand is well known at this stage, and it’s becoming an increasingly crowded space. Lots of consultancies are entering the market and offering services that cover the entire marketing mix from advertising right through to customer experience, and digital transformation. The lines between these services are getting blurred and as an industry, it is becoming more complex. We’re fortunate in that we have a strong heritage and a wealth of experience, having done some instantly recognisable work such as the NBA logo design. We have a unique and very real differentiator in simplicity which, given the complexity we see around us, is more meaningful and relevant than ever.
What new trends are emerging in your industry?
The power of simplicity is being recognised more and more. We’ve noticed the conversation around simplicity is increasing, and its value appreciated. As the world becomes more complex, customer needs and expectations are evolving, so being able to provide a simple brand experience is vital.
Are there any major changes you would like to see in your sector?
I think this is something that probably needs to be tackled across the majority of sectors, but I would like to see more diversity within our industry. It will happen, but it’s taking too long. Apart from the social aspect of diversity, if everyone comes from the same background with the same perspectives, then innovation suffers.
Are you finding any skills gaps in the market?
We are fortunate enough to work in an industry with no shortage of talent and skills – the creative industries are one of the country’s best-performing sectors, and people want to work in it. It’s more about helping those skills to be shared across a more diverse workforce that’s more the challenge.
How will Brexit affect you, or have you started to feel the effects already?
We’re a global organisation, so as a business it hasn’t had too much of an effect. From the perspective of our London office, Brexit has really just delayed the decision-making process. Organisations appear to be a little more cautious in making decisions. Though things did feel like they were very much settling, up until March, and even now a level of stability appears to be returning as we start to emerge from lockdown.
How do you define success and what drives you to succeed?
Success for me, is really about looking back and seeing that I made a tangible difference to the business. Challenges like Brexit or Covid can always come along and force you to change your strategy, but I feel it’s about how you face the challenges that define your success.
What’s the best advice you’ve been given, or would give, in business?
Stick to your values. Having a north star to guide you through challenging times is what allows you to pivot quickly. Decisions become easier and your playing field becomes more identifiable.
What have been your highlights in business over the past year?
We have a great global events programme where our global CMO Margaret Molloy, who also happens to be from Ireland, leads panels with global marketing leaders from some of the world’s biggest brands. Covid was a big challenge to our physical events programme, but we managed to make them virtual which also allowed us to broaden the reach of panellists and attendees. Connecting people from really diverse backgrounds has given us a lot of insight.
What’s next for your company?
It’s really about applying our philosophy of simplicity to help clients strengthen their brands and create more compelling experiences. The complexity we can see around us makes this more important than ever right now.
What opportunities or plans for growth do you see in 2020/21?
Changing times mean brand owners proactively rethinking plans or responding to wider changes in their businesses. So, for example, we expect to see organisations adapting their experience to deliver their brands in new and different ways, given that constraints caused by Covid represent something of a ‘new normal’. And we expect to see a pick-up in M&A activity too, which triggers branding work.
Where do you want your business/brand to be this time next year?
To continue driving simplicity and doing great work.