It’s a strange thing relooking at your own agency’s positioning.
For a start you always get diverted by real client work, sudden meetings, new deadlines. Then you enter into that parallel universe where you have to stand back from everything you think you are and work out if that’s who you really are. And the more you do that, the more you overthink it; and the more you look at what everyone else is up to the more you lose all sense of proportion.
There’s really only one thing for it: The thing we always advise our clients to do. Go back to the absolute core truth of your brand. The essence that sits comfortably in your heart and mind and gut. Start there, end there and you won’t go far wrong.
RBH was born in a barn. Not the barn we habit now but a much smaller one just a stone’s throw away across the rolling Warwickshire fields. The choice of location was absolutely conscious. We’d looked at industrial parks, city centre offices, manor houses and loft spaces. All three of us knew we’d found “it” when we walked into some newly converted farm buildings outside Hampton-in-Arden.
The only argument was how many of the three available barns we’d take. Tim said “one and we’d see how it went”. Ian (Creative Director) said “all f*****g three of course” and we settled on my choice of two (needless to say Tim and I were both quickly proven wrong and we needed all three in a matter of weeks).
We liked having a view, we liked having big gulps of fresh air and we liked the local hostelries too where the original nine of us would meet around a round table once a week and put the world to rights.
When we got to be grownups and outgrew our first abode we chose to move into much bigger barns which we properly bought this time (that’s how grown up we were). Having chased out the pigs and chickens and peacocks we set about an entire renovation from bottom to non-existent top. This created a wonderfully tall, light and energising space filled with art and awards which nestles into what looks like never-ending countryside (the NEC and Birmingham International are hidden from view). We also get our very own courtyard to use as outside meeting space and a natural local running track on our doorstep. And a lake nearby. And still the welcoming hostelries.
But our rural location alone doesn’t define RBH.
It has always acted as a painterly backdrop. One which contrasts with our attitude, our very individual outlook and our belief system. And from day one that’s been all about taking risks, pushing boundaries, challenging the status quo. It starts with the people we choose to join us. They may not have perfect tick box c.v’s. They may not have had a linear career process. They may (can you believe it?) have made mistakes or had big adventures away from the world of work. They may still be doing lots of other things besides working in our agency. They may have started life as a gardener or an upholsterer. They may have completed Iron Man or climbed Everest. They may play in a band or write a mum blog. But, as one of our clients said: “You can always tell an RBH person. They’re all so different but there is something about them that stands them apart. A professionalism yes but also a daring kind of caring. One where you know you’re in safe hands but not complacent hands. That way you always get the very best service and the very best work”.
We love our people and we love our clients and we love what we do. Before you exit this post feeling nauseous ask anyone who works here and you’ll get the same response. In setting up RBH we wanted to create a place where people (including ourselves) were happy to come to work each morning and do great things (and yes, we are allowed to have bad days). Where there is as little hierarchy as possible. Where existing folk are always eager to learn from new joiners and question the tried and tested. Where new joiners get all the time and attention they need from seasoned RBH’ers yet are also empowered to stand on their own two feet. Where we delight in demonstrating to people either passing through or coming to stay that the working environment can be one of respect and kindness, passion and creativity. That if the days feel like that then the work we produce will be more brilliant and our clients will love us more.
Neither is money our master at RBH. If we make a little less profit but produce a piece of scorching work that everyone is buzzing about and deeply proud of then that’s what we’ll do. Which is why we’ve stayed fiercely independent.
We’ve never seriously considered an offer to buy us. Not ever.
Being independent means we can speak our minds, we can make quick decisions, we can be infinitely flexible, we can take risks, we can over-service, we can sleep at night having done the right thing, the very best thing we can for our clients rather than simply following a rigid process or chasing the easier buck.
And because we’re independent we encourage and celebrate bravery, risk-taking, questioning and a little audacity. Because faint heart never won fair lady or brand acclaim.
So, when it comes to RBH’s positioning it’s quite simple really. We were born in a barn. And we were bred to dare.