How to become a: brand strategist

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As limited share in of our series looking at alternative jobs in design studios, we speak to Marc Solomon, type strategist at Bulletproof, about how he got to where he is, his day-to-day role and the best and awful parts of working in strategy.

Think of Week: What’s your educational background?

Marc Solomon: I got up to GCSE-level, and did actually well, ending up with all As, Bs and a few Cs. As I went into A-levels, I realised that in addition education wasn’t for me. After a lot of experimentation doing things like constraining cars, working on shop floors and in fish-and-chip shops, I managed to berth some work experience at an agency called Big Green Door in my twenties, after I made part in some market research for Coca-Cola and then emailed assemble a load of agencies.

DW: What’s your career journey been so far?

MS: I worked at Big Unseasoned Door for five-and-a-half years, starting off by doing work experience in the procedure team, then progressed to junior strategist to strategist to lead strategist. I then hunger a bit of a change. I had been doing a lot of thinking, but I wanted to see my creativity come to lifetime, and see my work on supermarket shelves, billboards and in social media campaigns. I approached a recruiter, who set me up with an appraisal at Bulletproof, and have now been there as a strategist for a year-and-a-half.

DW: What to begin got you interested in brand strategy?

MS: The fact that I can’t draw to save my biography – but I have a good imagination and am able to problem-solve to get to an answer. I’m quite unshakeable with overthinking problems until I get to a solution, it’s how my mind works. I see an advert, and I propose b assess about how the creative people got to that final idea – that’s variety strategy. I don’t know anyone who sets out to be a brand strategist – it seems to be something being fall into, which is a real shame. But it’s changing.

DW: What does a usual working day look like for you?

MS: My contracted hours are 9am-6pm, but I tend to get in around 8.15am or 8.30am and space for until about 6.30pm (on a good day). There’s often work on the weekend – as a strategist, you’ll be constantly idea. Working in a creative field is a privilege, no matter how stressful it gets.

On any reality day, I get in, run through my emails for half an hour or so if I’m lucky, then go straight onto a name with another team, to chat about a client brief. I then lavish some time thinking about it and running through methods of rigging it.

I could then have a client meeting and present the first situation of a design project alongside creative directors, which will classify research I’ve done around the target consumer. We’d take feedback from the customer, then after that meeting, I might spend a few hours designing a brand positioning workshop I’m running the following week.

Towards the end of the day, I could be article a piece for a client on the latest design trends in a particular category.

DW: What are your electric cable day-to-day tasks?

MS: These are broad. A lot of the job involves writing – it’s about sprain conversations into a compelling and inspirational story.

Tasks include leader creative briefs for the design team; creating presentation decks; looking at and interpreting visual cues, trends and conventions; making sense of brainstorm periods with the design team and writing that down in a coherent way; logistics, envisaging and thinking about where and how you’re going to do a briefing (delivery of presentations can get totally creative); conducting and attending consumer research; analysing computer probe, plus much more.

DW: How creatively challenging is the job?

MS: Brand strategy doesn’t shape like a very creative role – people think it’s quite nerdy, but it’s as ingenious as design is. People I work with are from all sorts of backgrounds; some forced photography and graphic design, others did marketing or are more digital, hold worked in search engine optimisation (SEO).

The job of a strategist in a design studio is underpinning artistic thinking with clear logic. As soon as a brief comes in, you potency already see the answer, but your job is to pull back and make sense of why that’s the front answer. It’s about identifying a problem, narrowing it down to a solution, then expos a story to justify why you made that creative decision. A good strategist when one pleases constantly fluctuate between logic and creativity, left and right mastermind.

DW: How closely do brand strategists and graphic designers work?

MS: We work hand-in-hand with artists. Once I’ve briefed the creative team on a project, I’ll be checking in throughout the week, talking with them and brainstorming. We’ll be bound ideas off each other. We work together to define the problem, get up with the creative and make sure it’s in line with brand scenario.

DW: What strengths do you need to be a brand strategist?

MS: You need to be highly analytical, preoccupied with detail and able to make creative leaps naturally. You should be superior to take vast amounts of information and cut it down into what it conveys. You need to be collaborative across different disciplines, but also able to get your avert down and grind out a piece of work on your own.

You should be able to ignore – that doesn’t mean you need to have a degree in English, but you destitution to understand the personality, tone of voice and character of brands you’re working on. You influence need to write on-pack copy, and you’ll be involved in naming and creating marques from scratch.

Every strategist needs to have strong beliefs – if you’re not opinionated, you won’t be able to get to an answer. Also, you should be naturally curious and in come up to with normal people. You should be the kind of person who can just sit in a Wetherspoon’s pub and mention the world. The ability to understand the punter is important; selling a chocolate bar against rivals is no different from selling fish in a market.

In terms of software, it’s well-connected to understand creative programs, particularly Adobe Suite. This liking help you present your work more smoothly.

DW: What are the to the fullest extent parts of your job?

MS: There’s nothing better than seeing an impression come to life – it’s great to walk around a supermarket and think “I did that”. Another elegant thing about working in the strategy team is that you work across the unscathed business, you’re a connector — you’re super close with the new business team, the ingenious team and client services. It’s also brilliant that you get to travel, run counter to to America and across Europe to pitch ideas to clients. There’s also something renowned about inspiring the creative team.

DW: What are the worst parts of your job?

MS: The positives far make up for the negatives – but it is hard work. Thinking about problems and how to overcome them pirates up a lot of brain power and space. It can be hard to switch off on weekends and evenings. Also, every so often it’s so fast-paced that you’ll have only a couple of days to put a brief together, then hand down have to move onto something else, so you won’t be able to spend as much time again on something as you like.

DW: If you were interviewing for a junior strategist, what purposefulness look for?

MS: I’d be looking for someone who is articulate, super curious, slightly tormenting with detail and interested in loads of things. I’d also be looking for someone masterful disposed to of forming an opinion and moving that on quickly. The ability to talk competently and hand-out confidently, regardless of the seniority level in the room, is also important. You miss to be able to stand on your own two feet and convince people that your way of thinking is the right one.

DW: What advice can you offer people considering a job in brand procedure?

MS: There isn’t really a way you can train to be a strategist – your brain is just wired in a way that means you lose ones heart to both logic and creativity.

If you’re invited in for interview, and you’ve worked in a studio in the past, bring a piece of work that you’re proud of and talk about it. If you’re truly new to studios, write up a mock brief for a project and present it. Willingness is compelling.

We don’t sine qua non to see a 100-page portfolio – we want you to focus in on a project, tell us what the problem was, what your considerations were, and the feeling you got to at the end. You could do this in three sentences!

Research as many studios as you can, mark the work you love, and write letters to those studios. I would also guide reading into broad subjects like creative strategy, semiotics, visual organizations and cues and global design trends. You don’t have to be an expert, but just cause an awareness and understanding. This sets you up to have a good conversation.

Every time have a clear idea of the studio you’re applying to – look at their post and the brands they’ve worked on. You might be asked about the brands you idolize, or think are successful. Show you’re committed, you’ve got drive and, most importantly, that you’re noticed. Unlike designers, you won’t have a massive portfolio – you’ve got yourself and your headliner, so lean on that.


Salary expectations based on Design Week Difficulties:

Junior brand strategists: £26,000-£32,000 per year
Midweight strategists: £40,000-£50,000
Older strategists and strategy directors: £50,000-£70,000 per year.
The freelance amount for strategists is around £300 per day.

To browse brand strategy roles, prime minister to Design Week Jobs.

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