The red thread
There is a say that any story or any action must follow a red thread, the thing that gives direction and keeps all the things together.
Recently, I had a delightful talk with Adriana and Stefan Liute, 2 Romanian branding specialists that decided to follow their own red thread and start the branding agency, Storience.
Years ago, Stefan co-founded Grapefruit, one of the most appreciated Romanian branding agencies that shaped, over the time, a lot of interesting brands and gathered many international prizes. Moreover, he has been the first Romanian branding specialist who participated in this year’s Transform Awards jury, an international competition that has quickly become a respected venue for brands, clients and agencies. A Medical School graduate, Stefan decided to be a doctor, but a brands’ doctor.
Adriana started work as a journalist and then had gone into Marketing, HR and corporate communication for a multinational company. She has later joined Grapefruit where, together with Stefan, has been responsible for some great brand stories.
There’s a new kid in town
Recently, the pair decided to go on a different path, leaving the agency they worked for and found their own. Storience aims to combine stories with experience, and offer 360 degree branding services to its clients, handling their image in all media.
About launching their agency, Stefan and Adriana say they started walking on the new path from scratch, with no investors. Fortunately, as a consultant, you only need a laptop, an internet connection, a mobile phone, and your own mind as the most powerful weapon to craft beautiful stories that address your clients’ needs.
As Grapefruit opted for a more digital path, Stefan says he and Adriana had decided to continue doing what they like, which is branding, and that’s when the decision “to have the new baby” came.
On the business side, Stefan explained that, even in economic crisis, the branding needs of the clients continued to increase and, with it, the need for good branding specialists. Moreover, on Romanian market, the specialists remained pretty much the same, but some of them just decided to follow a different road compared to the one they were walking on at the start of the crisis.
Entrepreneurship – a skill any good team player should have
In what concerns Storience, the question that always comes to mind, as for any company that has just entered the market, is “How many people are in your team?”.
Adriana explained that she and Stefan are the core of the business, splitting themselves between client meetings, client work, press meeting and various business chores. But they already have a core of designers and programmers they have worked with before starting Storience, people that proved their value and know what work well done means. When it comes to forging a team, Stefan admits it is hard to find and keep compatible people, but once one finds them, great things come to life.
Still, entrepreneurial skills are a must. As mentioned during the discussion, some companies like to have in their ranks people that have entrepreneurial qualities, because running a business means much more than the cash in hand at the end of the month and, usually, general people aren’t aware of all the aspects to be taken into consideration when running a company and trying to make it work.
After spending her time in press, a multinational company and an agency, Adriana is eager to do both branding and to try the entrepreneurship path, as it looks interesting and challenging, promising new experiences and quite a bit of satisfaction for work well done.
All business means money, money and more money, but Adriana and Stefan said they are more interested to reach the end of the year with the agency turning profitable , rather than showing off a high turnover. Also, among the main priorities they have right now with Storience is to build its website. A good website is important, especially when it is about a company that specializes in branding.
Who are the clients?
This is another standard question, but well… this cannot really be applied for agencies working in branding business. Because, as Stefan explained, when a client, big or small – this isn’t so important -, decides to go to a branding specialist, they go there to make some changes to help their business, and blowing the whistle about it would be rather damaging, as it helps competitors find out that they are up to something.
When working for branding clients, you cannot act like an advertising agency, announcing you won an account and basically informing the market that, for x time, you’re going to get fees from that company. Most of the times, when it comes to branding, the public only finds out about who did a branding or rebranding when all the activities related to that project are over, and everything has already started being implemented.
As explained by Stefan, working with branding clients can be for a one-time project, consecutive projects, or different needs, so it is not very often that you can talk about a long-term continued business relationship, as it is the case in advertising or PR.
Another important thing that defines the relation between a branding agency and its clients is chemistry. Many times, a branding consultant needs to signal to their client specific business problems they have spotted. They need to come up with solutions and that isn’t easy to do when the client’s ears and mouth are closed. That is where personal chemistry and trust come in. Because you need to trust your branding specialist and tell them “the whole truth and nothing but the truth” about the problems and the needs you have, so they can deliver the best and the most effective solutions to help your company work it all out and get on the right track.
If there is passion, the success will come
Adriana and Stefan started the journey on their new path with confidence. They are both passionate and they have an excellent reputation both on the Romanian branding market and also abroad.
They are poised to craft wonderful stories for their clients and craft them in the proper way, each with a red thread to follow until the point where objectives are achieved and things are changed for the better.
And, for success, they bet on hard work, inspired ideas and, for now, on their personal reputation.
Jokingly or not, Adriana said: “We will know our agency is successful when we will receive cold calls from potential clients saying they heard about us and would like to meet and talk to us about how and what we can do to help them solve the issues they are facing”.
UPDATE: On Day 3 at Storience, which was last Wednesday, the agency received their first cold calls from two prospects.