The Firm – Paul Simons & Associates

This is the business end of things.

I have had the great fortune to work with a wide range of talented people and I have no doubt about one truth on life, very few people have a monopoly of wisdom. Therefore teams are a good thing, in particular if the team is made up of people with different skills that are complimentary, and where everyone is at the top of their game. So what we do is assemble the resource based on the nature of the task; also the team can change over time as the tasks change. It is a model that works very well and provides clients with senior, highly experienced people without the costs of an expensive corporate structure. We get hired for a number of reasons which break down in to some broad groupings:

Brand Audit

This is basic due diligence on behalf of a senior client. The purpose is to have an independent assessment and the output would be something along the lines of a SWOT analysis.

How we do this varies depending on the sensitivity of the situation. We did this for Eurostar and the initial output demonstrated that the senior team were not ‘joined-up’ on how they understood their brand. Whilst not fatal by any means it demonstrated the extra value that could be extracted from the business by having everyone aligned to one mission. This project moved on to creating the one focus of attention for the management team. In their case the benefits flowed through the business with growth in passenger numbers and revenue.

Brand Creation

The ‘green field’ challenges can appear substantial so we have been asked to operate as a project team separate from the operating management.

This happened back in the 90’s with the evolution of Goldfish, the credit card which became a substantial commercial success. In more recent times a similar exercise for RSA led to the development of MORE TH>N, another big commercial success. In these and other examples we would typically get the project to a fully formed conclusion and then hand it across to the client team.

Brand Strategy

When these assignments are commissioned the task is usually to develop a forwards brand strategy for an existing business, all the way through to the creative expression of the brand.

This could be a radical change, BWIA to Caribbean Airlines for example, the merger of Virgin Express and SN Brussels Airlines, or the evolution of a brand in to the future such as the Eurostar example.

Less is More

A great amount of effort can go in to producing process models that are aimed at justifying large fees but the difficulty is attempting to model thinking.

It isn’t a process and the ‘light bulb moment’ can happen at any time. A process assumes a logical conclusion but it rarely occurs; most often it comes from a leap of imagination after a thorough review of all available information. We try to contain the mining part of the job to a sensible proportion of the overall task and move to solutions which we then push through a series of destruction tests. We find this the most effective, time positive approach as answers can emerge quite early on. So our attitude is that ‘less can be more’ and that in almost all of our assignments early thoughts evolve in to the ultimate answer.

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