Like many of his colleagues, Stuart McMullen is often found wearing various agency hats, juggling tasks aplenty. At his best leading the research phase of our strategic brand process, digging deep to unearth client insights, Stuart came for work experience back in 2011 and has never looked back.
Tell us a little bit more about your role at Studio North?
Like many roles in an agency environment, being a Senior Account Manager often means wearing many different hats at a moment’s notice. At its core though, it’s about working strategically with clients to come up with ideas that help them reach their business objective and ensuring they’re delivered efficiently – on time and on budget.
I’m fortunate in that the role usually allows me to work with clients
from the start of their rebrand project right through to helping them deliver
their monthly marketing activity, often for years after the brand launched.
How did you end up being a Senior Account Manager? What was your career path?
I initially came to Studio North back in August 2011, fresh out of university and looking for some work experience. They were kind enough to take me on, and the initial 2-week stint that was planned turned in to an 8 year+ career!
My first roles were mainly centred around handling the agency’s smaller jobs and supporting on the delivery of larger projects. It was invaluable experience that taught me how to ensure a job hit the client’s objectives and ensure it was well-managed – skills that I use every day.
You mention being involved strategically with clients – what does that look like?
My strategic input falls into two main areas: Brand Strategy and Marketing Strategy.
With brand strategy, I’m involved in most new brand projects that come into the agency and usually lead the research element. This involves me speaking to our client’s customer base to gather insight into their perceptions of our client’s brand and how they feel it sits within the wider market. The insight from this helps us then craft a strategy that we can be confident will resonate with the target audience.
For marketing strategy, completing a CIM Diploma in Professional Marketing in 2019 has given me a deep understanding of the wider marketing picture and how brand fits within it. For some clients, it’s also helped me develop marketing activity plans to help them generate product / service awareness and reach their business objectives.
How has brand strategy evolved throughout your career?
The strategic element of branding is continually evolving and one of the biggest changes we’ve seen is the shift from a focus on proposition-based messaging, which tells customers why your product / service is good, to more purpose-based messaging that focuses on why your brand exists and why it matters in a social context.
It’s a delicate line to walk, as when done poorly it can come across a bit worthy / fluffy, but when done right – and combined with a strong proposition – you’re able to move a brand from something functional to something an audience can connect with emotionally. It can help differentiate a brand, aid the decision making process and turn what might’ve just been a transaction into the start of a continued brand relationship.
What do you like to do outside of work? How do you relax and switch off?
Outside of spending time with friendly and family, relaxing for me takes the form of learning something new – whether it be work related or something completely different.
As a result, I have far too many hobbies including photography, playing guitar / piano and ballroom dancing. My most recent addition is a rekindled interest in magic and psychological illusions. So if you have a deck of cards handy then I’m always up for showing a trick or two, but I wouldn’t advise you to play poker with me!