Where Design and Prepress Unite
Gravity's feature in Brand Experience Magazine's Agencies to Watch section.
This article was originally published in partnership with BXP Magazine.
What are some of the biggest hurdles when introducing a product, doing a brand refresh or simply adding new SKUs? Problems can arise from the fact that work is spread across different disciplines and companies. Often, designers and prepress experts aren’t working toward the same goals. The experience is more like entering a labyrinth than collaborating with colleagues where all eyes are on the brand. This month’s Agencies to Watch focuses on Gravity, the creative division of
BXP: What’s the word on the street—what are CPGs trying to solve?
Chuck Rovito, VP of Creative Services at Gravity: There are many market drivers that brand owners are looking to address. The changes in digital commerce, brought on by new shopping behaviors, is a topic we’re all familiar with. Other concerns include sustainability, speed-to-market, 5-10 year brand/product innovation, agency list optimization, and omni-channel activations.
BXP: What’s pushing everybody over the normal speed limit?
CR: Speed-to-Market isn’t about doing the work faster, it’s about approaching every project holistically and having agile processes that support the business objective. You have to make the most of the time you have. At Gravity, we’ve found that collaboration is the key element to success.
Scott Dannenfelser, Executive Creative Director: One of the ways we bring collaboration to the forefront is by co-creating with the client. We invite them into our space-or set ourselves up in theirs-and hold a creative Power Session. These sessions allow us to work with them in real time, talking through challenges, solutions and changes live, rather than the back-and-forth churn that can take weeks and often leave feedback lost in translation. These sorts of practices strengthen and expand our and our clients’ thinking, as well as help immerse our team within the brand, creating a better agency/client partnership in the process.
When clients utilize the Gravity + Phototype relationship to take advantage of our end-to-end process, we’re able to take a look at the broader initiative, allowing us to approach the project holistically. With all parties in play, we can figure out the best approach, pinpointing key milestones, and getting ahead of potential delays. It allows us-and the client-to avoid the pitfalls that can occur when multiple agencies are clamoring for their spot in the email chain.
BXP: How does the marriage of an agency and a prepress firm work?
CR: It’s a very synergistic atmosphere. The mix of trust, respect and talent
that each person brings to the team is powerful. Team leaders are involved
from start to finish. For example, the Gravity design lead will ensure design intent has been maintained throughout the entire process, while the Phototype project lead will ensure printability on all concept work.
Through this close collaboration, client vision is communicated one time, to one team. Cumbersome hand-offs between agencies are eliminated. There’s no need to clean up and clarify design files between agencies. As soon as design is locked, it smoothly transitions to the next phase. We’re all located on one campus, so questions are resolved immediately and work never stops. Our dynamic workplace ecosystem and strategy-to-shelf experience is unmatched in the industry.
BXP: How do you help clients adapt to survive?
Barb Carlotta, Brand Development Director: These days, the CPG world can be a confusing place. One minute, you’re reading about the “death of retail” and the next, it’s “making a triumphant comeback.” We try to bring clarity to what’s actually happening out in the wild with a series of voluntary learning sessions with our clients. We share industry knowledge, what’s going on at conferences around the country, and best practices for success. That said, any agency can provide an industry report. We take it a step further.
For us, it’s not a report, or a presentation—it’s a conversation. That’s why we like to have them over lunch. We involve the client in the process, listen to their challenges, and help them become closer to their consumers and give them the knowledge to respond faster to changes in the market. It’s another way we put the focus on collaboration.
“The mix of trust, respect, and talent that each person brings to the team is powerful.”
BXP: Can you provide an example or two?
SD: Well, for one of our long-standing clients, we discussed the power of design, demonstrating how planning a party and creating a strong design system have similar traits. It really explains our process in a digestible way.
Another conversation was all about customization in packaging. It helped familiarize the client with the technology, as well as provided some successful examples—like the “Share a Coke” name campaign—to really bring it home, showing how customized packaging is becoming attractive to consumers.
CR: Here’s another example—one of our newer clients actually came to us with a topic. They asked Gravity, “show us what we need. Give us a fresh perspective on any areas of opportunity.” The end deliverable was a dynamic food trend report and thought-provoking micro-study that proposed multiple “what-if” concepts, provoking and challenging the client to think differently. We leveraged this new thinking to enhance their brand awareness and address consumer need for one of their growing products.
BXP: This sounds like product innovation work.
BC: At some level, it is. We utilized some of our innovation exercises to help us question what we learned—and turned our own assumptions upside down in the process.