Interview with founders Simon Fryer, CEO and Richard Bland, Creative Director
We have entered our 10th year this month! Founded by Simon Fryer and Richard Bland, the entrepreneurial duo have grown the agency from one desk in a converted church to becoming a leading sector specialist agency.
Life is anything but dull at KISS: with an addition of a larger London office last month, exciting new international clients, and a growing role in the PROI, an international partnership of independent agencies, all keep this 27-strong team busy.
Here we find out more about Simon and Richard’s journey to success and plans for the future:
What made you decide to start KISS?
Rich: A joint passion for creativity and business, but done differently. My lucky break was meeting the best business mind I’ve ever worked with.
Simon: I have always been a business starter and the missing ingredient for me at the time was a creative dynamo as a partner.
What has been the biggest challenge over the last decade?
Rich: Managing change. Constantly thinking differently.
Simon: Going through each of the painful growth and development stages, whilst ensuring we always had the right strategy in place, that and attracting the best people.
How has the agency changed over the years?
Rich: We’re much larger, but at our heart, our core principle of simplicity hasn’t changed.
Simon: Rich is right, simplicity has always been at the core of what we do. Probably the biggest changes for me were creating a senior management team with the introduction of Justine Smith, and then Sarah Reakes as Managing Directors. Then two years ago, we moved from being a generalist agency - trying to be all things to all people - to a primarily science, technology and education focused agency. And, it’s in these exciting sectors that we have really found our niche. More recently, joining the PROI has also given us an exciting step-change of international opportunities.
What are the plans for the agency over the next 10 years?
Rich: To build a reputation as the best science, tech and education, creative agency on the planet. With the marketing sector on steroids and change happening daily, businesses need a partner with the right skills and experience. We’re building a team for the future.
Simon: To deepen our roots in the Golden Triangle of Cambridge, London and Oxford and to build upon the exciting opportunities that we have developed with our international PROI partners. We are busy working with multinationals and innovative, disruptive start-up businesses from Germany, France, Benelux, USA and Canada. The partnership is also helping our clients here in the UK tap into new markets around the world, providing invaluable insight and delivery of campaigns by our partners on the ground.
How has the agency/client relationship changed since you started?
Rich: Our business is, and always will be, built on its great relationships. We never let our clients or partners down.
Simon: In-house marketers have never been under such pressure; strategy, digital marketing, SEO, analytics, branding, PR, blogger outreach, social media, content – the list goes on and it can be completely overwhelming. Clients are relying more and more on the support of a reliable integrated marketing partner to provide insight, ideas and inspirational campaigns. It’s not just about the work, for the agency / client relationship to work you must have empathy and the right chemistry.
How hard has it been to attract the right people to KISS?
Rich: Great people are attracted by a great reputation and thankfully that’s something that grows every year.
Simon: It was very hard in the first couple of years, however we have always been flexible which greatly helped to attract the right people. As the agency has developed its culture, attracting more blue chip and innovative clients, as has the quality of the people approaching us, which has helped us to grow our immensely valuable team, including our native German, French and Spanish nationals.