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Awards case study: Find out why Brands2Life won the B2B Marketing PR agency of the year award for 2019

This year has been a cracker for the recently re-branded PR agency, Brands2Life. It’s eighteenth successive year of growth saw a seven percent revenue increase climbing to £15.25 million. Meanwhile it’s won an award as one of the best places to work thanks to its mental health support for employees, rental loans for lower salary staff and regular charity work.

Summary

When an agency’s experienced eighteen years of uninterrupted profitable growth it could be tempted to sit on its laurels and enjoy the ride. But that’s never been Brands2Life’s way.

Revenues were higher than ever, growing 20% over the last two years to £15.25 million with record profits of £2.85 million in this financial year. The agency smashed its new business target with over £1.8 million in wins including 23andMe, Adyen, Barclays, British Horseracing Authority, Expedia, myTaxi, Mitsubishi Electric, Oracle Netsuite, Puma Energy and Rackspace and organic client growth was higher than ever at £2.2 million. Its new San Francisco office hit revenues of $750,000 in its first year. 

Critical to its growth has been the ability to extend its work with clients from PR-only into marketing briefs. Work with its top 20 clients grew by approximately £1.3 million of which £900,000 came from paid, owned and shared activities. 

Agencies only achieve such growth with the right talent. Brands2Life made hires at the bottom of the business (10 trainees) and at the top (planning, creative, film and digital strategists). Its investment in areas such as mental health, line management and employee assistance won the PR Week Best Place to Work – Large Agency Award. 

“Brands2Life has continued to drive innovation in our social media communications as we’ve become part of Thales this year. Nine years into our relationship, our results are not simply continuing to improve but actually growing faster than in every past year of the programme.” 

 


Tim Cawsey, Head of Brand and Content, Gemalto

About Brands2Life 

Brands2Life was formed in 2000 by Co-Founders Giles Fraser and Sarah Scales with a mission to shake up European tech PR by introducing a more creative, high impact approach to communications. The majority of its staff are PR and social media specialists, but it also employs planners, creatives, designers, developers, social media strategists and film-makers. 

In addition to handling over 50 top tech brands including Dell, LinkedIn, Rackspace and VMware, its client portfolio includes: fintech, healthtech and energytech brands. We also have top business services brands such as Korn Ferry, Rentokil Initial and Manpower.

Contribution to clients’ businesses 

The secret of Brands2Life’s continued growth has been its approach to delivering better stories with bigger impact. Its knowledge of digital is key – in addition to a team of 22 digital specialists all staff have been trained on digital and social strategy and delivery. 

In-house marketing teams have seen what it can do for the comms team and invited the agency to pitch for international, multi-channel programmes. Last year, integration work included finding a new way to bring LinkedIn’s job pages to life. The agency created The Linked Inn – an integrated EMEA campaign including a pop-up pub for jobhunters with Amazon, ASOS and John Lewis in attendance; organic and paid social across five markets and a call-out from the LinkedIn global CEO to run the concept all around the world. 

It also initiated a high-level stakeholder engagement programme, targeting key decision-makers on the straw ban, including the Environment Minister. On behalf of Tetra Pak, it secured a deferral of the ban for on-pack straws to June 2021, compared to an April 2020 date for all other straws. 

“Everyone in the office (and online!) is ringing your praises and won’t stop badgering us about when the next Linked Inn will be. Even Heineken have got in touch and want to partner with us. You really did smash it out the park.”


Conor Bolton, Brand Marketing Manager, EMEA

Creative thinking

  • Created its first global force-for-good programme, handling the visual identity, website, animated film, partner recruitment and global PR launch for Qlik’s Data Literacy Project
  • Built its first video wall – a giant interactive screen for VMware featuring twenty customer force-for-good projects on display at four locations at their annual show, VMworld 
  • Won its first global social media brief for LinkedIn Sales and Marketing Solutions 
  • Set up a Planning and Creative team, recruiting a head of planning and brought together 2 Joint Executive Creative Directors to support its integrated proposition. 

Financial performance and stability 

Revenues were higher than ever, growing seven percent in the period to

£15.25 million

with record profits of

£2.85 million

in this financial year. This was its 18th successive year of profitable growth. 

Staff and community engagement 

Brands2Life’s new brand identity, launched in 2018, put its staff at the heart of its new logo. It marked the launch with a curiosity day – gifting £50 and an extra day off to staff to do something they hadn’t done before.
Its annual staff survey, undertaken by Purple Insight, highlighted the need for better line management so everyone in the agency received training on this within nine months. The provided opportunities for direct feedback to the co-founders and board including, bi-annual Values Breakfast with the Co-Founders where staff get the chance to air their views on where we could do better. The Junior Board tackle many of the same issues as the Board and report back on them twice a year.
New employee benefits came out of these sessions and the survey, Life Loans, (a £1000 interest free loan, was created to help staff who struggle to raise a rental deposit), buying and selling holiday (+/- 5 days), 4pm finish on Friday, WFH and flexi’s once a week and above industry average maternity and paternity pay. 

It also put a mental health policy in place, trained managers on mental health staff awareness and set up a free Employee Assistance Programme hotline. It made its gender pay gap (of zero) public and we set up a Diversity taskforce. Its BAME (Black, Asian an minority ethnic make up) is currently 12.5%.
The agency has a low staff retention rate of 20% and continues to give back, investing over £100,000. It supported its local school, the Southwark Globe Academy with career enrichment days; created a film to support Hackney Quest’s 10th anniversary; and did its 10th annual sleep out for Bytenight/Action for Children, taking its ten-year fund-raising for the charity to £112,000. 

Key initiatives and achievements 

Of Brands2Life’s top 20 clients, eight have been with the agency for five years or more and three for ten or more. The average client retention is over three years. 

It was rated 4+ out of 5 in its client survey and received record scores for team quality, planning and creativity. It won PRWeek’s Best Place to Work (Large Agency) in recognition of its work to become a best-in-class employer. It also won a special Organisational Health award from PRWeek recognising its mental health programme. 

“Brands2Life is a hugely valued comms partner to VMware. The team understands our brand and constantly brings creative ideas to the table to move on our narrative in the UK and beyond (more than one of our campaigns has been executed in different regions round the world following a successful European launch).”


Mathias Raeck, Comms Director, EMEA, VMware


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