At the Heart of It All - Bear Grylls Ventures and What’s Next.

Jonathan McNamara RetroFuzz

by Jonathan McNamara

If you’ve been following our journey, you likely already know this story. But I’m going to tell it again.

When Matt and I founded RetroFuzz in 2007, it was as a creative agency working at the intersection of music, design and technology. We designed and built websites, platforms and apps; we worked on thousands of projects seen by thousands of people, and travelled the world doing it.

But by 2016, the market had changed.

More importantly, our perception of the company — the one we’d spent years building — had changed.

At the heart of our decision to reposition RetroFuzz was our love of brands, a fanatical dedication to our clients and a real sense of responsibility for our work. Matt and I wanted to have the opportunity to bring our expertise to every client, on every project. Not just in terms of strategy, but also delivery and ongoing support.

We wanted to offer more than just development and design work; we wanted to solve problems, give honest opinions and make a difference to brands and the audiences they inspire.

RetroFuzz has done just that.

As a digital consultancy, we’ve expanded our role beyond development and design to become brand partners and advisors. We’ve brought our creative, collaborative working model to clients like Wrangler, Lee Jeans and Ginetta.

Now, we’re taking our approach with our newest client, Bear Grylls Ventures.

Why Bear?

Our conversation with Bear Grylls’ team began in September of last year. Like us, Bear Grylls Ventures is a small, focused operation with an unbelievable passion for the brand. But they were struggling to understand digital, ecommerce and marketing.

Bear Grylls has an abundance of product opportunities with different global partners. These partners sign up to manufacture products using his brand, on his behalf. It’s an overwhelming, impressive operation; it became apparent to us that Bear Grylls Ventures didn’t have the time to both understand, and successfully deliver, a digital and ecommerce strategy.

So, we decided to put together a proposal for us to go in and set up the foundation of the brand’s ecommerce. We wanted to become the guardians for the entire Bear Grylls digital portfolio; we wanted to empower the Bear Grylls Ventures team and have the opportunity to really transform the brand’s global digital offering.

A month into 2019, and that’s exactly what’s happening.

This Spring, Bear Grylls’ first branded ecommerce platform will go live. Its creation was more than just a development or UX challenge. We’ve spent hours speaking to Bear Grylls’ product partners to figure out how we can onboard and market their products. We’ve sorted out issues around fulfillment — everything from onboarding stock, setting up warehouses and shipping. We’ve spoken to their accountants, making sure they have all the financial data they need to prepare their VAT returns, produce their statutory accounts and pay their corporation tax bills.

Led by Amanda Johnson, our Head of User Experience, we've used our UX experience to understand what the audience needs are, which is everything from fast delivery to the multitude of currencies and languages being sold to. We’ve implemented the same approach on the business side of things — what product partners want, where they want to get to with their business. More importantly, where they are at in terms of money and resources. We’ve used this twin perspective to develop a lens we can apply to any particular partner around the world.

Our own partnership with Bear Grylls Ventures has grown beyond the realms of creative and technical expertise. We’re sharing in the upside of the deal, too. We get rewarded for our achievements with the brand. It’s a risk and big responsibility, but it means that we can take even more ownership and ensure that the greatest ROI will affect everyone involved.

Essentially, we’ve become a very focused extension of the Bear Grylls’ team, communicating constantly and working collectively.

It’s a way of working the team at Retrofuzz have always dreamed of; immersing ourselves as part of the in-house team and using our expertise to deliver the best results.

Deliver Solutions

In 2019, we predict that the most progressive agencies will begin to reinvent themselves as a flexible, agile team of specialists that are built around their client’s exact needs. Many brands now employ their own in-house creative teams. Agencies will need to evolve to offer solutions to specific problems, and work as partners, rather than just providing a breadth of work to a specific brief.

And honestly, a brief can just slow things down.

We’d rather have a call, maybe do a workshop. We want to understand, together with our clients, what the actual problem is so we can solve it as effectively, and quickly, as possible.

One thing we’ve always done at RetroFuzz is ask questions. Constantly. Sometimes to the point where a client has thought we’ve overstepped the mark, especially when they’ve given us a strict brief. But we are firm believers in transparency in the way we communicate; our client’s commercial interests always come first, and we will always advocate for what we think is right, for them.

We care about our clients, we care about their customers; we want to get their brand message out to the world and inspire people to buy their products.

This year, we want to work with clients that, like Bear Grylls Ventures, believe in what we do. Matt and I will remain at the heart of our business, creating meaningful change for the brands we love and delivering the best results possible.

JMx

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