Updated: Jan 12
One of the hardest things working as a freelance creative strategist, apart from finding a balance between project-based work and long-term collaborations, is getting a brand to trust you.
One of the hardest things working as a freelance creative strategist, apart from finding a balance between project-based work and long-term collaborations, is getting a brand to trust you. The truth is, when you don't have a big name behind you and you are still growing your professional reputation solo, it may take a few projects before you are able to land 'your dream project'. And by a few, I mean a lot. For me, this meant working in a purposeful and honest way with a brand I admire, bringing up the full potential of us both. This is where magic, and success, happens.
Even if you are a confident storyteller and have ninja PPT skills, your portfolio may not look as sexy as the hard work you've put behind it.
As a strategist, you spend a lot of your time doing the unsexy bits of communications. Writing creative briefs, doing competitors' reviews and brand audits, researching trends, analysing audience data, mapping out consumer journeys. Even if you are a confident storyteller and have ninja PPT skills, your portfolio may not look as sexy as the hard work you've put behind it -vs a designer's portfolio, per se. Interesting enough, not rarely the most exciting parts of your work are the internal bits. For me, it all starts by crafting a brand workshop with the team, trying to get insight and inspiration from as many departments of the business as possible: logistics, product, design, sales, brand, communications, digital. And step by step build my knowledge and contribution from there.
For many years, I was shy about my writing background. As a trained journalist and experienced copywriter, I was told I had to focus more on my strategic side of skills, to get better at analysing data so I could support my recommendations and learn the industry jargon in order to be trusted. Interesting enough, I slowly started to lose what made me different and unique: my creative nature, based on my gut feeling, well-rounded life experience and passion for all-things-words. 'Well that is all very nice but when you are in the middle of a Pandemic and people are losing jobs, your gut feeling may not be the best tool'. Well, I couldn't disagree more.
Back in November 2019, I've started to work with Paez, a global fashion brand that has been in the business of selling espadrilles since 2006. Paez, like so many other founders' brands, has started small and purposeful but somehow they lost the mojo along the way. From being local to becoming global, supporting fair-trade communities to operate in a fast-fashion context, having control over the whole chain to having to delegate, all growing pains that can be hard to heal. Interesting enough, there was something they did not lose: their flame. From day one I could see it was still there. That will of doing more and better each day delivered to all their costumers via their comfortable, fun and affordable shoes.
So we've started to develop together the Essence of Paez, a project where collaboration, trust and honesty were key factors to success. After having the internal strategy and deliverables signed-off -values -purpose, brand voice, tone and manifesto, we went out shooting a beautiful lifestyle campaign in Lisbon. The lock-down, COVID-19 or alcool-gel were not the most researched words by then, but interesting enough, all the manifesto was about living the day to day in a more purposeful way, more aligned with our own values. Walk the talk was our invite, and we felt it was super right. We were ready to go.
Then this all the COVID madness started and we were forced to pause. Shops had to close down, the new collection to be accessed, finance to be taken care very carefully. It was not easy. Yet, the brand campaign was already produced and finished, ready to be launched. As you may imagine, all questions came to our minds. Is this the right timing to do it, is it not?; are the words respectful, are the visuals appropriate? what are we going to do with all this investment? The list went on. So we gathered as a team, in one of our (now) Zoom meetings. The PAEZ brand was always here to bring more colour, playfulness and comfort to our days. And that did not change, even when we are at home.
So we've listened and watched the video over and over again. The more we've done it, the more sense it made to launch it. So we did it - you can watch it here.
This campaign was created and shot in Lisbon and the models you see are mostly the PAEZ team. As you may sense, what we are communicating, a more mindful and inspiring life, aligned with our purpose of doing things a little bit better day by day, didn’t change with the new circumstances. So we kept the copy exactly as it was - the manifesto I had the pleasure to write -which couldn't make me happier and helped me to make peace with my writing background.
So today I bring you good news, as we can all do with a bit more of those. The Walk the talk campaign is out and about, sharing a message of hope, colour and a bit of fun. Like the good old times, when this campaign was shot in beautiful Lisbon. This goes without saying it couldn't have been possible without all the involved team, plus a client that is brave enough to trust, listen and give constructive feedback, even when things get rough.
I hope you enjoy it as much as we've enjoyed doing it.
For now, stay safe and keep walking the talk at home. Till we're able to go back outside, step by step.