My Week: Simon Cotterrell of Goosebumps

The branding consultancy founder talks offshore companies, football tables at work, and smashing your head against a brick wall.

by Michael Northcott
Last Updated: 09 Oct 2013

The point of our business is coming up with the best ideas for our clients so I spend a lot of each week weeding through rubbish ideas to try and whittle down the best creative stuff.

We spend a lot of time brainstorming, and we have a big open plan office, we have football tables to play on, music playing, so it is not a traditional corporate space from that perspective. It is a fun place to work with quite a relaxed attitude. But there are breakout areas for if you need to go and smash your head against a wall until the good ideas start to flow. We try to make our offices a place where genuinely any idea can come out and an isolated environment really helps with that. 

I do a fair amount of travelling depending on where our clients are. A project I’m on at the moment is a Liechtenstein-based trust company. Their business problem is that they need to find new reasons for clients to invest their money with them. So we’re helping them reposition to take on a much broader "wealth management" proposition.

The firm has all this money in its pocket, but because of the changing tax law landscape, clients will need new reasons to keep their money there. He’s explained his vision to me in a very functional way, and now my job is to turn that into a manifesto and a story. 

From the sublime to the ridiculous, I’m busy at the moment with a job we’re doing for Tesco. They’re looking to make their own-brand selection more interesting we’ve just launched these new llama-shaped biscuits for them. They’re little baked bites and we’ve been coming up with a ‘character’ for them. Instead of just being llama-shaped, there is now a character, ‘Llama’ and he is very opinionated about how boring the rest of the snacks on the shelf are. 

I originally started the business about four years ago after being on the consultancy side in advertising. I did it because of the classic ‘I can do it better’ frustration. In a big business it is often the senior executives who will tout for the work and win the contracts, but we all know it’s the juniors who then get put to work on the bread and butter of it. In my business we’re obviously very small (around 15 people), so to start with we effectively only had senior experience people working for the clients. That meant we could bring an unusual level of boldness and maturity to the consultancy side.

We are a new company (we only launched in 2008), and because we jump around from sector to sector, our approach is pretty fresh. We get to put our ‘idiot hat’ on and learn about businesses from scratch. That level of naivety means we can ask the dumb questions that clients have forgotten. 

Getting branding right from this perspective can chorale staff and is a powerful tool. It is more than just a logo and headed paper. 

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