Jon Butler is the MD of Big Brand Ideas, he talks to BQ about life as an MD and how he likes to unwind outside of work time.
What is it the company does?
Big Brand Ideas is a customer engagement agency based in Macclesfield, Cheshire. We started out with just two employees seven years ago, now the business is made up of a 50-strong team of some of the industry’s most talented individuals, who have extensive experience of working within major agencies and with influential brands.
We help businesses grow through intelligent insight, creativity and engagement. In an increasingly complex media environment, many brands are losing their way and failing to connect with their consumers. We work with our clients to rediscover their brand’s essence and bring it to life through our Intelligent Engagement approach.
As a full-service agency, we cut through the competitor noise, drive engagement, improve conversion and deliver tangible results and long-term business growth for our clients.
Describe your role in no more than 100 words
My role as managing director is to create a clear vision for the business as well as providing support for each individual department. I’m extremely lucky to be surrounded by a very strong senior management team and between us we set the direction for Big Brand Ideas and the goals we’re aiming to achieve.
Give us a brief timeline of your career so far – where did you start; how did you move on?
When I left school, I attended the University of Salford before going on to work for several agencies. I’m born and bred in Macclesfield and I’d always wanted to be involved in business in the area, so I spent time working for local companies including eazyfone, envirofone, CollectaCase and Just EPC. I was Brand Manager for envirofone for eight years, where I was responsible for leading the company’s rebrand, but I’d always had a desire to be my own boss so decided to set-up a consultancy business.
Initially I focused on marketing and design support, however when clients began to request SEO and PPC services I saw the opportunity to expand, and Big Brand Ideas was born.
What do you believe makes a great leader?
Someone who isn’t afraid to show their human side, sees the good in people and tries to get the best out of everyone. It’s important to be part of the team and lead by example, if you need to stay late to help finish a big proposal document and support colleagues then that’s what you do.
What has been your biggest challenge in your current position?
I’d say the biggest challenge so far has been managing the growth of the business. In the space of 12 months we have more than doubled in size, which on one hand demonstrates our success, but also presents new challenges such as office space and integrating new team members. It’s an extremely exciting time for us and I wouldn’t change a thing, but it has certainly been a challenge.
How do you alleviate the stress that comes with your job?
I find exercise to be a great way of alleviating stress. I like to go for a run, I love circuit training and I also box, as well as the occasional game of football. I try to do something each night after work as it helps focus my mind.
When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?
When I was really little I wanted to be a super hero. However, if I’m being completely honest I spent a long time not knowing what I wanted to do, but I don’t think that’s a bad thing, I think it’s important not to worry about those kinds of things, eventually we all find our path in life and the role that best suits you.
Any pet hates in the workplace? What do you do about them?
On some occasions in the past I think we lacked belief in ourselves. When it came to pitching for new business and facing competition from bigger agencies. I think our culture is down to earth and humble, but we’re also made of strong stuff. We have an incredibly talented team who prove time and again that they are more than capable of delivering for major brands.
Where do you see the company in in five years’ time?
I want Big Brand Ideas to be one of the biggest agencies in the North West. I want brands to be coming directly to us because we apply a different way of thinking to briefs. Our approach has been to recruit a talented team with big agency and brand experience in order to give our clients the best advice possible. I truly believe we do things differently here and that allows us to have a much greater impact on the accounts and campaigns we work on.
What advice would you give to an aspiring business leader?
You need to be determined and stick at it, things won’t fall into place immediately. I remember people laughing at me for saying I’d have a million-pound turnover business when I first started out, but we reached that milestone two years ago. Things won’t always be perfect but it’s important to persevere.
What do you wish someone had told you when you started out?
It’s not possible to do everything yourself, trust in the team around you and learn to take a step back. We’ve built a team of incredibly talented individuals that have come from some of the biggest agencies in the country for that exact reason. I’ve seen the value of this over the years and it’s been an absolute pleasure to watch us grow as a team and an agency.
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