Cultivating B.R.A.V.I.N.G Relationships
Author: Marina Semaan

Trust is the basis in which all relationships revolve around. In people, it allows for a sense of honesty and dependency. In business, it does the same. When trust is intact, we feel a shared purpose and determination in contributing to helping one another. This is why trust is of the most fundamental Adcreators’ values. Brands entrust businesses in their network to bring added value, letting them in to cooperate and collaborate to better performance and leverage resources. Through establishing and upholding a reputation of trust, the quality of relationships between Agency → businesses; Agency → individuals; Agency → partners; and Agency → teams is the secret to our account management success.

In Professor Brené Brown’s Rising Strong, a little acronym is cleverly defined that makes up the essential components of trust – and this is how Adcreators builds, fosters and upholds the Agency-client relationship.

BoundariesIn context, setting boundaries defines early on what is and what is not expected and accepted. It allows the marketing team to understand the client’s objectives and vision, while outlining early on the key responsibilities of both parties. 

Although “setting boundaries” can sometimes have a restrictive connotation, when it comes to a stepping stone for trust it paves the way for hope and honesty. 

How do we set boundaries? In Agency life, it means saying yes to things we can deliver. Sometimes we (as individuals) are prone to say “yes” without clear consideration and confidence. Boundaries do not mean we say “no” to opportunity, but rather, we take on board suggestions and feedback that we contemplate, evaluate and strategically plan in the best interest of clients and their audience. Boundaries guard details

Reliability Simply put, reliability is doing what one says they will do. 

Brands value predictability. Wearing it like a badge of honour, to be reliable is to walk the walk. As a precondition for trust, is to be committed to delivering. It involves being aware of our strengths and team’s talents and acting accordingly. It also involves being aware of any shortcomings or hurdles along the way, and identifying ways in which to avoid or navigate around them. Fulfilling commitments and staying true to your word positively portrays the Agency’s own mission and values. Showing competence, it is also one of the key reasons prospective clients will hear, through positive word-of-mouth and referrals, about happy clients’ experiences. 

Accountability – The elemental force of trust bounds relationships, while its absence causes fragmentation. Accountability is owning up to responsibility and tackling problems head on. In business-client relationships, each party is accountable for their own areas of expertise. Either party understands their clear roles and functions and is held liable for seeing them through to execution. It’s about a win/win. This enables the culture of trust to thrive through the successful fulfillment of responsibilities. If mistakes are made, accountability does not mean taking “blame” but rather, proactively taking measures to counter current crises and prevent future problems.

Vault Confidentiality is a delicate bargain of trust.” Martin Ugwu

In building, a vault is a room used to store and secure valuables. In tech, a vault is a (cloud-based) tool to control access to confidential data such as passwords and API keys. In business, a vault is a metaphoric agreement of privileged information. When brands let Agencies in, they are trusting the correct use of information, the highest levels of secrecy and the inevitable, assumed privacy that each entity is entitled to. The trust “vault” places the core importance of covertness in business associations. Even if it must be agreed to by both parties via specifically-written documents such as disclosure statements, by both entities respecting the other’s information, the element of trust is strengthened, appreciated and observed. Further, it prevents leaks and data breaches.

Integrity – Upholding moral principles and acting in fairness is often listed in many brands’ values and/or pillars. Integrity is a pillar which acts as a strong foundation in building business’ success. Businesses must recognise integrity amongst its leaders and in line with company culture as:

  • Doing what is right, because it is the right thing to do
  • Meeting commitments to clients
  • Being courteous, considerate and courageous 
  • In the face of adversity, showing kindness and understanding

Non-judgement – Non-judgement takes the personal bias out of business. Often it can be difficult to draw a fine line between subjectivity and objectivity, but it is essential to do so. Applying a non-judgemental practice is vital to communication and starts with being mindful of our actions. As an Agency, we are made up of a diverse group of people, across different backgrounds who have adopted a diverse set of beliefs. We also partner with other agencies, organisations and providers who, like us, are uniquely characterised by diversity. This is the beauty of our multicultural and free society, but can sometimes act against us. Going against the grain can be a little intrinsically challenging for some, and this is why non-judgement can be difficult to master. On the contrary, this is why it is important to master, because these small habits place a world of good in day-to-day dealings with others. No bias. No favouritism. No unfairness.

Generosity – Last but certainly not least, is generosity, a profound act of kindness. 

It is a naturally outward expression of an inner attitude and belief, and this is why it is valuable to embed generosity into company culture. Often this notion may seem like a personal trait that cannot be adapted to a business setting, but this is the one reason generosity in business is a positive reflection of the brand’s persona: Offering invaluable time, expertise and dedication to clients is a willingness to consider the successes of others, and care about their victory. 

Through intentions, actions and words, infusing generosity into a business introduces the corporate brand as caring and compassionate. These traits are resonant with clients who have been touched by kindness, and in turn, builds long-lasting advocacy.  

B.R.A.V.I.N.G. relationships have successfully contributed to the Agency’s ability to form a strong network of clients, business and suppliers that we now proudly call, partners. Trust ultimately takes time to build and only seconds to lose, so in building it and watering it, we allow for all the positive attributes of trust to bloom. Trust is fundamental to our relationships and the cornerstone of fostering loyalty, support and happy, happy, clients.

About the Author

Marina’s prominent role is overseeing the Agency’s key accounts, developing solutions that meet consumer needs while coordinating business personnel. Leading initiatives and fostering long-term relationships, her part behind the scenes and at the frontline is cross-functional, collaborative… and always a reason to strut in slingbacks.

Marina Semaan
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