Jim Bull is the co-founder and CCO of Moving Brands, an independent creative company that has studios in San Francisco, New York, London and Zurich. Moving Brands partners with businesses to transform their brand to thrive in the moving world. They have worked with some of the most influential businesses in the world, including eight of the ten most valuable tech brands globally, as well as smaller, entrepreneurial startups.
How did your career as an agency executive take off, and what do you attribute your success to most?
Moving Brands was set up in 1998 immediately after I graduated from college in London. In those early days, we were a bunch of young designers who relied on our raw talent and energy more than anything else. Right from the start, we were fueled by a combination of determination, self-belief and a willingness to continually evolve our ideas — and this included harnessing creativity to achieve business success.
For me and the other co-founders, Moving Brands was, and still is, all about breaking the mold, not being afraid to be different and radical. None of us wanted to spend time in another agency becoming entrenched in mundane practices, so we decided to throw ourselves in at the deep end and go at it alone.
I’d put our successes down to having the determination to forge our own path and a firm belief that creativity helps you to achieve your business goals. Oh…and not having an ego, of course.
How do you keep yourself creative and driven regardless of how busy you are day to day?
When you’re delivering a project for a client, you can end up spending more time in the studio than at home. But that doesn’t mean your interests should take a back seat.
What is the point of being a designer, or any kind of creative, if you can’t reference the cultural landscape in which you work? The inability of some designers to engage with the wider world has led to the rise of what I term ‘sheepism’ over the past 15 years. Design can be good or “nice,” but often it just emulates what has gone before so it lacks that genuine spark of creativity. The edge, if you like.
This is one of the reasons why I work hard to feed my creativity, usually through watching movies of all genres. It helps me to reference the obvious and the obscure. I also love to make films and music whenever I get the chance.
Over the years, I have perfected my own technique for coming up with new ideas. It is based on free association, where I weave together seemingly random moments, ideas and objects, while thinking about the brief itself. It’s all about staring at the challenge as I allow the feelings and ideas it evokes to fill my mind. I then let my thoughts wander towards different words, visuals, people and objects as I arrive at a new perspective or way of thinking. Have trust in free association, and don’t simply rely on the data you have to hand.
What do you see as the future of media strategy or advertising?
In the coming years, we’ll see greater diversification in the creative industry, as well as the continued blending of all disciplines.
There is no doubt that media strategies will be radically reinvented, mainly because advances in technologies and potential adoption rates will make the current ways of working feel very old, very quickly. In fact it’s happening as we speak, with widely used channels like email, website and banner ads looking more tired and irrelevant.
What is your best PR, marketing or advertising tip for businesses?
Any business, operating in any sphere, should understand that truth it its most valuable asset. The most successful brands are the ones that stay true to themselves, telling real stories about what makes them who they are. It appeals to customers who share these stories and this helps the business sell its products or service.
At Moving Brands, we’ve always wanted to work with companies that at least partly capture that ethos. Businesses that are not afraid to try something different, even if it is not on-trend at the time, are the ones who will be remembered in years to come.