Spinach senior copywriter on creating a campaign identity for Knight Frank

A year ago, international property consultant Knight Frank tasked Spinach to create a new creative toolkit for its main market sales and lettings offering. Working in partnership with the senior marketing team, the design and branding studio created a set of guidelines to help for an engaging and impactful marketing collateral.

Part of the project involved creating adverts for a large-scale out-of-home campaign. This was a great opportunity to bring the new campaign identity, developed by Spinach, to life and build the message around word and image. We caught up with Spinach senior copywriter Owain Thomas to see the importance of words in conveying a compelling message.

How did the campaign evolve?

Knight Frank responded really well to the one/two-word header style we proposed in the toolkit and immediately saw how this simple shift in their pitch would add further impact, clarity and confidence to their marketing. Move/Found, the initial part of the Spinach campaign with Knight Frank, was about creating a more direct, simplified message that conveyed the Knight Frank ‘difference’ as quickly and clearly as possible. The second iteration of the Move/Found campaign built on first, again incorporating vibrant lifestyle imagery – this time expanding on the message with more copy to reinforce the benefits of selling or letting through Knight Frank.

Tell us about the process..

We held a number of brand workshops with Knight Frank to fully understand the core market area of its business. Out of these, we developed the look and feel of the Move/Found campaign which was based on the company’s knowledge of its business and the target market. The imagery and copy worked together to convey the sentiment that Knight Frank’s service is rooted in a clear understanding of what the core market customer wants when they’re looking to sell or let property. The truth is buying a property or finding a suitable tenant is never going to be the most enjoyable activity, so we wanted to say that having an expert like Knight Frank on-board would enable you to get back to something you preferred doing a lot sooner.

Based on this concept, how important was copy in communicating the brand?

Creating words takes a slightly more straightforward approach than design because words are usually rooted in certain ‘truths’ about the brand, its personality, products or services. In this case it was about reflecting a global reputation, proudly independent, fast service… All these attributes are grist to the mill for a brand writer.

In my experience of working alongside designers, the more professional ones look further afield for inspiration, working from the outside in, refining ideas and inspiration into a system that fits the brand from multiple angles. Instead, I have found that creating good copy for brands works in the opposite direction. You start with the fundamentals – the who, the why and the what – which then become the driving values, vision and promise of the brand. Then you work outwards, expanding and amplifying the message. That is not the only way to do it, of course, but that is how we create the brand tone-of-voice – essentially the brand’s personality in words.

How did you turn this insight into the tube poster manifesto piece?

The idea behind the ‘manifesto’ piece was to press the reset button on what had come before from Knight Frank and indeed other estate agents, and see if we could reinvent the estate agent’s sales letter. All too often these pieces concentrate on past achievements and the promise of potential buyers which is all great factual information, yet it also can be a little dry and predictable.

Instead, we tried to break the convention a little and overturn a few assumptions about Knight Frank regarding its size and heritage. People may think the company is too big to understand the specific needs of a domestic client, or too high-end to appreciate their budget constraints. Our aim was to further humanise Knight Frank with a lighter, conversational piece, to engage with the audience more quickly and effectively. Rather than just selling the features of its service, we highlight the benefits of partnering with a globally networked operator with excellent local knowledge, driven to uphold an excellent reputation over maximising profits in the short term.

Since you’ve been working with Spinach, the studio has grown substantially to include a wide range of customers from drinks and hospitality, to education, property and beyond. What challenges do you face as a copywriter?

The kind of challenges a copywriter thrives on! There are lots of different industries, products and services to investigate and understand. As an agency, we make it clear from the offset that the client is the expert in their field and we are the ones who assimilate the information and turn it into compelling concepts and communication. Copywriting challenges only arise when there is a confusion as to who is the expert in what, and the expectation for the copywriter to know everything is set way too high. Here we have a process that ensures we are all on the same page when we start the project.

What is the most exciting part of the job for you?

It’s always exciting when a campaign goes live or a publication is printed and bound. But it’s also exciting when you get that initial eureka! moment with a concept, a name, a paragraph or a line for a client that just nails it to the wall. Even more exciting is when the client agrees! With that in mind, I’ve learned not to get too excited or inflated about a concept until it has been fully interrogated and sense checked by colleagues or the client. If you get carried away and work too hard into something you can sometimes create something completely off brief – albeit utterly beautiful in your own mind. I find it’s wiser to keep the excitement level on a steady simmer until the project is over.

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