A London-based Brand Interactions Agency
London, June 27th, 2016
The way brands connect with consumers is crucial in the digital age. Brands know that to succeed they must have a strong online presence that seamlessly carries their voice across all digital mediums. Matter Of Form is a brand interactions agency that helps businesses bridge this gap between users and brands through digital and experimental methods.
Based in the neighborhood of Shoreditch, Matter Of Form focus on three disciplines: innovation, brand experience design and commerce. In every project the team are dedicated to exceptional craftsmanship; conveyed in the array of well-known brands the agency has been honored to work with. Some notable clients include The World Economic Forum, Karen Millen, Swarovski, Aman Resorts, CNBC and UNICEF.
Leading the gifted staff at Matter of Form is the accomplished Founder and CEO, Anant Sharma. A designer, entrepreneur, savvy businessman, and decorated DJ, Anant is a man of many passions and talents. From launching and running his own agency, Anant has learned a lot as both a design professional and a business leader. We chatted with him to hear his advice for young people, thoughts on entrepreneurship, and general insight into the future of this exciting and constantly-changing field.
What phrases best describe Matter of Form?
Exceptional craftsmanship. Good-hearted business. Seek to to help, not to please.
As an agency having a set of principles you live by is essential, and we audit every client engagement and recruitment decision against these values – something that seems basic but makes a huge impact, and really permeates through the agency culture.
What are some challenges you and your team face?
As a brand interaction agency, finding the optimal balance in short term data driven decisions and long-term brand decisions can be hard. People get scared by short-term metrics – it can be a real cold light of day moment. But clients can forget that they’ve spent x amount of time building a brand and a bunch of reactive decisions aren’t always right in the long term. And it can be quite hard sometimes – digital is a (relatively) new thing that’s always changing, and we have to deal with a whole variety of stakeholders with varying levels of knowledge, and with wildly differing budgets and expectations.
We also have to constantly stay ahead of the curve. One of our company values is to aspire to learn, and we make sure this thirst for knowledge comes naturally to everyone we hire.
What have you learned as a CEO?
As a craft based business you develop a huge amount of respect for your colleagues – with this comes a degree of humility that is think is vital in leadership. When people recognize there is a mutual respect between everyone in the organization (whatever their role), they become more empowered to take ownership of their objectives, and work towards results.
We’re lucky to have a great family-like work environment. I love coming in every-day and I admire everyone who works here for very unique reasons. And I think that feeling is shared across the organization.
What are some campaigns you’re especially proud of?
We were delighted to produce work for PA consulting as they are an exceptional firm – we helped successfully re-position them in the market. Currently we are working on a big project for UNICEF that involves a large-scale service design piece of work. The goal is to ultimately improve creativity in developing countries.
Our redevelopment of the Aman Resorts brand was a great experience – it’s one of the best hospitality products in the world. Always a big responsibility when such a vast amount of brand equity sits in your hands.
Which countries excite you in terms of digital creativity?
Berlin I have always loved – I was so close to moving there when the agency was in its infancy. Also, I recently visited Tel Aviv and I uncovered some real gems in the tech scene, I was super impressed. Great parties too.
How did you become interested in the field?
I’ve always been passionate about design. I started out as a freelance designer, working for some extra cash on the side while at university. I later ended up as the company’s creative director, and then moved in at a digital agency, albeit incredibly briefly – we’re talking one or two months.
Fundamentally I love the coming together of design and content. When you couple that with the fact I’m a bit of a techy, it’s the perfect industry for me really.
But I have zero agency experience, and I think it’s worked to our advantage. None of the indoctrination you get from people who work at bigger network agencies. We’ve had to fight for every brief, and we don’t take anything for granted.
What does the word creativity mean to you?
Creativity for me is an ability to look at something in a new way. And great design is solving a need or a problem.
Describe your daily routine:
One day to another is never the same. But my role is a blend of new business meetings, business strategy, a little PR, a little HR. A lot of relationship development. I’m out most evenings and I travel a lot. I really, really enjoy myself!
Are there online publications, professionals, industry leaders you follow?
My news sources are super fragmented and change on a daily basis. I don’t consume the news through a set selection of publications, it’s all a bit haywire really.
What do you like doing in your free time:
DJ’ing and producing music. I decided to make my job my number 2. I have DJ’d house, techno, disco and all forms of electronic at events in the UK and across Europe. I also enjoy downhill mountain biking and writing faux raps instead of serious company speeches.
Where do you see the industry going in the near future?
From me, digital is a relatively meaningless term. It’s a bit like working in ‘broadcast’. It’s about content and services delivered to users by brands, consistently across every touchpoint, wherever they choose to ‘pick up the conversation’.
So far me, our job is to understand users better, so we can help brands develop products and services that truly meet their needs. That, and helping brands find their niche and focus – in an age when every business seems to be trying to do everything, it’s better to really mean something to someone, than everything to no one…
What advice would you give to someone hoping to work in this field?
It’s important to pay your dues. There are so many small companies (which is great), but there’s a lot of lazy hiring and over promotion in agency land. You’re supposed to learn at work – (honestly) your title is meaningless. And I genuinely fully accept that about my own.
If you’re going to start something, pick your moment stick to it – the opportunity cost only grows exponentially with age. Another promotion. Another pay-rise. Another barrier to departure. Just go for it!
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