We talked to Jenny Stanley of Appetite Creative Solutions on how they connect brands to their audiences in today’s world.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Jenny Stanley: My husband, daughter, and I are in Madrid, Spain. It was a very strict lockdown, but now it’s more relaxed, but thank goodness we are all ok and doing well, thank you.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Appetite Creative Solutions.
Jenny Stanley: I am the Managing Director and Founder of Appetite Creative Solutions – a creative technology studio. Back from 2005, I have held senior roles at Microsoft, UTarget, Oddcast, Eyewonder, and Adform. Then, in 2015, I finally founded Appetite Creative Solutions, with the mission of advancing creative technology in advertising. We have offices in London and Dubai, but at the moment we are growing most rapidly in Madrid. I am glad to be celebrating our 6th anniversary in January 2021. It has been an exciting journey for everyone involved with us, from founders and employees to our clients.
How does Appetite Creative Solutions innovate?
Jenny Stanley: One of our core values is to create unique tech solutions to connect brands with today’s audiences. But in practice, I would say that one of the most important things for us is to constantly look at new ideas and trends that emerge around us in the most different industries and adapting solutions. This is what allows us to always be ahead when it comes to innovation and creativity. It is vital for a business like ours to stay awake and always find something in which we can improve, and it is our dedication to this that allows us and our clients to stand out!
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Jenny Stanley: As a leading creative technology studio, we’ve experienced a very different and far more positive trend this year. While April and May were challenging months, we’ve increased overall revenue this year. We will actually end the year 15% ahead of our 2020 target, with two of our best months to date seen in the latter part of this year.
We have diversified into creating virtual platforms and Virtual Reality training programs, which have seen a sharp rise in demand due to the impact of Covid-19. The demand for our social media services and website redesigns have also surged, with companies realizing the importance and value of digital platforms. More broadly, we have all seen a huge increase in the use of QR codes. As market leaders in delivering connected packaging and connected consumer experiences, we have worked with more brands than ever before, looking to deepen their direct relationships with their audiences via these channels.
Looking ahead, I’m feeling positive about the opportunities digital creative companies will have in 2021, as more and more brands rely on high-quality, innovative, and data-driven digital channels to connect with customers.”
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Jenny Stanley: As I said before, we can feel very lucky about the impact of the pandemic in our business, so that has naturally eased my choices and decisions throughout this period. However, as everyone else, we needed to adapt to the new circumstances. For instance, we used to have a classic five-day office week, and now we were forced to change and reduce it to only one day, while in the remaining, we work from home. However, it was not that difficult to make that decision since first of all, there was a major external motivation for us to make the change, and also, the team is very happy with the new way of working and the productivity has gone up, so there were general comprehension and acceptance from all members, which is the most important!
This situation has also provided us with some eye-openers and opportunities to innovate. Starting with internal productivity, I must say that I am glad to see that everyone at Appetite has adapted perfectly to the home-office environment, and the communication via WhatsApp, Microsoft Teams, or Zoom can be as fast and efficient as if we were all in the same building but in different offices – sometimes even better! Also, we realized that there was room for innovation in the way we were hosting our company events. Since physical presence is not recommendable these days in events, we shifted our focus to creating a webinar series called “The Talking Giraffe.” Promoting these virtual-events has allowed me personally to get in touch with people from all over Europe and even overseas, in what has been a fantastic journey of knowledge-sharing and insightful discussion, not only for me but hopefully for the hundreds of attendees that have been with us every month.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety?
Jenny Stanley: Home-office can indeed accelerate the pace of work, as we don’t now have those 30 minutes to travel between meetings or long travels to visit clients in other countries. So to keep everyone’s mental health, we have not established a mandatory one-hour lunch break so we can all disconnect from work and relax for a bit with our family or housemates if that’s the case. When we are all together in the office, we always try to have lunch together to create a balance between the virtual and physical team.
Your final thoughts?
Jenny Stanley: My advice for those looking to bounce back from this year – is not to be afraid to take a few risks and try out new revenue streams. Our new normal is a great opportunity to push out of your comfort zone, test and learn, upskill, and try new approaches. At Appetite Creative, we’ve done this with much success this year – and I can only recommend it!”