Katy Wilkinson, Brand Consultancy

I'm Katy, and I'm an account manager

Describe your job

I’m an Account Manager for an independent brand consultancy based in London Bridge. We work with a wide range of clients, from sports to fashion, food, logistics, charities (the list goes on), and specialise in creating a clear defendable territory for them in the marketplace.

We immerse ourselves in their business to better understand who they are, what they do, why they do it, and what their point of difference is and to figure out how they can stand out from the competition. And once we’ve figured this out, we look at how it should inform their brand identity and how they communicate with their target audience.

Day to day I work with a lovely bunch of talented consultants, writers and designers on a variety of different projects – some are big brand development projects, others are smaller and more focused, e.g. a brand strategy, a launch campaign, a workshop, a piece of comms.

My role is essentially to manage the project through the studio, so: taking the brief, discussing it with the team, agreeing an approach, costing it up, making sure the project is efficiently resourced and everyone knows what they’re meant to be doing and when, maintaining contact with the client throughout, managing regular internal and external check-ins, and ensuring we deliver on time, within the agreed budget and that the client is happy.

On the bigger projects I’ll play a more supporting role and work with my Client Services Director or Account Director, and on smaller projects I’ll be given the responsibility to run these independently.

Every day is different due the range of clients and projects we have going through the studio, but most days involve a selection of the activities I mentioned above.

What are the most important skills you need to do your job?

You need to be a good communicator and be able to relate to a wide range of people, because a lot of the time you’re talking to clients - sharing work, writing proposals, discussing new projects, but you also have to manage the difficult conversations and communicate the challenges when things aren’t going to plan. And if you’re not talking to clients, you’re talking to the team – relaying briefs, feedback, nagging them about deadlines or asking them to do a quick favour. So it helps to be nice!

You need to have a keen eye for detail, as I found particularly when I first started out, I was doing (and still do) a lot of proof reading!

You also need to be pretty organised because there tends to be a lot of spinning plates – you need to be on top of everything going on with each project and always anticipating what needs to happen next, to make sure things keep running through the studio. If you like writing lists – that’s a great start.

As a last point – it really helps if you’re passionate about what you do and the work the team are producing. You need to learn how to contribute to creative reviews, to form your own opinions and to challenge what’s in front of you so the quality of the work is the best it can possibly be.

I left school and...

I left school and went straight into an Art & Design Foundation year at Falmouth, which then led to me to doing a Fine Art degree at the University of Leeds.

I actually wanted to be a graphic designer throughout all of university and had planned to do an MA in Graphic Design afterwards, but was lucky enough to get a work placement at a brand & design agency to get a feel for the job and make sure this is what I really wanted. But whilst I was there, I realised there were lots of other creative jobs I could have without having to do an MA or be a graphic designer. I did my best to make a good impression and landed my first role at the same agency as a Junior Creative Strategist.

However, after a year in this role, I found I was getting more stuck into the account management side of things – this felt more tailored to my personality and I also found it more rewarding and satisfying.

So, when I felt like it was the right time to move, I applied for an Account Executive / Account Manager role at the brand consultancy I’m at now.

To my slight disappointment but not complete surprise, I was initially brought on as an Account Executive, mainly due to my lack of experience in this role, but with the assurance that when ready, I would be promoted. And as promised, after one year I became an Account Manager.

I’m most proud of...

We’ve been working with Southampton FC for over 2 years now – we started off by developing their new brand identity and have since supported them with the roll-out across the business. We’ve worked with the Club, the Academy, the Partnerships team, and their sub-brands: Saints Events, Saints Foundation and Saints Learning.

This is the case study which showcases the on-going work we have been doing with them - I particularly enjoyed working with the team to develop their rendered mascots Sammy & Mary. But this is a really good example of where we have been able to support with the implementation of the new identity and maintained a good relationship with the team over there.

Work property of The Clearing

Before I started my career, I wish I knew…

Working on well-known, cool, sexy brands can be fun, but don’t dismiss the smaller brands which you’ve never heard of.

These can actually be just as, if not more, interesting to work on, and you can make a much bigger difference. So many agencies will have the same big brands on their client list because they’ll have done one project for them ages ago, so don’t get sucked in by this.

I personally think one of the most important things to ensuring you have a happy career is being somewhere which is a good cultural fit for you, where you really get on with the team.

A mistake I made which you can avoid repeating is...

Believe in your ability and take every opportunity you get. You learn the most when you have the courage to step outside your comfort zone, and don’t be afraid to ask for help!

Also try not to take things too personally if something goes wrong - you work with a team of people, so there is a shared responsibility there.

So, what’s next?

As an Account Manager the next obvious step is Senior Account Manager, and perhaps one day Client Services Director. I’m enjoying where this role is taking me so far, although I might consider going client side or into advertising, but who knows what the future holds…

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