We recently collaborated with our client King Arthur Flour (“Baking with joy since 1790”) to produce the premiere issue of Sift (“Living. Breathing. Baking.”), a 112-page baking/lifestyle magazine. Look for it at a high-end grocery store or bookseller near you.
It occurred to us that successful agency–client collaboration and baking something delicious have a lot in common.
Fresh ideas, clarified
Cooperative spirit (distilled)
Generous amount of flexibility
Mental elbow grease, as needed
Dash of enthusiasm
Modicum of trust (highly perishable; handle with care)
Define your target. (Whom are you baking for?) Do your research. (What do they crave? What are they still hungry for?) Decide on a dish and a direction.
Get all your ingredients measured and ready. This is called mise en place. Get together regularly with the client in person. This is called “eye to eye.” Both save a lot of time and trouble.
3. Divide. (And conquer.)
Keep dry ingredients with dry, wet with wet. Don’t try to do too much all at once, or all on your own. Decide who’s doing what and let them do it.
Each ingredient has its purpose; everyone brings something to the party. Start putting things together. It might not look very appetizing at this point, but that’s OK—Rome wasn’t baked in a day.
Round and round. (Many rounds.) You want a nice, smooth blend. But don’t beat it to death. A few lumps add that homemade character.
Step back and give it a rest. Let the dough rise, the flavors meld. Come back with fresh eyes and it’s amazing what will suddenly appear obvious.
Season to taste. It’s not quite what you expected? How exciting! Take care to fix what needs fixing, but there’s no going back. Make it the best possible version of what it is, even if it’s not what you first imagined.
In the oven or in the back-and-forth with the client, heat has transformative power. Respect the alchemy. What you’re doing is the epitome of the whole being greater than the sum of its parts.
And don’t forget to share—the results and the credit.
Crumbs to chew on
Keep your balance. Don’t reinvent the wheel, but don’t make just another wheel.
Celebrate differences. Success takes a mix of talents, abilities, and experiences.
Be positive. A problem-solving desire to make things better usually does.
Be a partner, not a peacock. It’s our work, but it’s the client’s thing. Embrace the nature of the relationship. Remember, supporting actors win Oscars too.