This is the second interview in our ‘what matters to the team’ series (you can read the first one here). We’ve created this blog series to help you understand the people behind the campaigns. So this week, it was our Creative Director, Mike Danher’s turn.
Mike, how did you end up at Kaleidoscope?
A lot of people don’t realise just how long the agency has been running, we’re currently 34 years old. I joined Kaleidoscope in the 90s — I joined when I was 25! But how did I get there?
After Uni, I took a job at a small design agency in Manchester; here, my passion for design really kicked in. After a few years, I moved down to London to immerse myself in the advertising world. After a couple of years I realised it was a scene that didn’t suit me – and that you don’t need to be in the capital to create brilliant campaigns.
So I moved back where I’d started, to Liverpool. The day I landed I saw a job ad in the Echo for Kaleidoscope for a Junior Art Director, so my fate was sealed. I quickly rose up through the ranks to become Creative Director. It’s always been a place I’ve thoroughly enjoyed working down to the wide variety of projects we get involved in, and the pride we always take in what we do.
I’m always driven by the quality ideas we put forward, and I’m lucky that Kaleidoscope has always had the same thought process. Emphasis is always put on the calibre of the concepts — it’s the foundation of every project we do.
What does your typical day look like?
Every day is different, and that’s how I like it. Alongside normal workflow, I might have a client meeting or a board meeting to discuss how the team is getting on, but one thing that remains constant is our morning scrums. These are vital when it comes to clear communication — our creative team meeting consists of our team of four — me, our project manager, Andrea, junior designer Daniella, and senior designer Milena. Plus we are always open to collaborating with external professionals in their field – from illustrators to photographers. A big part of my role is matching the right expertise to the right project.
After our scrums, we’ll have individual discussions about particular projects throughout the day. As the Creative Director, I focus on the bigger picture — getting involved with jobs in the initial stages to shape their direction and then at key points along the way to make sure they are on the right track. I thrive off working with the team and supporting them to be the best they can be.
I enjoy working here, I like the team, and it’s exciting. I can see how the business has been revitalised over recent years with new faces, and a new office — we’re like a new company.
When it comes to client work, what matters most to you?
Collaboration with everyone — clients and team members. Getting clients involved in the initial stages of concept development is so beneficial to the outcome of the project. It’s crucial clients feel like they’re on the journey with us — it’s their brand, after all.
Aside from getting the client involved early doors, it’s important to me that our concepts aren’t fixed, we leave room for flexibility, and that’s why we don’t just present one polished concept; we share several rough layouts. It’s important the client doesn’t just focus on graphics and colours and instead focus on whether the proposition is on point.
I think this is the secret to Kaleidoscope’s longevity — we don’t deliver a set solution — every client campaign and project is bespoke and tailored.
What’s your favourite project you’ve worked on?
Over the years, we’ve had the pleasure of working a lot with Alder Hey Children’s Hospital, and every time we work with them it’s really enjoyable. In particular we’ve worked with Liverpool FRESH CAMHS, which is part of the Alder Hey Trust — a mental health service for children and young people up to the age of 18.
We initially held some creative workshops with young people and through working together with them we created the name, logo and brand; they loved getting involved, tearing up magazines to develop a visual approach. The result was an award winning project that had a really positive impact on everyone involved. You can learn more about the great work FRESH CAMHS do here.
Any tips for anyone looking to get into the creative agency field?
In my experience, it’s important to have a conceptual mind, a mind open to exploring concept developments. But having said that, it’s equally essential to have good design skills and a good understanding of the software used in design would be advantageous — but you will develop this in time.
Being able to show that you look at things differently is important, too. For example, it doesn’t look good if you have a portfolio where all pieces follow a similar in-house design style. You need to show that you’re led by the client and that you take their ideas on board and apply your design skills to bring them to life.
If you’re intrigued by a career in a creative agency, we welcome anyone looking for work experience with open arms. Get in touch.
Find out what we’re doing to improve employability and skills in the North West.