Great People: Introducing Matt Powell

Matt Powell is our Creative Director and boy, are we happy to have him on board.

He arrived at Great State armed with over two decades of experience leading Creative teams at some of the UK's top agencies. Along the way he's accumulated a whole lot of insight, a fair few anecdotes, a knack for getting to the heart of the brief and the skill to create something amazing off the back of it.

Hello, Matt!

Who are you and what do you do?

Hello! I’m Matt Powell, the Creative Director at Great State. My job is to use creativity and innovation to help organisations engage with customers. Why creativity? Because it’s pretty wild out there. Right along the customer journey there’s intense competition for customer’s attention. Participation is measured in split-seconds, and you’ve got to make each moment count. Generating emotion and consideration takes fresh thinking and brand understanding.

How did you get to be here?

I got into digital marketing at the very beginning – for context my first big online campaign was launching CNN news in the UK! Looking back, it's true that in the early days of digital we were making it up as we went along. But with every interaction being measured, ROI soon became second nature. Thankfully I also got mentored by some agency heavyweights who taught me some of the fundamentals of marketing. Now, no matter how on trend something looks, I still ask ‘is it on brand, is it memorable, is it relevant?’ It must have worked, I’ve worked on dream brands like Apple, Pepsi and Mini between then and joining Great State.

What are you working on right now?

Right now, I’m working on the Design System of the Royal Navy. Within it we’re trying to help evolve the brand and take it to a new place, one that will not only help deliver a better web experience but also excite and exceed the expectations of a Gen Z audience they need to reach.

I’m also involved in an exciting project about sustainability. I won’t for say who just yet, but messaging about emissions is a challenging brief because it's so invisible. It’s taken close collaboration with our strategists to avoid the trap of greenwashing.

How do you know when you’ve produced something great

I’ll let you into a secret, Creative Directors rarely (perhaps never) think they’ve produced anything great. We’re so close to the work that all we can see is what more you could have done. That said, 'great' happens when there’s a truth and a purpose behind the work that you’ve managed to bring to life, and you've crafted the outcome just enough. Users appreciate that, it helps build brands in the long term as well as delivering immediate results. Both of those things really matter to us at Great State.

What makes a strong client/agency partnership?

Agencies must be as invested in outcomes as clients. When you have this common goal, it allows you to be more challenging in the work. No matter how unconventional or confrontational the idea is, you know that behind it there’s that shared ambition.

In practical terms, I like it when a tonne of effort goes into the brief. It’s a big moment when it gets signed off by both sides, because it allows for braver work. Anything that answers that brief should be kept on the table and its merits discussed.

What excites you in life?

I’m at an exciting life stage since you ask. My daughter is about to study opera at a Conservatoire. I’m slowly getting to know my Puccini from my Bizet but there’s a whole world to learn about there. I’ve also got a long list of non-work-related big ideas I’d like to explore – concepts for game shows, new social platforms and theme parks to name a few… I just need several million pounds to make them a reality.

What is the future of tech looking like to you?

You’d have to have been living like a hermit not to be aware of how AI is changing the creative process. Photoshop Beta, ChatGPT plus a wealth of smart Figma plug-ins. The hype can be overwhelming but when you take a step back, it’s similar to how humans domesticated animals ten thousand years ago. When we crack it, we’ll be free to think deeper and further forward than we do at present.

Ask a question back. What do you want to know?

When you develop feelings for AI, are they real or artificial?

Want to get to know Matt even more? Say hello.

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