Isobar: The business transformer

Lindsay Bennett
By Lindsay Bennett | Sponsored

In this series we are celebrating some of the agencies that won big at the AdNews Agency of the Year Awards this year.

Last year was a big year for Isobar, growing to 290 staff, moving into new offices specifically designed to produce world-class experiences and refocusing what it means to be a digital agency in the modern media mileau.

What it means to be a digital agency in today’s digitally omnipresent context is something Isobar CEO Konrad Spilva and his team are always thinking about.

“We’ve had a lot of debate internally over the years about what it means to be a ‘digital agency’. We’re always evolving to work with new mediums and technologies while the scale and value of our work has exponentially increased.

“Digital agencies were born as underdogs. They had to fight to prove their value and have their voices heard at the agency table. It’s that underlying attitude of going the extra mile, continual change, never being complacent and constantly striving for more that makes a great digital agency. That’s us, and we’re very proud to be recognised as AdNews Digital Agency of the Year.”

Focusing on the core parts of its 2020 vision: digital marketing, digital ecosystems and digital product and services, Isobar produced a diverse collection of work for blue chip clients, including Holden, Jetstar, PayPal, Dulux, Kmart and ANZ.

“While ‘digital transformation’ is a bit of a hot topic, it’s something that we’ve been trying to deliver for our clients for 15 years. As digital has become more and more critical to business, brands and customers, the shape, size and importance of that transformation has grown dramatically,” Spilva said.

“We believe our three core offerings can deliver transformation on their own, but the real opportunity is when all three are approached together.”

The strategy is clearly working, with Isobar recognised as one of the Top 50 Innovative Companies by the Australian Financial Review this year.

“When it comes to innovation we focus on two things: culture and value,” Spilva said.

“We see innovation and staying up to date with technology as everyone’s job. In fact it’s in everyone’s job description. This is enabled by a methodology and culture that is collaborative end-to-end.

“Our development team will always have the most in-depth understanding of new and emerging technology, which is why it’s critical that they have a loud voice in the agency and are part of the discovery and conceptual phase of all projects. Not just the build.”

As part of instilling innovation at the core of the Isobar offering, employees are encouraged to experiment. Isobar creates time for each client team and department to develop proactive client opportunities in emerging technologies or to create products that improve the agency internally.

On the list of major, business-realigning work was Isobar’s mammoth undertaking for Jetstar. Nearly two years in the making, the agency created its biggest customer channel yet and reinvented how Jetstar operates as a business, from booking through to check-in and in-flight. It rebuilt the e-commerce platform, launched 20 websites in nine languages across 14 regions and redeveloped Jetstar’s mobile boarding pass, smartphone app and chatbot prototype. The work led to double-digit revenue growth for the airline and major upticks in satisfaction metrics.

Since inception, Isobar has been focused on customer experience, an area that traditional agencies seem to have caught onto lately. As the competition heats up in the CX space, Spilva is confident his shop can remain at the forefront of the offering.

“Over the years our capability has expanded in line with client and consumer demands. We’ve always had a human-centred design approach to our work, and our offering is continuing to mature into a holistic CX design practice to deliver the greatest value for our clients and their customers,” he said.

“Culture is the key to delivering customer experiences that are both loved and provide value. We’ve always been about delivering the best possible user experience over anything else - including our own ego. ‘Does it work for the customer?’ That’s how we measure success, and it requires us to think holistically and long term.”

Isobar is unwavering on its mission to transform businesses, brands and people’s lives using digital. The agency grew by an impressive 12% last year and is poised for an equally big 2017.

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