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50 Innovative Companies to Watch 2021

‘We Create, Refresh, and Invigorate Brands’: Nathan Reddy, Founder and CCO of Grid Worldwide

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“We believe that original, conceptual, and inspiring ideas, which are well executed and relevant, will always create value.”

GRID Worldwide is South Africa’s most awarded studio, creating and rebranding some of the most iconic brands around the world.

GRID is based in Johannesburg, South Africa.

To highlight and further understand what GRID Worldwide stands for and seeks to explore in this segment, I sat down with Nathan Reddy (founder), who serves as the company’s Chief Creative Officer.

Below is an excerpt.

Q. TSR: When it comes to emotional branding, Grid Worldwide sounds highly promising. As a journalist, I find it quite striking. My question to you is, how did you come up with the brand name, and what does it depict?

GRID: The building of anything first needs a solid grid, to begin with. It’s that simple. We strongly believe brands need solid foundations to be successful. Hence, our name Grid.

 Adding the 'Worldwide’ is our aspiration to have an international company out of South Africa, connecting our approach and philosophy to a global audience that we have successfully begun to implement in the last 10 years.

Q. TSR: ‘We create meaning for brands so that all outcomes are aligned to a single brand purpose.’ Splendid. Would you like to elaborate on this a bit more?

GRID: Brand building in the 21st century is all about collective consistency across platforms and mediums. We don’t separate disciplines when creating for this new world; therefore, strategy, design, comms, digital, and copywriting must be seen as one; the consumer does not put things in boxes.

Our white space in this marketplace is we are a design lead agency, where craft and storytelling still play a vital role in all laddering up to an organization's higher purpose.

Q. TSR: What can you tell us about ‘Investment Creative’?

GRID: “Investment by Creative” is our operating system. It’s our index for which we determine real value, meaning, growth, and delivery to clients.

“Investment Creative” is the ability to create a set of distinctive assets and make sure it’s fit for purpose across various mediums and platforms. Add technology and the ability to scale and automate to this. That’s what makes us unique.

We then have the ability to pour new content into these templates across various mediums and platforms.

In other words, we create meaning for brands so that all outcomes are aligned to a single brand purpose. This consistency of meaning across all mediums creates value over time. That’s what we call “Investment Creative".

Q. TSR: How can brands achieve a more purposeful future?

GRID: Find your true purpose and meaning. Seek to find that more than anything else. Then focus on defining the value the business offers. At Grid, it’s our primary focus to help how we enhance the value our clients’ businesses provide. If clients stay true to this simple principle, the brand/business will certainly remain relevant and serve a clear purpose well into the future.

Q. TSR: What strategies are in place to encourage innovation in your company?

GRID: Innovation from Grid isn’t about new tricksy things; it’s about looking at the world and opportunities differently.

We have been innovating across all aspects of our business, including new commercial models with clients. The age of billing per hour is no longer a viable option for clients. They seek diversity, dynamism, and perspective in their creative partners.

We have also introduced hybrid commercial models for clients that can be equity-based coupled with hours to deliver parts of the value chain and then a value-based model specific to development and IP.

This approach means we have a vested interest in our clients’ businesses; “skin in the game.”

In relation to the creative product, our focus on innovation is to scale ideas with immediacy, leveraging tech, new tools, and skills to deliver an idea across multiple platforms and channels, ensuring brand consistency and impact.

Our clients then get the benefit of work that is culturally relevant and scalable across platforms. An idea needs to come alive, not just in one medium.

We ask ourselves how quickly this idea can reach as many people as possible without costing an arm and a leg. That’s innovation.

Q. TSR: Will Grid Worldwide be expanding, bringing on any new services that we should be aware of?

GRID: We are the “make it mean something” company; everything revolves around this. This reflects our organizational culture.

Our purpose becomes our intent. Our growth over the last two years has been almost exponential in that we shifted our strategic focus on vertical growth as opposed to horizontal growth. By this, we shifted from being a services-orientated company to a product-focused business, deep-diving into new products and experiences.

Q. TSR: What plans for transformation are you pursuing to remain relevant now and in the future?

GRID: For the last three years, Grid has been on an evolution of its business model. Transformation is a big part of this evolution.

Transformation transcends across so many facets of the business, not just race and gender equality but also retooling and acquiring new skillsets.

Picking the right talent has always been paramount to this. Growing our offering encompassing all aspects of communications has been a major focus for us as a leadership team. Our business now remains in beta, meaning we evolve (and refine) our model every day.

If we don’t remain relevant, we become redundant.

Nathan Reddy, Founder & Chairman

Over a period of 25years, Nathan has risen to be one of South Africa’s most prominent creative forces. His mantra is ‘make it mean something.’

He studied Design at M.L. Sultan College of Design. His first job was at FCB, where he stayed for three years, followed by the head of design at TBWA Hunt Lascaris for two years before starting the first DDB in South Africa with Louis Gavin.

After a few years at DDB, Nathan and Louis Gavin started their agency called TBWA Gavin Reddy. TBWA Gavin Reddy went on to be one of the most creative agencies in South Africa.

In 2006, Nathan started his shop called GRID Worldwide, where he remains today as Chief Creative Officer.

In 2016, the South African industry honored Nathan with a lifetime achievement award, the youngest person to receive such an award. In his acceptance speech, he said he was just starting.

“The world does not need another brand; what it needs are brands that make it mean something.”

“We create meaning for brands so that all outcomes are aligned to a single brand purpose. This consistency of meaning across all mediums creates value over time. That’s what we call “Investment Creative”.