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How This Brand Director Is the Link Between an Agency and Its Clients
Marketing & PR
Los Angeles, USA
Pat Dunneback, group brand director at Battery, on the importance of the entire agency team for success, the right time to steer clear of the creative process, and a constant aspiration to go great work

Pat Dunneback joined Battery in February as part of the agency's expansion into Chicago. As group brand director, Pat is the connector between Battery's LA team and Midwest client base. A veteran of agency environments both big and small, Pat  previously served as account director at Leo Burnett, The Abundancy, and most recently at Camp & King. 

We caught up with him to find out what the daily life of an agency brand director entails. 

LBB> Can you describe your professional journey? How did you find your way to brand management/direction? 

Pat> After attending University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and receiving my Masters in communication studies from Northwestern University, I dove into the Chicago advertising community headfirst. I held multiple positions before becoming an account director, first at Leo Burnett then at The Abundancy and Camp & King. I’ve been fortunate in my career to work with some truly wonderful, passionate individuals, and got the sense that that’s what I’d be coming into with Battery, where I now head the Chicago office as group brand director.

LBB> How would you describe your responsibilities in a few words?

Pat> As group brand director, I work to ensure that the relationship between our agency and the clients we support is a partnership. This includes working to understand and support the priorities of our clients’ businesses, ensuring those priorities are translated into actionable briefs for our creative teams, and fostering collaboration across marketing disciplines and agency partners to drive measurable results.

LBB> What are the most important tools in your arsenal as a brand director?

Pat> It is the team. The collection of talented, passionate individuals who show up each day ready to collaborate, push each other, and strive toward doing something better than it was done before. Each discipline within our agency serves a discrete function in that dynamic, and my job is to help all of them bring their best selves to the table each day.

LBB> What is your approach when working with a new client? 

Pat> Any client that chooses to work with an agency has something of value to offer a customer or consumer, and needs our help to make that offering clear and compelling. It all starts with understanding how a new client brings value to the world, which can go above and beyond the tangible widget or service.

LBB> There’s the client’s desired business objectives on one end, and the agency’s creative execution to obtain those goals on the other end. How tricky is it for you to balance both perspectives?

Pat> I can’t help but smile at this question - there’s so much that goes into an answer! Ultimately, creativity is a subjective experience. The way a creative team member perceives an idea in the development process will be different than how a client perceives it in a review process, which will be different from how a consumer perceives it out in the world.  

It is imperative that we work with clients to ensure we craft a clear and inspirational brief for creative teams. It’s the responsibility of the creative team to craft ideas that connect those objectives to the audience in a compelling way. In the long run, there are moments when those ideas are perfectly clear, and other moments where trust and bravery come into play.

LBB> Which relationships are most important to maintain in order to keep things running as smoothly as possible? 

Pat> All of them. Any team member or client that comes to the table in good faith and with a collaborative spirit is integral to the process and brings individual value that will support collective success. Anyone that doesn’t come to the table with that mentality will not be there very long.

LBB> How involved are you with Battery’s creative process, when preparing for a pitch for example?

Pat> I am as involved as the creative team needs me to be. There may be times when the brief is a difficult unlock, and my role is to help dissect the issue through iterative collaboration. At other times, the ask is clear and the team needs space and time to do their work - and my job is to stay away from them!

LBB> How exactly do you work in tandem with Battery’s strategists in LA? 

Pat> There’s that old saying that a problem well-defined is half solved, and my strategy partners are the key players in defining the problems to be solved by our creative teams.  Similar to how creative teams need time to work through solutions to a problem, a strategy team needs time to dissect and articulate it in the initial brief. My job is to be a constant point of contact between that internal agency process and a client team, and navigate the give and take as we work through the process together.

LBB> What metrics do you use to measure success when working with a client? 

Pat> Ultimately, we align to how a client measures success in their own business. Many times, that can be as straightforward as sales growth. However, just as often, the factors that contribute to that goal can be layered and many. A client might have devised the greatest widget their category has ever seen, but people don’t love their brand and we need to solve for that. Other times, the value a client is bringing to consumers is unclear, and we need to solve for that. Our job is to be a locksmith, and unlock the connection between brand and consumer.

LBB> In your experience what are some of the key differences between working at a small agency versus a larger one?

Pat> I’ve had wonderful experiences in both environments, and they each bring their own set of pros and cons. When it comes to an agency like Battery, I enjoy the opportunity to more clearly see the tangible impact of my effort in the performance of the agency. For some folks, that exposure to success and failure might make a place like Battery the wrong fit. Luckily, each person who works here embraces it fully and is a critical piece of what makes us who we are.

LBB> Any advice for those considering work within the agency world?  

Pat> Over the past couple of years, I’ve developed an even greater appreciation for supporting and embracing balance in the areas that bring energy to a person’s existence. This has been referred to as work-life balance forever. I’m not sure what to call it now. Those who work in an agency love finding interesting solutions to problems and making things. That passion and desire can be stoked in many ways, and it’s important to find the things that give energy to that passion so that we can bring our best selves to what we do each day.

LBB> Can you point to any successes or accomplishments since you’ve joined Battery?  

Pat> I’ve been glad to have developed such positive relationships with my teammates in this short time that we’ve had together. I absolutely feel like anyone on my team has my back each day, and believe they know they can trust me to have theirs. Having that trust makes anything possible.

LBB> Is there something you’re working on now that you’d like to share?

Pat> For any client or project I’m working on, it’s always my aspiration to do something great with them. I don’t know that I have anything specific to share on this front right now, but I do know that I am constantly eager to accomplish something that we can be proud of.

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