A Steadfast Commitment to Creativity and Culture

  • Categories:


  • Date:

    January 4, 2023

A Steadfast Commitment to Creativity and Culture


The start of a new year is a time to reflect on the past and envision the future. At Wray Ward, we see it as an opportunity to celebrate where we’ve been while asking “what’s next?”

Now, at the beginning of 2023, reflection takes me back nearly 20 years to when Jennifer Appleby, formerly Wray Ward’s president and chief creative officer and now our executive chair, shared with me her vision for Wray Ward, convincing me to sell my agency and join hers. Or back to 2011, when we made the strategic decision to specialize in the home and building category — and how that bold move positioned Wray Ward as an industry leader and a marketing partner that our clients trust to fully understand their businesses and their customers. And, of course, three years ago, when COVID-19 changed our world in an instant and our team at Wray Ward didn’t miss a beat, helping our clients and each other not just survive, but thrive.

These memories may be defined by specific events, but it’s the individuals behind them that resonate most in my mind. And that’s what I love most about Wray Ward — our talented, smart and ambitious people, who perfectly meld compassion for each other with a deep appreciation for the work we accomplish together.

So when asked “what’s next?” I lean into building on two of Wray Ward’s defining characteristics: our creativity and our culture. While each is uniquely important, together they are strengthened by the relationships we grow and are evident in the commitment we make to each other and the work.

“Creativity Is Intelligence Having Fun”

Albert Einstein’s genius extended beyond the theory of relativity to understanding the human psyche. This quote of his captures the essence of how we work at Wray Ward — crafting deeply creative ideas and transforming them into real and measurable results for clients.

While my past responsibilities at Wray Ward have included research, brand strategy, business development and client engagement, creativity has always been the foundation we build on as we help our clients solve complex challenges. Creativity isn’t just a part of Wray Ward’s culture. It’s our North Star — across all of our service areas.

I want our people to always feel empowered to bring big ideas to the table. And I’m committed to ensuring we have the tools to take ideas and solutions from concept to execution.

We’re also smart enough to know when to tap industry experts and thought leaders. In my previous role, I had the great pleasure of building partnerships with organizations such as the Home Improvement Research Institute, The American Institute of Architects and the Research Institute for Cooking & Kitchen Intelligence. These groups have their fingers on the pulse of the home and building categories and share trends and insights that help Wray Ward develop well-informed recommendations for our clients.

Speaking of, we are fortunate to have incredible clients — spanning across North America — who trust Wray Ward and allow us to do great work on behalf of their brands. We reward that trust by leveraging insights and brand strategy work to transform our clients’ business challenges into powerful, creative solutions.

John Roberts, Wray Ward’s chief creative officer, captured it best: “Our business is a lifelong quest for ideas.” And, I believe, when the creativity behind our best ideas is fueled by a team that moves with precision and agility, we create better performing work for our clients. Every single time.

Culture Always WWins

If creativity is the foundation on which we build everything at Wray Ward, I think it’s fair to say our culture is the roof over our heads, keeping us connected and protected. But to really work, a company’s culture must be fiercely protected — something I see as one of my most important responsibilities in leading Wray Ward forward.

Simply put, Wray Ward’s culture is our competitive advantage. You see it embodied in the ways our longest-tenured employees seek out opportunities to mentor and elevate the youngest of our tribe, helping to shape and lift the marketing leaders of tomorrow. Each summer, our FORM internship program opens Wray Ward’s doors to college students across the country, several of whom have become a permanent part of our team after graduation.

We also recognize that complacency can be the unseen killer of a company’s culture. That’s why we continue to evolve ours, recently creating an employee-led diversity and inclusion council called Open House. That same care and concern for one another extends to the greater Charlotte community through Wray Ward’s service-grant program, EmpoWWer. The success of these two initiatives is deeply important to me. Therefore, I’ve asked Jennifer, in her new executive chair role, to continue to support our team as it moves forward with both programs, sharing her powerful talent for inspiring cultural connection.

When the files are wrapped, the websites are launched and the ads are in-market, we also know how to have fun at Wray Ward. I believe a company’s culture is strengthened when we celebrate our wins and connect personally with each other. The work we do as marketers is exciting, dynamic and ever-changing, and our culture will always embody what makes us our best.

What if?

The past several years have helped teach us the art of living in uncertain times, from a pandemic to global supply chain disruptions. Through it all, I’ve marveled at the adaptability our Wray Ward team has mastered to help our clients and our agency continue to grow and succeed.

These experiences have sharpened our vision for the unpredictable so that when we ask “what’s next?” we also ponder “what if?” Our entrepreneurial spirit requires us to pose these questions in all that we do to serve our clients, not just in this moment but into the future. Consider that just a few short years ago, no one had heard of TikTok, yet in 2022, we led one of HIRI’s most-attended webinars on how brands in the home and building categories can use the popular social media platform to engage with their target audiences.

The months and years ahead hold so much possibility — as well as unknowns. In contemplating the future, I am reminded of the attitude and outlook of my friend and predecessor, who has always understood what it means to be fearless.

The future is a blank canvas inspiring us to think bigger, to craft the unimaginable, to deliver better performing work and to celebrate our deep appreciation for one another at every opportunity.

I can’t wait.

Explore more articles from Wray Ward.