BBH loves a mantra. We’ve got quite a few and you hear them often in conversation around the agency, writes Head of Effectiveness, Tom Roach.

Mantras are part of our culture but beyond that, they play a role in helping us articulate and share our beliefs with our people and clients. Our founders, like some of the big names before them (Ogilvy, Bernbach, Burnett) have always had an instinctive belief in the power of a simple, memorable, repeatable phrase as a management tool. And it’s proved as useful a tool for the management of their own brand as it has for their clients’. Some of these phrases go right back to BBH’s launch in 1982, such as belief no.1 of our 10 founding beliefs:

Our business summarised:

A key role we play for brands:

Some of our mantras provide BBHers with founders’ advice by proxy: if you ever find yourself asking ‘what would Nigel do?’ there’s probably a saying that can help.

A type of creative work that repeatedly proves itself to be hugely effective:

The eternal marketing challenge of balancing freshness and familiarity, cut through and consistency:

A reminder of the importance of execution, craft and production values:

But the most significant BBH mantra of all, told to every new client and BBHer on day one, is ‘When the world zigs, zag’ – a line from our first ad for our founding client Levi’s that was only later adopted by the BBH brand. It takes pride of place in our reception area and has spawned its own spin-off mantra: Where’s the zag?’, a question on our creative brief and something you hear in creative reviews all the time. All brands have a central idea at their core, and ‘the zag’ is the central idea behind the BBH brand: the idea of difference.

Mantras can help a business distil its unchanging beliefs and values in a highly memorable and shareable way. Ours help us explain our history, help solve client business problems and will help BBH guide its business and people for years to come: