This article was originally published onBaton Rouge Business Report
In 2016, the Baton Rouge-based branding agency MESH made a bold move. Tossing out the conventional ad firm practice of organizing staff by departments, the company implemented a team concept that dissolves walls and sparks intense collaboration. Clients are assigned not just a brand manager, but an active team of marketing strategists, designers, writers, social media experts and others, each of whom is at the table from the start. The dissolution of old-school organizational charts is delivering better results for clients and empowering employees to deliver topnotch work, says MESH founder and CEO Taylor Bennett.
“For the client, it feels like having an agency within an agency, because they have access to a talented group focused on their business,” says Bennett. “Everyone on the team has the same goal, and that is to figure out how to move the needle for the client.”
Since Bennett founded the company in 2003, MESH has grown from a two-man operation to a 26-person firm with a robust client list. MESH has work in sectors that include oil and gas, retail, tourism, building products, food and beverage, government and nonprofits, banking and finance, health care, and others. A former engineering major at LSU, Bennett changed course in college when he discovered his passion for the visual arts, earning a bachelor’s degree in graphic design from the Savannah College of Art and Design. He returned to Baton Rouge and, after working for a number of local shops, he started MESH with a couple of computers and a can-do attitude.
After opening his business, Bennett reached out on a whim to advertising trailblazer and founder of Dallas-based Richards Group, Stan Richards. The company is the largest independently owned ad firm in the country and is known for its creative leadership and progressive corporate culture. Richards took an interest in Bennett early on and has been a friend and mentor ever since. “Stan really opened his playbook to us,” says Bennett about MESH’s recent reorganization. “We want to have the kind of culture that values talent and helps clients get the results they’re looking for.”
MESH has earned palpable success over its tenure, with over 290 local, regional and national ADDY awards. Bennett says what’s more important than the awards has been to create a culture with time-tested values. “It’s little things like ‘don’t gossip’ and ‘tell the truth,’ ” says Bennett. “We believe in doing the right thing by each other and by our clients.”
In January, the firm welcomed Chief Operating Officer Hector Gonzalez, an LSU graduate who left a successful advertising career in Baltimore to support MESH’s team-based structure and strategize the firm’s expansion into Gulf Coast markets. The company’s most important objective, says Gonzalez, is to provide our employees with a creative environment to continue to develop marcomm strategies that truly work. “We want to build cohesive plans,” says Gonzalez. “What we like best is to work closely with our clients on creating a really thorough approach that goes beyond just a new logo or website.” When a client comes in, says Gonzalez, the first step is discovery. “We want to know what keeps them up at night,” he says. “We want to really get an honest feel for what the company is about and what the client wants to achieve.” Intense planning comes next, followed by ideation. That’s when the creative team often heads upstairs to an open work space designed to spark idea flow. Implementation of those new ideas comes next. Then comes the final stage. “Measurement,” says Gonzalez. “We have to know if it’s working, because at the end of the day, that’s what matters to our clients.”