The Power of Living Brands

Trout Creative Thinking, Australia’s only creative agency specialising in homemaker, build and construction shares the value of brand-building.

When asking industry professionals what they would save from a burning building to keep their business afloat, it is rare that anyone answers, “our brand.” Yet without it, many would struggle to do business, especially in the design and build sectors where trust and collaboration is key.

Trout Creative Thinking has been partnering with companies to invest in consistent, cohesive brand-building for over a quarter of a century. Founded in 1993 by friends Carlo Tarquinio and Gavin Pitcher, the agency set out to help businesses articulate themselves to potential customers through strategic branding and creative communications.

The duo quickly discovered that clients benefitted from the clarity of focus that their work instilled. Happier people, more engaging communications and buoyant bottom lines were the results.

Fast-forward 29 years and Trout is a 60-person strong powerhouse that specialises in building ‘living brands’—brands that appeal to tradespeople, builders, specifiers, architects, designers and homemakers, and deliver experiences that enable them to get more out of the environments they work or live within. Carlo and Gavin are both still actively involved in the day to day running of the business, and Carlo holds the position of Chief Innovation Officer at Reece Group.

The agency’s hands-on approach has its foundations in an inside-out method that gets under the skin of a business’s motivations to understand the true purpose, vision and values that make it unique. 

Using this, Trout’s experienced team of strategists and creatives develops the core blueprint for the brand. The next step is to engage its in-house marketers, copywriters, motionographers, digital designers, PR and media professionals to bring everything to life across touchpoints that drive real, tangible impact.

“Today’s best business leaders understand the importance of brand and are investing in it,” explains Trout’s General Manager, Lachie McKernan.

“Beyond logos and colours, branding is about unearthing the core DNA of a business. How the brand is expressed should always be connected to this DNA, so that a shared belief around the company’s purpose, values and vision drives how the company acts and communicates, every day.”

Trout is committed to impactful work that delivers to its clients’ goals and overall business health. Often, this means a holistic approach to brand, marketing and communications that delivers more than the sum of its parts.

“Because we work exclusively in the home and build space, we understand the relationship between trades, specifiers and the home customer,” adds McKernan.

“This gives our clients a head-start. We tend to target all stakeholders in the build or renovation process because we know that sales get lost when a builder doesn’t recognise a client’s brand as quality, or a homeowner isn’t familiar with a recommendation made by a contractor.”

This approach has led to longstanding relationships with iconic businesses who are eager to stay ahead. Clients include Scandinavian appliances brand ASKO and Italian luxury coffee machinery manufacturer La Marzocco Home, who engage Trout to help them translate global brand principles into local activity that resonates with Australians.

 Homegrown partners include Beacon Lighting, Minijumbuk wool bedding and FnB Collective hospitality group, who work with property developers to bring enticing venues to new mixed-purpose sites.

The most prominent jewel in Trout Creative Thinking’s crown is its 25-year relationship with Reece, the home of Reece Bathrooms and Reece Plumbing, which has become synonymous with trust and quality over its hundred-year lifetime.

Trout’s Creative Director Anthony Bologna concepted the first design-centric Reece Bathrooms showroom in 2000 as a physical manifestation of the brand’s promise, ‘bathroom happiness.’ This promise is still alive today, brought to life most recently through the digital bathroom visualisation tool Imagin3D, which helps designers and renovators bring their bathroom ideas to life before committing to product orders. 

In 2017, Reece saw the value in securing Trout’s input into future innovations and cemented the partnership by acquiring the agency. It’s a relationship that is unconventionally close, but not so close as to quash Trout’s external viewpoint or restrict its creative spirit.

“While the Reece relationship is unusual, we commit to working in our clients’ businesses, instead of on them,” says Camey O’Keefe, Head of Brand Partnership.

“It’s an important distinction to make as it means our specialists are naturally exposed to more opportunities to drive impact than the traditional client-agency model.”

Trout Creative Thinking is hosting two panels at Design Show Australia 2022. Hear from the agency’s Strategy Lead, Clare Acheson at 11am, Thursday on the Design Talks stage, and 3.15pm, Friday on the Bathrooms & Kitchens stage.