Sam Sampson: larger than life and a true innovator

I worked with the late Sam Sampson, first as his client and then as his business partner. In all, we worked closely together for more than 20 years. We made Sampson Tyrrell into one of the leading UK design consultancies and then, in the 1990s, we created and implemented the plan that built Enterprise IG, now The Brand Union.

We were the first to spot the opportunity that the globalisation of business and their brands afforded the design industry. Our idea was a simple one. Up until the 1990s all global design originated from within a country – Landor led in the US and Wolff Olins in the UK. For companies that were in the process of globalising their brand there was no operation with a truly global mindset that could be combined with a deep knowledge of local markets. So that is what we set out to build, with the support of WPP. We started in 1992 by bringing together five operating units already in WPP. We then made several acquisitions, and by the end of the decade had 23 offices in 19 countries. Our template was copied by all the major communications groups as they followed our lead to create global design networks.

We were one of the first to call ourselves a branding consultancy and the first to promote the idea that brand-building starts internally with the employees, to much consternation within the industry and among clients. Today, it is the norm.

Therefore I think Sam’s contribution to the design industry was enormous. We brought designers from hugely different cultures and backgrounds to work together on global projects.

On a more personal level, Sam was a larger than life character. He always had a positive mindset. Nothing was impossible. He was tough, demanding and a total perfectionist. He was supportive and had a very good business brain.He had great drive. Uncompromising.

Dave Allen, Co-founder, Brand Pie, by e-mail

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