Design consultancies change their strategy

Last month we mused on the odd new job titles creeping into design – pathfinders, imagineers and the like. But it is not just the titles that are changing. The type of people coming into the business are different now as consultancies, particularly at the identity and branding end of things, bid to get under the skin of clients.

The likes of Interbrand Newell and Sorrell and Enterprise IG have made a conscious effort to bring in more consultants as they increasingly rival the management consultants. Now FutureBrand is following suit, taking on top-level staff from its main client markets. We’ve come to expect it of these global players. Design is becoming a part of the story for them, but not the whole thing, as creativity increasingly manifests itself as much in strategy as it does in visual language.

Wolff Olins, the only independent at the top end of the corporate identity business, employs a higher proportion of designers than its nearest rivals and has a reputation for great creative work. But it too is pursuing an interesting staffing policy at present, employing e-specialists to boost its prospects in digital media.

It is, however, worth keeping an eye on the smaller groups to see which are quietly doing similar things. And the one to watch at the moment is Springpoint. Known for great work, though seemingly shy about it, the London consultancy surprised the industry recently by bringing in Chris Holt as a consultant.

Many had expected the former British Airways design director to find a new home with Interbrand Newell and Sorrell, creator of the controversial BA identity and a close ally of Holt. But the smart money was with FutureBrand, given the role played at BA for many years by the FutureBrand Davies Baron team.

Both proved to be wrong and Springpoint won over Holt, one of the biggest prizes to be had at present. Now it has brought in communications expert Giles Lury as it builds its business. It’s definitely one to watch.

In-house wins

It’s time, once again to fete the winners of the Design Week Awards. And what a bumper year it’s been, reflecting the recent boom in both workload and creativity.

But there is another message in this year’s result: the growing strength of in-house design, with two product winners from manufacturing and the Best of Show, Wired Worlds, having input from The National Museum of Photography, Film and Television’s in-house team. What welcome additions to the mix of top design talents.

Latest articles