Profile: Someone

Next week sees the launch of London design consultancy Someone’s new visual identity for international train operator Eurostar. Lynda Relph-Knight talks to the team behind this and other big-name brands about its strategic approach

You may have boggled at the design credit ’Someone did the branding and All of Us handled the website’. Such is the way with consultancy names. But the team behind the seemingly self-effacing Someone is one of the most creative to be had in an area of design that too often fosters mediocrity.

Someone’s appeal is manifest in a burgeoning client list ranging from big business to entrepreneurial concerns. Set up five years ago by designers David Law, Simon Manchipp – staunch advocate of the notion that ’the logo is dead’ – and Gary Holt, it already boasts a portfolio including pictograms for the 2012 London Olympics and clients including Proctor & Gamble, Mick Jagger, Philippe Starck’s Yoo luxury interiors and residential brand and diamond company Dimexon, as well as country hotels such as Heckfield Place in Hampshire.

But 2011 promises to be Someone’s year. Next week sees the launch of a comprehensive rebranding of Eurostar, with branding for online betting concern Betfair and the National Maritime Museum to follow.

While Someone is relatively ’young’, its partners are old hands in design. Law and Manchipp met at Central St Martins College of Art and Design, before setting out on careers, respectively, with Thomas Manss and Coley Porter Bell, and Identica and ad agency HHCL. They then came together as No-one, a design team within HHCL, until the parent agency ’debunked’.

Holt, meanwhile, worked with Martin Lambie-Nairn for clients such as telecoms group 02. He and Manchipp met in 2005 as Design Week Awards judges and he shared space with No-one when he went solo. A merger to form Someone was ’a natural development’, he says.

What characterises Someone is its approach. The trio bring together pure design, branding and advertising and says the networks they have built help to cross-fertilise the work. ’The more you give a brand the better,’ says Law, outlining the consultancy’s mindset when entering any project.

We’re in the business of managing other people’s reputations, so we’re acutely aware of our own

’Someone is in the business of “managing change”,’ says Holt. This starts with engaging stakeholders and establishing a tone of voice ’before you pick up a pencil’, he says. Every proposal includes a ’migration process’ to embed the branding and a stakeholder presentation. It’s about ’immersion, involvement and inclusion’.

Manchipp adds, ’The old way of doing branding was broadcast, now it’s conversation. We’re chatty and we expect the brand to be quite chatty at the end.’

The aim, says Manchipp, is to do great work, to have some fun and to make money to ensure it can do the first two. Though clients often applaud Someone’s ’strategic approach’, the partners maintain it doesn’t have one, but responds to each project as it comes. They talk of the ’quality of the relationship’ among themselves, with the team and various collaborators – and with their clients.

’Our new business machine involves picking up a phone [to take an incoming call],’ says Manchipp. This was the case with Eurostar and the Maritime Museum, for example. ’We’re in the business of managing other people’s reputations, so we’re acutely aware of our own,’ he explains.

Quality runs not just through the work, but also in the way it is handled. There are always two partners on each project, though one invariably takes a lead, and ideas come from anywhere within the consultancy – which varies from 15-20 people depending on workload.

Someone is known for collaborating with other creative groups such as All of Us and Fray. It is, though, diversifying and has made its first foray into digital design with Someone Else – an interactive offshoot, run by former LBI director Warren Hutchinson. ’The word of the moment is transmedia,’ says Manchipp, stressing that creative director Hutchinson ’is not a website builder’. ’It’s big-brand thinking’ – or ’plussing’, as he and his partners describe their holistic approach to branding.

If, as Manchipp contends, the ’brand world’ is replacing the logo, Someone is up to the challenge. ’We come along with a series of opinions that flavour the agenda,’ Law concludes. It is no longer about prescriptive design.

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