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A major Continental drinks client says that forming relationships with independent, creatively-led consultancies is more important than the benefits of working with a group claiming global reach. What is your opinion of this view and why?

‘Virgin Atlantic’s approach has been to work with smaller, creative consultancies around the world rather than a single global group. We quite often work with start-up groups because their hunger, attitude and chutzpah matches the brand so well. By providing a brand framework in which they can work, rather than replicating creative work across different countries, we find smaller, local groups add huge value to the brand because they’ve got their finger on the pulse of what’s happening and can grab those ad hoc, tactical opportunities.’

Ginnie Leatham, Head of brand, Virgin Atlantic Airways

‘It’s a question of balance. It is important to use a central design group to help define the core principles of the brand worldwide and then select consultancies on local merit to express some particular aspects. If a client is looking to launch an international brand, a group with “international reach” may be better equipped to pick up cultural diversities and factor that in from the word go. But don’t assume this is always a case. Clients are becoming increasingly cynical towards the utopia of a fully functional well-oiled network and are more concerned with hard evidence on the benefits that a particular network will bring.’

Sean Lewis, Head of worldwide brand strategy and development, Orange

‘For our rebranding we made the decision to go with independently-owned US group Sterling. We’ve worked with it successfully in the past and it has a good understanding of the company and the UK market (many of its designers hail from the UK), while also bringing the fresh approach that we were looking for. Basically, I believe that global reach is irrelevant; it’s all about working with experts who understand the consumer and can translate that insight into stunning design.’

Kevin Styles, Sales and marketing director, Thresher Group

‘If you champion creativity above all else, then there is always going to be a concern that a large worldwide group may not be able to maintain creative excellence. With some of our roster consultancies, we have found it possible to have great creative leadership also backed up with global insight. As ever, it’s a question of what works best in individual circumstances.’

Neil Pedliham, Design manager, Superdrug

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