It is perhaps a little unfair to start by evoking a design project that emerged in a flurry of controversy, but last summer's furore over the London 2012 Olympics logo clearly demonstrates the power of design.
Significantly, it illustrates the passion for and involvement with a piece of graphic communication people can feel, and shows that an emotional connection lies at the heart of design's power to influence. The level of both criticism and defence that the Wolff Olins-designed motif drew shows that people instinctively relate, one way or another, to the creative ideas it presents, despite it being 'only a logo'.
Consumer reaction to design can have a profound influence on the fortunes of the business behind the product, even if designers have often found the extent hard to quantify. This is one of the major challenges facing the industry.
The response to the 2012 logo also highlights a problem that has long beset the branding industry in particular - the emphasis placed on a logo or corporate identity, to the virtual exclusion of any other work the design agency may have carried out for a client. However, whatever the design discipline - retail, product or packaging - the most successful executions are much more deeply rooted in the brand's values.
Focusing on the physical manifestation of design work can sometimes belittle this depth, leading to it becoming a commodity purchase, which is another obstacle for design agencies to overcome. 'The value of design and design thinking tends to get lost or overshadowed when people view it as a commodity, which is something that even some within the industry do,' says Jim Northover, chairman of branding and design consultancy Lloyd Northover, whose clients include Lexus and Royal Mail.
The 2012 logo also demonstrates the relative longevity of designs, in this case it will be used for at least five years. Although design may provide some of the materials used for marketing, it seldom forms a campaign in itself; typically, then, design lasts much longer than ads or direct creative.
The importance of good, well-managed design over the longer-term is therefore high, yet many agency-client relationships continue to be short-term. Conversely, advertising accounts often remain in the same agency for years.
The design industry is also different from other marketing services in its culture and structure. To many, its micro-business set-up is that of a cottage industry, populated by independently-minded 'creatives' whose lifestyle proclivities and ambitions often eschew huge growth or empire-building. There has been nowhere near the levels of agency consolidation experienced in advertising and, according to Design Council research, about 60% of UK design agencies employ five people or fewer.
'It is an industry that has traditionally focused on excellence of product, rather than profits,' says Tony Walford, a senior consultant at Results International, a consulting and finance business specialising in the marketing industry. 'There are many small agencies run by designers who are passionate about their product, rather than the commercial aspects.' While ad agencies do not necessarily place profits above creative quality, it seems that design shops often find it more of a struggle to balance the two.
As the importance of design continues to grow, there seems to be one cardinal challenge; it must communicate and demonstrate the real depth of value it brings to business. To do this, it must strike up long-term relationships at boardroom level, breaking free from project-based, commodity-bought work and forging deeper partnerships with clients. As Scottish & Newcastle chief executive John Dunsmore notes, continually running with project-based work means that design agencies 'have to roll sixes every year' to survive.
'Design is the least profitable of all the marketing services sectors, because we are treated as a talent commodity,' says Andrew Knowles, chief executive of Jones Knowles Ritchie.
Doug James, a partner at multi-disciplinary agency Honey, which works with Tesco and Harrods, echoes this. 'These big clients usually see you as a service provider with a specialist skill-set, so we have to demonstrate the business effectiveness of our services and show that we understand the commercial requirements of a company. They must start to realise that we can think for them to some extent,' he says.
The next step is to charge accordingly. 'Consultancies don't bill appropriately in terms of the impact their work has on a business. However, this impact does have to be demonstrated,' says Interbrand chief executive Rune Gustafson.
According to Paul Castledine, chief creative officer of consultancy Boxer, once a business impact is demonstrated, agencies have a tangible selling point. 'Design must be driven by insight and should be measured in terms of its effectiveness. In essence, we are talking about turning an intangible sell into a tangible benefit,' he says.
Some clients are already asking for proof of design's effectiveness. 'We have seen big changes in clients' demands. They want their design to demonstrate real effectiveness and request a clear way to demonstrate the value and impact design has had on their brand,' says The Brand Union managing director Simon Bailey, whose clients include Vodafone and SABMiller.
For agencies able to do this, profits await. 'Clients are asking tougher questions from their design groups during the pitch process, but are willing to pay for it,' says Jonathan Ford, creative partner at branding and packaging design agency Pearlfisher. 'They are starting to realise they can get a good return on design investment and are making sure they get it right, so it can be a long-term investment.'
Long-term, partnership-style relationships between client and consultancy are also becoming more important. Since its inception, seven years ago, UK financial-protection firm Bright Grey has worked with design group Navyblue.
'They are very much a partner in our business,' explains Susan Sneddon, communications director at Bright Grey. 'We share the same level of information with them as we would our own marketing team, which allows them to be a true extension of that team. We have the view that we will get more value from our external suppliers if we invest time and money in developing a relationship with them.'
High levels of consolidation in big business, and a lack in the design sector, means that more agencies are chasing fewer clients. In the current climate, then, long-term partnerships are even more important.
'Over the past year we have been working a lot more with ad agencies. I think this is partly because clients are looking for longer-term relationships with their designers,' says Barry Seal, managing director of strategic branding agency Anthem Worldwide. 'Ideally, designers have stopped being suppliers and are starting to become partners with a business. It is about having a real relationship with your clients, not just a supplier relationship. I can't stress this enough.'
Knowles agrees. 'If clients give us more lock-in at the senior level we will work with them to deliver effective design,' he says. 'But it is the project nature of the industry that terrifies agencies, because if the client doesn't like your face or something in your portfolio, or they have a friend they used to work worth, you're out.'
For all the challenges in proving effectiveness, however, as well as winning boardroom buy-in and improving agency margins, the picture for design agencies is not bleak. There's little doubt that the strategic - and financial - value of design is being recognised at a higher level among businesses. It is a process that has been helped by the Design Business Association's Design Effectiveness Awards and the Design Council's Designing Demand programme.
'I don't sense there's any boardroom doubt about the value of good design,' adds Knowles. 'The uncertainty is more about how they acquire it and manage it. There are therefore huge opportunities for design consultancies to show how design can be of benefit to the business.'
As the economy wobbles, design agencies will have to compete even harder to prove their strategic value to business. As Walford notes, design can be one of the first marketing services to be cut in a tight economic climate and the last to be reinstated when things pick up. Indeed, network-owned branding giants Interbrand (Omnicom) and The Brand Union (WPP) have both cited 'uncertainty' as a reason for senior redundancies this year.
Nonetheless, where agencies demonstrate their strategic understanding of consumer behaviour, along with the power of design to influence that behaviour, corporate chiefs are more likely to keep them in the fold. This is true not only of branding consultancies, but also of product, digital, retail and packaging design disciplines.
Another trend set to change fundamentally the way design agencies work is what Seymourpowell director Richard Seymour describes as a 'paroxysmal change' in the relationship between products, communications and marketing, as a result of the transition from 'push media' - where the marketing activity pushes messages about products and services toward consumers - to a web 2.0-style of communication where consumers are sharing, re-appropriating and commenting on promotional messages at unprecedented levels, because it is so easy to do so.
Seymour says things are changing so rapidly, that most parties, including design agencies, are finding it a challenge to work out what exactly is going on. 'It is like going back to the Middle Ages. If the blacksmith in the village is rubbish, everybody knows about it,' says Seymour.
'If you promise something great and the product isn't up to it, there will be an onslaught. So, we are starting to see a re-emancipation of the object or the product as the truth. In this new order you see a fresh way of communication developing. If you say something in the old way - "we think this" - then there is a massive negative reaction. This is a huge relief; it is honest trading again. We can't just take some stuff and advertise the pants off it.'
If this is the case, it affects not just design, but the way consumers receive all products, services and marketing communications. 'It is a fantastic time to be in the creative industries because we are witnessing a new dawn,' Seymour adds. 'And it's not about the technology, it's about the emergent behaviour that arises from the tools we now have.'
The power of good design is clear and is vital for successful brands and products. Through building strong relationships with clients and ensuring they can prove their financial worth to business, design agencies should be well-placed to flourish, despite an uncertain economic climate.
TOP DESIGN AGENCIES: 1-53
Rank Agency Fee income Fee income %
'08 '07 2007 (pounds) 2006 (pounds) chng
1 1 Imagination 30,030,000 31,248,000 -4
2 4 Loewy 21,124,000 7,932,000 166
n/a The Brand Union* n/a 13,865,196 n/a
3 2 Checkland Kindleysides 11,092,000 9,320,000 19
n/a Interbrand* n/a 10,283,000 n/a
n/a Jack Morton WW* n/a 10,095,000 n/a
4 3 Radley Yeldar 9,800,000 8,800,000 11
5 6 Design Bridge 9,215,000 7,784,000 18
6 8 Blue Marlin Brand Design 9,200,000 7,561,000 22
7 5 Jones Knowles Ritchie 7,909,000 7,926,000 0
n/a FutureBrand* n/a 7,463,000 n/a
8 7 Start Creative 7,096,023 4,441,155 60
9 10 Elmwood 6,200,000 5,200,000 19
10 11 Rufus Leonard 5,805,000 5,012,000 15
11 12 Vibrandt Distillery 5,444,211 4,967,111 10
12 20 Dalziel & Pow Design 5,387,474 3,840,078 40
13 n/a Sheridan & Co 5,148,000 4,484,000 15
14 n/a Lloyd Northover 4,643,520 2,049,600 127
15 19 Dragon 4,642,000 3,853,000 20
16 17 Springetts 4,609,211 3,914,582 18
17 n/a Linney Design 4,287,985 3,856,150 11
n/a Coley Porter Bell* n/a 4,087,546 n/a
18 n/a Tynan d'Arcy 3,680,000 3,520,000 5
19 23 Wardour 3,669,163 3,165,900 16
n/a Lambie-Nairn* n/a 3,656,931 n/a
20 37 Boxer 3,603,000 2,306,000 56
21 n/a Redhouse Lane 3,564,615 3,449,062 3
22 n/a Navyblue n/a 3,467,508 n/a
23 n/a LFH 3,449,000 3,353,896 3
24 26 Live & Breathe 3,161,960 2,979,899 6
25 24 Pearlfisher 3,058,000 3,224,000 -5
26 n/a P & W Design 2,900,000 2,080,000 39
27 25 Oakwood 2,811,420 2,494,693 13
28 30 Stocks Taylor Benson 2,620,000 2,645,000 -1
29 38 Turquoise Brand 2,611,249 2,182,000 20
30 28 BR&Me 2,501,500 2,894,600 -14
31 33 Parker Williams Design 2,200,000 2,600,000 -15
32 n/a Precedent 2,189,910 2,273,823 -4
33 n/a Lewis Moberly 2,164,742 1,946,750 11
34 n/a JHP 2,024,000 1,560,000 30
35 n/a Creative Lynx 1,856,000 1,454,000 28
36 47 Chaos Design 1,646,702 1,474,554 12
37 46 LMC Design 1,564,390 1,511,925 3
38 n/a Brandopus 1,489,565 n/a n/a
39 n/a Storm Brand Design 1,438,524 1,606,171 -10
40 56 Dew Gibbons 1,361,254 942,000 45
41 49 Wyatt International 1,152,950 1,140,750 1
42 n/a Reach 970,059 860,592 13
43 51 Ziggurat Brand Consultants 945,449 991,100 -5
44 52 WPA Pinfold 944,795 799,918 18
45 54 Robson Dowry Associates 937,000 869,000 8
46 n/a Underscore 918,792 593,177 55
47 58 Pierrot 908,441 795,521 14
48 57 Independent Marketing 840,000 842,000 0
49 60 hey Moscow 815,419 778,577 5
50 n/a Arthaus 814,801 610,753 33
51 n/a Honey 704,054 113,036 523
52 n/a The Foundry Communications 537,622 673,945 -20
53 n/a The Liquid Way 502,436 385,764 30
Rank Agency Turnover Turnover %
'08 '07 2007 (pounds) 2006 (pounds) chng
1 1 Imagination 95,921,000 103,096,000 -7
2 4 Loewy 37,472,000 17,985,000 108
n/a The Brand Union* n/a 17,573,913 n/a
3 2 Checkland Kindleysides 15,741,403 14,000,000 12
n/a Interbrand* n/a 11,698,000 n/a
n/a Jack Morton WW* n/a 36,844,000 n/a
4 3 Radley Yeldar 14,100,000 13,200,000 7
5 6 Design Bridge 12,250,000 10,870,000 13
6 8 Blue Marlin Brand Design 10,758,000 8,489,000 27
7 5 Jones Knowles Ritchie 8,250,000 8,614,000 -4
n/a FutureBrand* n/a 9,441,000 n/a
8 7 Start Creative 8,792,895 5,334,512 65
9 10 Elmwood 7,200,000 6,100,000 18
10 11 Rufus Leonard 6,966,954 6,016,042 16
11 12 Vibrandt Distillery 6,076,476 6,160,927 -1
12 20 Dalziel & Pow Design 5,796,565 4,266,940 36
13 n/a Sheridan & Co 10,311,000 8,311,000 24
14 n/a Lloyd Northover 6,323,000 3,051,000 107
15 19 Dragon 5,593,000 4,741,000 18
16 17 Springetts 4,924,423 4,321,751 14
17 n/a Linney Design 7,441,351 7,495,997 -1
n/a Coley Porter Bell* n/a 5,139,072 n/a
18 n/a Tynan d'Arcy 4,440,000 4,220,000 5
19 23 Wardour 4,892,217 4,221,290 16
n/a Lambie-Nairn* n/a 4,923,560 n/a
20 37 Boxer 4,725,000 3,530,000 34
21 n/a Redhouse Lane 4,765,601 4,651,042 2
22 n/a Navyblue n/a 7,195,207 n/a
23 n/a LFH 3,920,000 3,685,600 6
24 26 Live & Breathe 8,624,518 8,070,521 7
25 24 Pearlfisher 4,237,000 4,275,000 -1
26 n/a P & W Design 3,441,577 2,307,185 49
27 25 Oakwood 3,514,078 2,661,904 32
28 30 Stocks Taylor Benson 2,939,528 3,476,000 -15
29 38 Turquoise Brand 3,887,658 3,373,000 15
30 28 BR&Me 2,795,000 3,177,500 -12
31 33 Parker Williams Design 2,400,000 3,000,000 -20
32 n/a Precedent 2,576,365 2,675,086 -4
33 n/a Lewis Moberly 3,020,016 2,590,655 17
34 n/a JHP 2,250,000 1,700,000 32
35 n/a Creative Lynx 3,423,000 3,284,000 4
36 47 Chaos Design 2,114,554 1,843,193 15
37 46 LMC Design 2,158,000 2,155,000 0
38 n/a Brandopus 1,797,594 n/a n/a
39 n/a Storm Brand Design 1,478,701 1,680,845 -12
40 56 Dew Gibbons 1,519,113 1,066,000 43
41 49 Wyatt International 4,776,064 4,759,548 0
42 n/a Reach 1,119,249 1,010,722 11
43 51 Ziggurat Brand Consultants 1,157,811 1,177,350 -2
44 52 WPA Pinfold 1,897,815 1,289,513 47
45 54 Robson Dowry Associates 1,255,000 1,128,000 11
46 n/a Underscore 1,924,996 1,305,539 47
47 58 Pierrot 1,566,278 1,371,588 14
48 57 Independent Marketing 940,000 1,010,000 -7
49 60 hey Moscow 1,361,449 1,221,837 11
50 n/a Arthaus 1,021,531 819,957 25
51 n/a Honey 801,419 116,284 589
52 n/a The Foundry Communications 1,744,189 1,948,667 -10
53 n/a The Liquid Way 2,233,052 1,714,507 30
Rank Agency Int'l Staff
'08 '07 work(%)
1 1 Imagination 43 381
2 4 Loewy 0 382
n/a The Brand Union* n/a n/a
3 2 Checkland Kindleysides 10 88
n/a Interbrand* n/a 120
n/a Jack Morton WW* n/a 90
4 3 Radley Yeldar 4 120
5 6 Design Bridge 54 100
6 8 Blue Marlin Brand Design 20 107
7 5 Jones Knowles Ritchie 5 81
n/a FutureBrand* 66 75
8 7 Start Creative 7 64
9 10 Elmwood 6 92
10 11 Rufus Leonard 4 80
11 12 Vibrandt Distillery 40 58
12 20 Dalziel & Pow Design 0 86
13 n/a Sheridan & Co 27 98
14 n/a Lloyd Northover 30 62
15 19 Dragon 46 43
16 17 Springetts 4 45
17 n/a Linney Design 28 55
n/a Coley Porter Bell* n/a 42
18 n/a Tynan d'Arcy 20 36
19 23 Wardour 10 50
n/a Lambie-Nairn* 36 n/a
20 37 Boxer 60 34
21 n/a Redhouse Lane 1 69
22 n/a Navyblue 4 58
23 n/a LFH 60 55
24 26 Live & Breathe 0 41
25 24 Pearlfisher 60 45
26 n/a P & W Design 41 20
27 25 Oakwood 1 40
28 30 Stocks Taylor Benson 5 28
29 38 Turquoise Brand 90 29
30 28 BR&Me n/a 23
31 33 Parker Williams Design 7 25
32 n/a Precedent 0 50
33 n/a Lewis Moberly 32 26
34 n/a JHP 60 30
35 n/a Creative Lynx 3 40
36 47 Chaos Design 42 18
37 46 LMC Design 15 26
38 n/a Brandopus 10 22
39 n/a Storm Brand Design 0 25
40 56 Dew Gibbons 70 15
41 49 Wyatt International 2 29
42 n/a Reach 0 15
43 51 Ziggurat Brand Consultants 25 14
44 52 WPA Pinfold 10 16
45 54 Robson Dowry Associates 5 14
46 n/a Underscore 8 14
47 58 Pierrot 5 14
48 57 Independent Marketing 25 10
49 60 hey Moscow 0 15
50 n/a Arthaus 5 8
51 n/a Honey 0 16
52 n/a The Foundry Communications 25 21
53 n/a The Liquid Way 0 12
1 1 Imagination
Founded 1978. Privately owned. Chairman John Banks, chief
executive Gary Withers. No specialisms disclosed. Clients
include Ford Motor Company, Shell International, Sony. Member
2 4 Loewy
Founded 1929. Privately owned. Chairman Mark Adams, chief
executive Charlie Hoult. 33% packaging, 15% corporate identity,
18% corporate literature, 23% product, 1% exhibitions and
events, 9% internet/web. Clients include Unilever, Fujitsu,
n/a The Brand Union*
Founded 1977. Subsidiary WPP. Chairman UK Dave Brown, managing
director UK Simon Bailey. No specialisms disclosed. No clients
disclosed. Member DBA. www.thebrandunion.com
3 2 Checkland Kindleysides
Founded 1979. Privately owned. Managing director Claire
Callaway. No specialisms disclosed. No clients disclosed.
Founded 1974. Subsidiary Omnicom. Chairman Rita Clifton, chief
executive Rune Gustafson. 6% packaging, 94% corporate identity.
Clients include Godrej, RSA, Thomson Reuters. Member DBA.
n/a Jack Morton WW*
Founded 1976. Subsidiary Interpublic Group. Chairman Josh
McCall, managing director Julian Pullan. No specialisms
disclosed. Clients include Nokia, IBM, Toyota. Member DBA.
4 3 Radley Yeldar
Founded 1986. Privately owned. Chairman Carl Radley, managing
director Andrew Gibbs, creative director Andrew Gorman. 68%
corporate literature, 15% internet/web design, 10% corporate
identity, 7% strategic work. Clients include Pearson, Capita,
5 6 Design Bridge
Founded 1986. Privately owned. Chairman Sir William Goodenough
Bt, managing director John Morris. 90% packaging, 10% corporate
identity. Clients include Unilever, KFC, TNT.
6 8 Blue Marlin Brand Design
Founded 1993. Privately owned. Joint owners Andrew Eyles and
Dave Hodgson. 75% packaging, 15% corporate identity, 5%
internet/web, 5% innovation. Clients include Unilever, GSK,
Shell. Member DBA. www.bluemarlinbd.com
7 5 Jones Knowles Ritchie
Founded 1990. Privately owned. Chief executive Andy Knowles.
100% packaging. Clients include Unilever, Diageo, Mars. Member
Founded 1999. Subsidiary Interpublic Group. Chairman Jean Louis
Dumeu, chief executive Patrick Smith. No specialisms disclosed.
Clients include Nokia Nseries, Unilever Ice Cream, Cadbury.
8 7 Start Creative
Founded 1996. Subsidiary Start. Chairman Michael Curtis. 1%
retail/interiors, 14% packaging, 33% corporate identity, 9%
corporate literature, 1% product, 1% exhibitions and events,
41% internet/web. Clients include Virgin Media, Adidas, Virgin
Mobile. Member DBA. www.startcreative.co.uk
9 10 Elmwood
Founded 1989. Privately owned. Chairman Jonathan Sands. 63%
packaging, 8% corporate identity, 26% corporate literature, 4%
internet/web. Clients include Asda, SSL, HBOS. Member DBA.
10 11 Rufus Leonard
Founded 1989. Privately owned. Chairman Neil Svensen, managing
director Will Rowe. 30% corporate identity, 20% corporate
literature, 50% internet/web. Clients include Lloyds TSB,
Telefonica O2, QinetiQ. Member DBA. www.rufusleonard.com
11 12 Vibrandt Distillery
Founded 1993. Privately owned. Chairman Ray Armes, managing
director John Sandom. 100% packaging/consultancy. Clients
include Unilever, Premier, Nestle. Member DBA. www.1hq.co.uk
12 20 Dalziel & Pow Design
Founded 1983. Privately owned. Managing director Ros Scott. 88%
retail/interiors, 12% corporate identity. Clients include Next,
The John David Group, Gap. Member DBA. www.dalziel&pow.co.uk
13 n/a Sheridan & Co
Founded 1983. Privately owned. Managing director Michael
Sheridan. 100% retail/interiors. Clients include Procter &
Gamble, Clarins, Laura Mercier. www.sheridanandco.com
14 n/a Lloyd Northover
Founded 1975. Subsidiary Media Square. Chairman Jim Northover,
chief executive Mike Taylor. 20% retail/interiors, 25%
corporate identity, 15% corporate literature, 5% internet/web,
35% other. Clients include NS&I, Lexus Europe, Belfast City
Council. Member DBA. www.lloydnorthover.com
15 19 Dragon
Founded 1991. Privately owned. Chairman Dorothy MacKenzie,
managing director Ian Farnfield. 54% packaging, 46% corporate
identity. No clients disclosed. www.dragonbrands.com
16 17 Springetts
Founded 1976. Privately owned. Managing director Andy Black.
91% packaging, 9% corporate identity. Clients include Young's
Seafood, Twinings, Yoplait. Member DBA. www.springetts.co.uk
17 n/a Linney Design
Founded 1984. Privately owned. Managing director Michael
Fisher. 15% packaging, 6% corporate identity, 49% corporate
literature, 2% exhibitions and events, 28% internet/web.
Clients include Yamaha Motors, Coors, Mars UK. Member DBA.
n/a Coley Porter Bell*
Founded 1978. Subsidiary WPP. Chief executive Vicky Bullen. 60%
packaging, 40% corporate identity. Clients include Unilever,
Pernod Ricard, Coca-Cola. Member DBA. www.cpb.co.uk
18 n/a Tynan d'Arcy
Founded 1991. Privately owned. Chairman Ian d'Arcy, managing
director Alistair Eglinton. 80% packaging, 10% corporate
literature, 10% internet/web. Clients include Bayer Consumer
Health, InterContinental Hotels Group, Burtons Foods.
19 23 Wardour
Founded 1996. Privately owned. Chief executive Martin
MacConnol. 5% corporate identity, 75% corporate literature, 20%
internet/web. Clients include ITV, Camelot, Unilever. Member
Founded 1976. Subsidiary WPP. Chief Executive Christian
Schroeder. 10% packaging, 60% corporate identity, 15%
internet/web, 15% broadcast/TV. Clients include O2,
Sainsbury's, BBC. Member DBA. www.lambie-nairn.com
20 37 Boxer
Founded 1989. Division The Marketing Store Worldwide. Managing
director Paul Castledine. 15% retail/interiors, 60% packaging,
10% corporate identity, 10% corporate literature, 5%
internet/web. Clients include McDonald's, Tesco, Unilever.
Member DBA. www.boxerthinkbeyond.co.uk
21 n/a Redhouse Lane
Founded 1988. Privately owned. Managing director Jeremy
Redhouse. 10% corporate identity, 20% corporate literature, 15%
internet/web, 40% magazine publishing, 5% film, 10%
copywriting. Clients include Royal Bank of Scotland, Department
for Children, Schools and Families, EDF. www.redhouselane.com
22 n/a Navyblue
Founded 1994. Privately owned. Joint managing directors Doug
Alexander and Geoff Nicol. 10% packaging, 40% corporate
identity, 25% corporate literature, 25% internet/web. Clients
include Boots, London 2012, BDO Stoy Hayward. Member DBA.
23 n/a LFH
Founded 1993. Privately owned. Joint managing directors Graham
Hawkins and Mano Manoharan. 100% packaging. Clients include
Unilever, Coca-Cola, Carlsberg. Member DBA.
24 26 Live & Breathe
Founded 1989. Privately owned. Chairman Adrian Watts. 5%
packaging, 15% corporate identity, 25% corporate literature,
10% internet/web, 45% POS/Direct. Clients include Peacocks
Stores Group, Zavvi Retail, Bluewater. www.liveandbreathe.co.uk
25 24 Pearlfisher
Founded 1992. Privately owned. Managing partner Mike Branson.
75% packaging, 5% corporate identity, 5% corporate literature,
3% internet/web, 12% brand strategy and planning. Clients
include Cadbury. Edrington Group, Unilever. Member DBA.
26 n/a P & W Design
Founded 1987. Privately owned. Joint partners Simon Pemberton
and Adrian Whitefoord. 100% packaging. Clients include Tesco,
Ferrero, Starbucks. Member DBA. www.p-and-w.com
27 25 Oakwood
Founded 1995. Privately owned. Managing director Tony Marwick.
1% retail/interiors, 2% packaging, 18% corporate identity, 60%
corporate literature, 4% exhibitions and events, 15%
internet/web. Clients include Mattel, BP, Comet. Member DBA.
28 30 Stocks Taylor Benson
Founded 1988. Privately owned. Managing director Joe Bakowski.
29% packaging, 31% corporate literature, 40% POS. Clients
include Sainsbury's, Tesco, Next. Member DBA.
29 38 Turquoise Brand
Founded 2003. Privately owned. Chief executive Sharon Wheeler,
managing director Linda Garcia. 80% corporate identity, 20%
motion graphics. Clients include Saudi Telecom, Nakheel, Pipex.
30 28 BR&Me
Founded 1992. Privately owned. Managing director George
Riddiford. 97% packaging, 2% corporate identity, 1% corporate
literature. Clients include Scottish & Newcastle, Sainsbury's,
Accantia. Member DBA. www.brandme.co.uk
31 33 Parker Williams Design
Founded 1990. Subsidiary Sun Chemical. Managing director Kate
Bradford. 98% packaging, 2% corporate literature. Clients
include Sainsbury's, Greencore, Co-op Trading. Member DBA.
32 n/a Precedent
Founded 1992. Privately owned. Managing director Paul Hoskins.
20% corporate identity, 10% corporate literature, 70%
internet/web. Clients include University of Southampton, RSPCA,
British Heart Foundation. www.precedent.co.uk
33 n/a Lewis Moberly
Founded 1984. Privately owned. Managing director Robert
Moberly. 70% packaging, 30% corporate identity. Clients include
LVMH, Tefal, Waitrose. Member DBA. www.lewismoberly.com
34 n/a JHP
Founded 1979. Privately owned. Joint managing directors Raj
Wilkinson and Steve Collis. 60% retail/interiors, 10%
packaging, 20% corporate identity, 5% corporate literature, 5%
exhibitions and events. Clients include World Duty Free,
Hyundai, Cadbury. Member DBA. www.jhp-design.com
35 n/a Creative Lynx
Founded 1986. Privately owned. Chairman Stuart Wilson, managing
director Neil Martin. 10% corporate identity, 40% corporate
literature, 5% exhibitions and events, 40% internet/web.
Clients include Astra Zeneca, North Northants Development
Company, Janssen-Cilag. www.creativelynx.co.uk
36 47 Chaos Design
Founded 1971. Privately owned. Managing director Peter
Campbell. 27% corporate identity, 56% corporate literature, 17%
internet/web. Clients include Canon, Sony, Christie & Co.
Member DBA. www.chaosdesign.com
37 46 LMC Design
Founded 1985. Privately owned. Chairman Max Cohen, managing
director Andrew Cole. 2% retail/interiors, 20% packaging, 10%
corporate identity, 60% corporate literature, 3% exhibitions
and events, 5% internet/web. Clients include Merlin
Entertainments, Nestle, Carlsberg UK. www.lmcesign.co.uk
38 n/a Brandopus
Founded 2006. Privately owned. Chairman Paul Loach, managing
director Nir Wegrzyn. 97% packaging, 3% corporate identity.
Clients include Northern Foods, Nestle, Yell/Yellow pages.
Member DBA. www.brandopus.co.uk
39 n/a Storm Brand Design
Founded 1994. Privately owned. Managing director Bruce
Drinkwater. No specialisms disclosed. No Clients disclosed.
40 56 Dew Gibbons
Founded 1997. Privately owned. Managing director Steve Gibbons.
90% packaging, 10% corporate identity. Clients include Procter
& Gamble, Boehringer Ingelheim, Coty. Member DBA.
41 49 Wyatt International
Founded 1952. Privately owned. Chairman Brian Barrett, managing
director Karen-Anne Bernie. 5% retail/interiors, 30% corporate
identity, 40% corporate literature, 5% exhibitions and events,
10% internet/web 10% other. Clients include RoSPA, Saint Gobain
Pipleines, Brammer. www.wyattinternational.com
42 n/a Reach
Founded 1998. Privately owned. Managing director Caroline
Hagen. 90% packaging, 10% corporate identity. Clients include
Reckitt Benckiser, General Mills, Daniels. Member DBA.
43 51 Ziggurat Brand Consultants
Founded 1984. Privately owned. Managing director Kellie
Chapple. 75% packaging, 15% corporate identity, 7% corporate
literature, 3% exhibitions and events. Clients include PepsiCo,
Imperial Tobacco, Bottlegreen. Member DBA.
44 52 WPA Pinfold
Founded 1978. Privately owned. Managing director Myles Pinfold.
5% retail/interiors, 20% packaging, 25% corporate identity, 25%
corporate literature, 5% product, 5% exhibitions and events,
15% internet/web. Clients include RWE Npower, T & R Theakston,
Bourne Leisure Group. Member DBA. www.wpa-pinfold.co.uk
45 54 Robson Dowry Associates
Founded 1976. Privately owned. Joint managing directors Ian
Robson and Andy Sanders. 20% packaging, 30% corporate identity,
30% corporate literature, 5% exhibitions and events, 15%
internet/web. Clients include Bank of England,
Constellation/Matthew Clark, Environmental Agency. Member DBA.
46 n/a Underscore
Founded 1999. Privately owned. Managing director Neil Stanhope.
30% corporate identity, 40% corporate literature, 10%
exhibitions and events, 20% internet/web. Clients include The
Millennium Stadium, Warner Estate, Elemis. www.underscore.co.uk
47 58 Pierrot
Founded 1992. Privately owned. Managing director Andrew
Campbell. 5% packaging, 10% corporate identity, 55% corporate
literature, 10% exhibitions and events, 20% internet/web.
Clients include SJ Berwin. Compass Group, The National Trust.
48 57 Independent Marketing
Founded 1999. Privately owned. Joint managing directors
Caroline Beecher and Arnold Woodhouse. 25% corporate identity,
25% corporate literature, 5% exhibitions and events, 25%
internet/web, 20% strategic consultancy. Clients include
InterContinental Hotels Group, Ethiad Airways, Compass Group.
49 60 hey Moscow
Founded 2001. Privately owned. Managing director Liz Wakefield.
12% corporate identity, 36% corporate literature, 7%
exhibitions and events, 11% internet/web, 4% consultancy, 24%
advertising, 6% DM. Clients include Asthma UK, Learning &
Skills Council, Northgate IS. www.heymoscow.com
50 n/a Arthaus
Founded 1991. Privately owned. Managing director Mark Luckett.
25% corporate identity, 25% corporate literature, 50%
internet/web. Clients include Diageo, International Hotel
Group, Standard Chartered Bank. www.arthaus.co.uk
51 n/a Honey
Founded 2006. Privately owned. Chairman Richard Pollard,
managing director Doug James. 10% retail/interiors, 50%
packaging, 20% corporate identity, 10% corporate literature, 2%
product, 3% exhibitions and events, 5% internet/web. Clients
include Harrods, Tesco, Graduates Yorkshire. Member DBA.
52 n/a The Foundry Communications
Founded 1998. Privately owned. Managing director Kevin Murphy.
10% packaging, 10% corporate identity, 40% corporate
literature, 5% exhibitions and events, 20% internet/web, 15%
advertising. Clients include SSL International, Molnlycke
Group, Dechra. www.foundrycomms.co.uk
53 n/a The Liquid Way
Founded 2003. Privately owned. Managing director Anton Jerges.
20% corporate identity, 35% corporate literature, 30%
exhibitions and events, 15% internet/web. Clients include
Bentley, Land Securities, American Airlines. Member DBA.
Source: Marketing design survey 2008.
*Companies House data provided by Willott Kingston Smith for companies
affected by the Sarbanes-Oxley Act
CASE STUDY - NUDE
Fresh & Wild co-founder Bryan Meehan launched the Nude skincare collection last summer, under the premise that what we put on our skin is as important as what we put in our mouths.
Meehan worked with design consultancy Pearlfisher to generate the product's brand identity, design and packaging from scratch.
Nude claims to be the first completely natural, 'ethical' and environmentally friendly premium skincare range. However, rather than trade on its 'worthy' positioning, as most other 100% natural products do, Pearlfisher creative partner Jonathan Ford aimed to create a design to move Nude into a more stylish domain.
Crucially, the design consultancy took an early role in the development of the company's overall marketing strategy. 'Pearlfisher was involved right at the beginning, before we even had a product, and design remains at the heart of product development,' explains Nude marketing manager Annmarie Harris. 'All our imagery is based on the packaging, as is our in-store presence, where, for example, shop fittings reflect the structure and shape of the bottles.'
Although sales data is not yet available, Harris claims that Nude has exceeded its sales targets and is establishing a fresh sector in the beauty market for premium natural skincare.
DATA FILE - TOP AGENCIES FOR GROWTH
TOP FIVE BIG AGENCIES
Rank Agency Fee income 2007 Fee income 2006 % change
1 Loewy 21,124,000 7,932,000 166
2 Lloyd Northover 4,643,520 2,049,600 127
3 Start Creative 7,096,023 4,441,155 60
4 Boxer 3,603,000 2,306,000 56
5 Dalziel & Pow 5,387,474 3,840,078 40
Note: Fee income over £3m. Does not include Sarbanes-Oxley
TOP FIVE SMALL AGENCIES
Rank Agency Fee income 2007 Fee income 2006 % change
1 Honey 704,054 113,036 523
2 Underscore 918,792 593,177 55
3 Dew Gibbons 1,361,254 942,000 45
4 P & W Design 2,900,000 2,080,000 39
5 Arthaus Visual 814,801 610,753 33
Note: fee income under £3m. Does not include Sarbanes-Oxley
CASE STUDY - STRONGBOW
When Scottish & Newcastle (S&N) launched an overhauled version of its Strongbow cider brand in 2005, rival Magners was very much in the ascendancy.
To combat this, and to capitalise on a renaissance in cider drinking, packaging design consultancy Jones Knowles Ritchie was tasked with producing a 'revolutionary' shift in the Strongbow pack presentation.
The resulting design uses a redrawn version of the brand's archer motif, while a curving graphic is intended to broaden the drink's appeal by making it less masculine.
According to John Dunsmore, former chief executive of S&N, the redesign 'softened and modernised Strongbow, attracting additional drinkers, including women, to the brand, without alienating its existing drinker base'.
Over the past three years, Strongbow has continued to grow its share of the market, according to Jones Knowles Ritchie chief executive Andrew Knowles.
SPOTLIGHT ON ... DIGITAL DESIGN
Digital has, without doubt, become mainstream. Now, according to The Brand Union managing director Simon Bailey, 'it is more often than not the starting point of a brand's identity'.
As a result, digital design skills, which are subsuming those in motion graphics, interaction design and information design, must be integrated with all other aspects of a client's design and communications programmes.
'The fresh generation of marketers is extremely savvy. This means we get asked some hardcore questions in pitches about exactly how things work,' says Rick Lippiett, creative director at digital consultancy Glass. 'But people still come from a marketing stable and often like to see pretty pictures and mock-ups. It is crucial from pitch onward that you make it clear you're not showing final designs - that is a stupid mistake, even though some clients may want that.'
From a creative point of view, Lippiett believes that the shiny, bold colours and white backgrounds of the web 2.0-style are starting to give way to richer colours, bigger, more complex background images and higher-quality photography.
'Everybody expected TV to become more like the web, but, in reality, the web has become much more like TV, which makes sense when you consider the way people want to consume media - they don't like being told when to watch things,' says Lippiett. In this way, he adds, computers are becoming a nexus for all kinds of content that digital designers are best-placed to interpret and deliver.
SPOTLIGHT ON ... PACKAGING
The FMCG sector is undergoing a continued shift toward more premium products - a trend that has created a great deal of packaging design work.
According to Honey partner Doug James, design agencies can achieve even greater success and growth by supporting client businesses in areas such as new product development and strategy.
There are also many smaller-scale challenger brands, such as Filthy Food Co, which works with Elmwood, and Salty Dog crisps, designed by Haines McGregor, which are quick to recognise the role designers can play, using packs as advertising 'real-estate'.
According to Pearlfisher creative partner Jonathan Ford, a higher number of owner-managed brands are willing to put a significant proportion of their budget into design. 'They are showing the big boys how to do it by using design to stand out and disrupt a market sector,' he says.
The other issue and opportunity for design agencies is environmental sustainability, says B&Q packaging design and guidelines manager Jonathan Couper. 'In structural design there are massive opportunities in delivering both environmental and commercial benefits by considering materials, efficient use of space and product and packaging designed for reuse or recycling,' he says.
'There are similar opportunities in graphics. There is a desperate need for green icons that customers can really understand and act on. The industry could do more to get hold of this.'
SPOTLIGHT ON ... BRANDING AND CORPORATE IDENTITY
Despite recent redundancies, at The Brand Union and Interbrand, strategic branding agencies tend to fare better in leaner economic times than other design sectors, says Results International senior consultant Tony Walford. Nonetheless, the watchword is 'uncertainty', with some industry areas performing strongly, and others dipping.
A number of corporate-branding-focused agencies have begun to restructure, partly to weather poorer conditions in Western markets, but also to capitalise on growing opportunities overseas, especially in Russia, Eastern Europe and the Middle East. Design group Navyblue, for example, has set up a joint venture in Budapest.
According to Linda Garcia, managing director of design firm Turquoise, branding consultancies are more adaptable to working in any location. 'A London client wouldn't retain an ad agency anywhere but London, because the agency wouldn't be able to service the client with all the production work,' she says. 'But in branding - and because of the project nature of the business - you can set up temporary teams or go to locations and service your clients during the project, wherever they are.'
SPOTLIGHT ON ... RETAIL INTERIORS
A major challenge facing retail designers is luring shoppers away from the web and onto the high street. As digital designers make use of faster internet connections to render online retail experiences more immersive, flexible and easy to use, 3-D designers must capitalise on the tangible nature of a real store.
Online fashion brand Oli, for example, recently launched a virtual changing-room, designed by Conchango, which allows shoppers to put together combinations of clothes.
It is still not the same as the real thing, though. 'The retail space is not just about efficiency and density, but about emotional connections,' says David Dalziel, director of Dalziel & Pow, the agency behind Primark and HMV stores.
Brand environment agency Household's clients include Oasis and Coast and its director, Sarah Page, says that marketing teams are starting to turn to designers for a greater steer on the strategic direction of their business. 'Being at the table with marketing has brought real value because they now see the value that design brings to their business,' she adds.
CASE STUDY - VIRGIN MEDIA
When cable company NTL Telewest merged with Virgin Mobile in 2006, the resulting business, Virgin Media, was left with a legacy of disparate brands, workplace environments and the cultural idiosyncrasies of three 'parent' businesses.
To bring some much-needed consistency to the offices of the combined business, as well as to boost employee morale, Virgin Media brought in brand environment design specialists Household to redesign and refurbish about 900 buildings across the country, instilling them with a Virgin culture.
Household created a concept called 'Our Neighbourhood', which was intended to give a sense of ownership, empowerment and pride back to Virgin Media staff. The centrepiece of this revitalisation programme is a call centre in Wythenshawe, Manchester.
The workplace has been overhauled with fresh features including bespoke wallpapers, chalk walls and a branded 'impact wall' in the reception area that transforms what was previously a transition point into a place to spend time.
Virgin Media creative director Adrian Spooner claims that the redesign has provided a much-needed morale boost. 'Wythenshawe had quite dreary canteens in the past, for example, but now people are pleased to be there,' he says.
Information was collated by Marketing by sending a survey to each agency directly. The respondents have been ranked according to their 2007 fee income. For agencies affected by the US Sarbanes-Oxley Act, which restricts the amount of information firms are allowed to make public, we have used Companies House data provided by Willott Kingston Smith. Gross profit for the latest available financial year is used to approximate fee income. These agencies have been placed in the table as a guide to their size, but not ranked. Where no fee income data was supplied, positions were determined by the supplied gross profit.
This article was first published on Marketing