Bryan Specht launches Salient Global

The “growth company” is designed to create data-driven human experiences.

Bryan Specht launches Salient Global

CHICAGO: Bryan Specht, ICF Next’s former chief growth and innovation officer, has founded Salient Global. 

The firm launched on Tuesday, with Specht as CEO and senior managing partner. Specht described Salient Global as “a growth company designed to create data-driven human experiences with a focus on delivering sustained growth for businesses, communities and people.”

Salient will provide services in data strategy, communications, creative, customer marketing and experience design, along with delivery in related areas.

Aside from Specht, the leadership team also includes Tricia Ewald as global president and senior managing partner, Guy Cierzan as chief strategy officer and senior managing partner, Daniel Welch as chief digital officer and senior managing partner, Jenny Garner as head of employee experience and managing partner, Jaclyn Johnston as head of purpose and managing partner, Andrew Kelly as head of marketing and managing partner, Emily McMahon as head of PR and managing partner and Andrea Zimmerman as head of brand strategy and managing partner. 

By November, Salient Global will have 13 full-time staffers. But the company will also assist clients through strategic alliances and with partner firms such as Absolunet (eCommerce solutions), Clout (DE&I engagement and PR), Digital on Six (Adobe Experience Cloud), Elevate Digital (digital and technology solutions), ICX Media (data-driven audience enrichment), McDougald Research (design research and strategy), Scale Marketing (performance marketing), SecondSight (data science and optimization) and timecraft (future-proof marketing). 

“We are setting the foundational relationship with clients from a data-driven strategy, advisory standpoint and accessing and connecting the right expert agencies, talent and resources to deliver the custom solution for growth for that client,” said Specht. “This is not a billable hour agency model. We believe we should grow when our clients grow, so we are focused on performance-based compensation models and budgeting because that’s the right way to do it.”

Salient Global already has a half-dozen clients onboard, said Specht. However, he declined to name any. 

“We have a lot of experience in CPG, food and beverage, travel and hospitality sectors, but we are looking for companies that want to do something different, who are very sincere in their desire to embrace data and to work with a partner in the spirit of true growth,” he said. “We want to work with companies that aren’t looking at us as a specific discipline provider and vendor, but who are looking at us to use skills like creativity, comms, marketing, PR, social media and digital to actually solve growth challenges or seize on growth opportunities.”   

Salient’s approach is built on a data advisory model and a proprietary suite of data products called Salient Synapse, which is in development. This model and product suite will support agency founders and service providers in key expert disciplines, assembled through alliances and acquisitions. Salient also plans to expand its network by launching “expert agencies with proven, innovative leaders” across disciplines such as creative, experience design, search and performance media, social and influencer, artificial intelligence and machine learning, Specht said.

Salient uses performance-based compensation models built in collaboration with clients and grounded in their business challenges. The company will also provide subscription-based services across a suite of data-centered products that are in development. All services and products will work together across customer, employee or other stakeholder journeys to deliver experiences that drive growth.

Salient Global is headquartered in Chicago, with offices in Minneapolis, Toronto and London. Active acquisition processes are underway on both the East and West Coasts of the U.S., as well as in Europe and Asia. 

In early 2020, Specht started Salient Group Ventures. He said that was very different brand and a bridge that “laid the groundwork for Salient Global. 

Salient Group Ventures, Specht explained, was more about advisory work he was doing and focused on raising money and investing his own money in businesses. The alliances Salient Global is working with are companies Specht got to know through advisory roles and investments.

“I built those relationships with the purpose of eventually launching a new growth company that would be working very closely with those alliance partners and make acquisitions to build out the Salient network,” Specht said.

Last May, Specht joined W2O Group as a group president, leading transformation, activation and marketing. In March, W2O rebranded as Real Chemistry. Since May 2021, Specht has been a strategic adviser for Real Chemistry.

Before that, Specht worked for ICF Next, which was created in December 2018 via the combination of Olson Engage, Olson Digital, Olson1to1, PulsePoint Group, the Future Customer, We Are Vista and other shops. In January 2019, it promoted Specht to managing partner and chief growth and innovation officer from president of Olson Engage. 

Specht served as president of Olson Engage from 2012 to 2017, before his role was expanded to lead Olson. Before that, he was COO of Olson Engage, known previously as Dig Communications.

Specht has been named to the PRWeek Power List several times, most recently in 2018.

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