Articles

Why Small is Intensely Powerful

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I’ve always been driven by the belief that creativity (in the right hands) can deliver spectacular commercial results.

It’s a guiding principle I’ve been striving to deliver for over 30 years, on hundreds of different branding projects. My clients have ranged from 3 people in a room to global organisations with over 25,000 employees.

When I first set up we were a small outfit. Hands on, a team of experienced people with a common ambition – to produce great and effective creative work.

This spirit brought us success and we naturally expanded the business. I ended up with a staff of 160 people and gradually came to realise that the size of the agency was actually compromising our creativity, not boosting it.

We started to care more about the numbers than the creativity. We had a big mouth to feed. Overheads and salaries overtook delivering world-class creativity and commercial impact.

When a project came into the agency it would be placed with whichever creative team was available, not with the team that was best suited to the task in hand.

OK. You might say, isn’t that the price of success? I thought so, until one day it dawned on me that out of my staff of 160, there were only five people who were the source of 90% of our creative solution. Everybody else, (as lovely as they were) provided support of one sort or another.

In short, I realised that there was a better way of working and that chasing the dream of a huge and dominant agency was wrong thinking.

A small team of experienced professionals led by a strong creative director can deliver startling efficiencies and economies to both client and agency alike.

The benefits are clear. Closer working relationships delivering transformational work without the bureaucracy. In my experience, the most important ingredient for great creative work comes from great relationships.  And great relationships are based on trust. 

One puts ones trust in people not in agencies. In the end it will be someone who solves your creative problem, not a company. All of which points to the client needing to have access to the person who is actually doing the work.

And herein lies a problem for large agencies. Normally the most senior and most talented creative person in the company is spread so thinly that his or her contribution to a client’s project can only be superficial. Great work is never the result of superficiality but the very opposite.

The ‘small’ model has come into its own in the last few years as some of the best creative talent in the industry has checked out of the big agency model with its focus on revenues over creative excellence and is now available for hire. These valuable people prefer to remain independent. So the best directors, illustrators, writers, animators, strategists and project directors are now available.

I said at the beginning that my objective has always been to create great and commercially effective work. It is still my objective. The difference now is I know the larger creative companies will struggle in the future. It is my belief that more and more clients will seek out smaller, hand-picked teams to work with.

No two projects are the same, that’s why we bring together the right people to solve the project in hand. Where some organisations have a fixed, ‘one size fits all approach’, we prefer the fluid.

Quite simply it’s a better way of working. More economical, more efficient, more experienced and more effective. There are no middlemen, no cast of thousands, just talent and a great working relationship.


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