Research & development for the brand and design industry

Information.  The power to change.

Information given context and purpose becomes knowledge.  Businesses need this to succeed, to overcome difficulties, to break through temporary stagnation.

But we believe competitors in this sector don’t get enough of the right kind of information to think about their business in a way that takes full advantage of opportunities, or helps them to reframe their response to changing circumstances.

The research and development programme is designed to collect the widest possible range of data, perspective, experience and insight, and to use it to give leadership and innovation in new thinking and new ways to build, energise and grow brand and design businesses.

Some of the basic skills of doing business are already widely and commendably supported in the industry, particularly around sales and marketing and new media practices.

Our agenda is to go beyond mainstream thought to a more creative and challenging response to modern market conditions.  From an evidenced-based platform we are looking at ways to improve existing practices, products and procedures and, in development, model new applications and strategies.

There is an additional value-add, that bringing this into our consultancy work with clients fosters for them a diverse and stimulating learning environment.

By delivering new ideas and expertise not only can we help solve practical problems and tackle growth deficit, we can increase the stock of agency knowledge, advance understanding within existing capabilities, and mentor development of assets that have future significance as well.

Our research has been collecting, analysing and interpreting data around three core themes:

  • The structure and economics of the design market, including buyer behaviour and how well brand and design agencies actually perform
  • Client experience, including how they source and commission agencies, their experience of engaging and working with agencies, and what else they might like to have
  • Best practice for the industry, across an extensive range of skills and techniques, including strategy, business model and proposition, organization and management, execution, future planning and development

This is being extended to make comparisons with and draw learning from other segments of creative marketing services and other discipline-specific professional business services; and to provide secondary-level economic data and market forecasting to further encourage and inform future planning for our clients’ business.

Owners and managers of agencies scarcely need to be told how crowded and competitive the industry is.

Brand and design is a low-cost low-barrier to entry sector, with not very much obvious differentiation between competitors and everyone trying to work out how to get the best price for their work.

On the other side of the equation, there are very few buyers, relatively, each holding the power to be highly selective about who they will work with.  

We also see ever-increasing mission creep across the boundaries between what were once quite separate marketing services, and now between different business services: management consultants and software companies are moving directly into the territory as well.

The right response to all of this, and the real opportunity to do well, is to become more clear-sighted about the market conditions you’re facing, more progressive in your business modelling and more inventive in your use of resources, informed by the best objective information you can get.