Small is the next big thing Back
OK, this is not some complex that deeply roots itself in my psyche, I’m not a small person, in fact the truth is, I really could do with losing a fair bit of weight. The main point of this ramble is to make some noise about how I, and many others see the future of creative agencies.
After 7 years of working in Sydney and London, my arrival in Wellington, New Zealand in 2003 was an awakening to this idea of how “Small as the new big” could work. Accustomed to being siloed into a rigid freelance offering or a rigid role within an agency, which in turn would be siloed into their own, rigid position within the industry, the hub like mentality of the Wellington way was at first a shock to my, rigid conditioning to the way things were done. However the advantages of this smaller approach became rapidly evident.
I’m not here to pour scorn over the bigger agencies, they have their own very well defined silo within the industry and especially within Wellington. This muse is more about reflecting on my experiences of “the way of the small”.
Back in 2003 I received my first creative briefing here in Wellington. A public consultation was required with a strong need for a great understanding around the complexities of public transport. The agency I was with back then was a small company of 6 folks, each with a diverse set of skills and experiences to bring to the table. I learnt and watched in awe as my then CD gathered an extended crack team of strategic firepower from all four corners of the country (well one chap came up from Christchurch, another from Auckland, but I was enjoying the A-Team analogies for a moment). Within days the bespoke team met here in Wellington. Through that meeting it rapidly became evident to me that the insights gathered from each team member produced results that quickly proved themselves and significantly added to the existing in-house knowledge pool.
Now reading this back does make me feel like a great deal of this article is a bit “So what?”. This model is nothing new and operates all over the world. What is unique is how it applies to the Wellington brand agencies. Back in those halcyon days of the early 2000’s, many Wellington design agencies had the annual report jobs as great budget props. Marketing spend was higher. The economic environment positively encouraged creative activity. Now days the balance is very different. Many of the plump budgets have been on very effective diets. Brand and marketing spending has become a perceived risk (ironic as it is in lean times that clients should be investing more in their brand to grow and stand apart from the masses). Wellington agencies needed to evolve their offering.
In today’s climate, we offer our clients more and more reassurances and evidence that their relationship with us is delivering real tangible results. More and more the value that design offers is not only via the strategy and creative but embedded in knowing how to lead projects, co-ordinate and facilitate individual teams of knowledge experts. Being small means you can do this in an agile, prompt and cost effective manner, avoiding the terrific overheads maintaining a full time staff payroll. Ultimately our clients end up winning as we can continue offering great design services, with access to a cast of, well, thousands. Small is the new tomorrow.