BRANDING CONSULTANCIES: EXPERTS IN BRANDING - Branding consultancies come in many shapes and sizes. But which are the hottest, who owns them and what clients do they have on their books?

C EYE



C eye is a privately owned brand and graphic design consultancy founded

in 1985. The company splits its offering into four main disciplines that

can work either together or independently. These are brand diagnostics,

brand strategy, identity creation and design, and graphic design.



C eye's commercial director, Jon Gold, says that being privately owned

has its benefits. "The fact that we are small and independent but able

to cover the whole spectrum of services through our strategic alliances

means that we can keep overheads low and ensure we offer value for money

to our clients." C eye says that while the audience and subject matter

make each client different, it always uses a common approach to its

brand solutions. Regardless of whether it is a logo, a staff magazine or

a piece of sales literature, C eye believes that the commercial value of

the brand must be communicated.



It strongly believes that even the most visually stimulating corporate

identity is worthless if it is part of a marketing communications

strategy that is bland or confusing.



Gold says that C eye's approach involves gaining a thorough

understanding of its client's business. "Successful brands are never

created on a whim.



It is only when you have a fundamental understanding of an organisation,

its culture, vision and the sphere in which it operates that you can

create a truly successful brand." He adds: "Our approach to brand

communications is truly holistic, which makes us equally comfortable

with entering the brand communications cycle at the back end (brand

diagnostics, positioning and strategy), the middle (brand naming,

identity design and management) or the front end (brand communications

design)." Clients include Consignia, Financial Times, NIG, Posthouse,

Powergen, Prudential and Time Inc.



ENTERPRISE IG



The WPP-owned Enterprise IG is an international multi-disciplinary

branding and identity consultancy, although its roots are in corporate

design. The company aims to span the bridge between traditional

management consultancy, corporate identity design and internal

communications consultancy, bringing together teams of people from

diverse backgrounds with complimentary skills in strategic analysis,

creative thinking, visual expression and the means for putting the brand

promise into action.



The company boasts offices in the eight key economic markets and

specifically offers global solutions to corporations that have

globalised or are in the process of globalising their brands.



Enterprise IG is part of WPP's recently formed group The Brand

Union.



This group comprises consulting brands such as Enterprise Experience,

Lambie-Nairn, Coley Porter Bell, The Henley Centre and the recently

acquired internal communications specialist, MCA. The unit is a

dedicated "brand experience" offering that aims to provide solutions for

all brand identity and design needs.



The company has devised the four-step "brand alignment" process, a

business tool designed to help corporations develop and maintain brand

leadership across the whole of an organisation by connecting customers,

employees, business partners and investors. The ultimate goal of this is

to fill the missing link between brand promises and business

actions.



Enterprise IG's chief executive, Patrick Smith, says: "An organisation's

behaviour and environment shape its reputation and, subsequently,

determine its brand. Managing your corporate brand is about managing

your intangible assets." Clients include American Express, Coca-Cola,

Ford, Gillette and Merrill Lynch.



FUTUREBRAND WORLDWIDE



Boasting revenues of $100 million, FutureBrand Worldwide has 31

offices across the globe and focuses on delivering solutions to

companies in the fields of aviation, automotive, telecoms and IT, new

media and professional services.



Launched two years ago by Interpublic, the brand consultancy is closely

associated with the ad agency McCann-Erickson and is part of the McCann

World Group.



Charles Trevail, the chief executive of FutureBrand, says: "The McCann

World Group sees us as a fledgling network. But for us to thrive it is

vital that our sister companies and owners understand the importance of

a single global culture." In March, FutureBrand joined forces with IBM,

a company whose agencies of record are the WPP-owned shops MindShare and

Ogilvy & Mather, to create an e-branding consultancy for Fortune 1,000

companies looking to stretch and differentiate their brands in the new

economy.



Headquartered in New York and London, FutureBrand offers brand

positioning, design, management and valuation, as well as packaging,

interactive, retail and industrial brand design. This offering,

according to the company, is achieved by consultant teams with

experience in brand assessment, name generation, brand research,

corporate identity, brand valuation, environments, brand management,

brand strategy, brand positioning, brand architecture, brand finance and

brand design.



In short, lots of disciplines beginning with the word "brand".



Clients include British Airways, Coca-Cola, Kodak, Microsoft, Motorola,

Tesco, Thomas Cook and TXU Energi.



IMAGINATION



Imagination has built a solid reputation on the creation and management

of events, environments and experiences. It also boasts gorgeous offices

that are wrapped in a giant ribbon at Christmas time and the fabulous

Gary's Cafe, a staff canteen named after its founder.



The company was formed in 1978 by the current managing and creative

director, Gary Withers, and still is privately owned. According to the

company's marketing and strategic director, Ralph Ardill, the benefits

of remaining independent are three-fold. "Our independence allows us to

make decisions quickly as we don't have to go through the layers of

approval process.



Second, being independent means that we can focus on delivering

inspirational work that works. And third, our status has allowed us to

develop a more personal relationship with our clients - a bit like a

corner shop mentality." Albeit more of a Dean & De Luca than a

Co-op.



Imagination's activities range from communications planning, retail and

leisure design, project management, multimedia, TV production, films,

touring shows and theatrical events.



The company believes that its strength is the breadth of its in-house

resources and creative ambition.



Multi-disciplinary teams have responsibility for conceiving "the big

idea" and for delivering the product.



Imagination began promoting the concept of brand experience in the early

90s. Its thinking in this area has infused much of its core business in

exhibitions, events and other forms of live communications.

Imagination's first opportunity to create a permanent brand experience

was in 1998, when it created a new visitor attraction to replace the

Guinness Hopstore, the brewer's tourist attraction in Dublin.



Clients include BT, Coca-Cola, Ericsson, Ford and Guinness.



INTERBRAND



Founded as a dedicated brand consultancy in 1974, Interbrand has

expanded rapidly through organic growth and acquisition.



Much of the organisation's work is management consultancy-based (brand

valuation, research, internal management). The company was bought by

Omnicom in 1993 and now has 26 offices around the world. The London arm

of Interbrand acquired Newell & Sorrell, the identity consultancy, in

1997.



"It's odd that when Interbrand first started there wasn't a market for

brand consultancy," Rita Clifton, the chief executive of Interbrand

London, says. "At that time the word brand meant packaging. Now,

however, brands are anything from utilities, football teams, charities

and countries." She continues: "It is interesting to see how many types

of corporate/retail/ marketing/design companies have now changed their

descriptors to brand consultancy. One of the issues in the business

currently is the potential polarisation between larger brand

consultancies that offer a broad range of brand-related services and

smaller design-based consultancies that basically do visual identity

work and call it branding. The problem that this creates is that it can

feed some common prejudices that branding is a cosmetic exercise. This

is not to decry the importance or value of design, but to emphasise that

it is only part of the solution." Clients include BMW and the new

identity Mini, British Museum, Fifa World Cup 2002, Oxfam,

PricewaterhouseCoopers, Six Continents and T&T.



SIEGELGALE



Siegelgale is an international strategic branding and internet

consultancy founded in 1969. The company offers a multi-disciplinary

approach to construct a unified brand experience both on- and offline,

generated by its four core business teams: e-business and brand strategy

consulting, user experience research, design and internet solutions.



Siegelgale specialises in working for clients in sectors such as

financial services, telecommunications, utilities and healthcare. The

company recently developed the "brand soul" for Abbey National's

internet bank Cahoot, which was then used by Euro RSCG Wnek Gosper to

develop an advertising campaign.



To head off competition from other new online brands in the banking

sector, such as Marbles, Egg and Smile, Siegelgale led the client

through the complete brand development process, making Abbey National

see that the way it defined its brand would influence its partner's

strategy. A name and visual identity was implemented with discreet

positioning and Cahoot gained 45,000 customers in the first six

months.



According to Peter Gilson, the managing director of the London office, a

brand ing solution could help companies through the current tough

economic climate."Building brands and sustaining brand loyalty, both

online and offline, is never more important than in times of impending

recession.



We believe that, in the long-term, clients do not benefit from the 'one-

stop shop' approach that web design or advertising agencies may offer to

brand strategy.



"Companies wanting to build successful brands, whether online, offline

or across multi-channels should engage brand experts." Clients include

ABN AMRO, American Express and Vodafone.



THE PARTNERS



The Partners is a graphic design and branding agency that was acquired

by Young & Rubicam last year.



Founded in 1983, The Partners believes that great branding is

fundamentally a creative process and therefore focuses on the craft and

design elements of the process. According to Gareth Williams, a strategy

partner at The Partners, branding can create fresh opportunities for

businesses. "The real power and value of creative ideas is that,

sometimes, they can open up a whole world of possibilities that lay

invisible within strategic planning." He continues: "We have

consistently performed well in the league tables for branding

consultancies over the past 15 years. That's because we put so much

thought into what we believe the real issue is for the client before we

think of solutions. The mistake is to think that you have an either/or

between creativity and strategy. Without great thinking about the task,

you simply don't get great creative work." The Partners remains bullish

about its offering despite having made redundancies in September.

"Consultancies and agencies are generally far more professional and

better run as commercial organisations," Williams says.



"Design companies especially have reached deeper into the client

organisation and their business planning to become much more capable

advisors on more than just design. However, at its heart, this is a

creative industry and that hasn't changed at all, and that's why

management consultancies can't compete with us."



Clients include Boddingtons Bitter, Harrods, KLM (UK), Tanner Krolle,

Telstra,Warner Bros and Wedgwood.



WOLFF-OLINS



Founded in London by Wally Olins and Michael Wolff in 1965, Wolff-Olins

focuses on the corporate market. By the end of the 60s, the

multi-disciplinary design consultancy was instrumental in establishing

corporate identity on the business map. Throughout the 90s it expanded

to become one of the world's most significant corporate/branding

identity specialists and earlier this year was snapped up by the

advertising heavyweight, Omnicom, which also owns Interbrand. It now has

offices in London, Madrid, Lisbon, New York, San Francisco and

Tokyo.



According to the company's managing director, Charles Wright, a strong

brand identity has become crucial to the success of a business. "We all

know that the power has shifted towards the consumers and they no longer

want to buy into just a product; they want to buy into an idea. Products

and services are becoming increasingly similar. It's incredibly easy for

one company to copy another's advantage.



"The ability to differentiate can mean the difference between a company

thriving and surviving. In order to stand out, an organisation needs a

core purpose; an idea. We created the Bovis identity (the hummingbird)

in 1973 and, 30 years later, with updates, it still works." He adds that

the business was sold to Omnicom in order to allow it to pursue a global

strategy. "We wanted to join up with an organisation that would help us

grow internationally but also allow us complete autonomy. It is vital

that we are seen as part of a group and not as a subsidiary or dependent

of an ad agency. We want to be seen as working alongside them."



Wolff-Olins made redundancies in September because of the "fragile"

economy.



Clients include 3i, BT, Credit Suisse, Goldfish, Orange, Tate and Tesco.



Topics