Big­ger can be bet­ter for creativ­ity

Greg Quin­ton, chief cre­ative of­fi­cer at The Part­ners, ar­gues that larger agen­cies have many ad­van­tages

Computer Arts - - Greg Quinton - Does size mat­ter? Tweet your thoughts to @Com­put­erArts us­ing #De­signMat­ters

The Part­ners is soon to be part of WPP’s su­per-agency, along with Brand Union, Lam­bie-Nairn, Ad­di­son Group and VBAT. But to be hon­est, I’ve never been sure why peo­ple worry so much about the size of agen­cies.

‘What’ we do is fun­da­men­tally the same; we all try our best to solve our clients’ prob­lems. ‘How’ we do it varies a lit­tle, but the real vari­able is the ‘why’ – and that has noth­ing at all to do with size, but rather at­ti­tude and am­bi­tion.

As a con­trol freak (all cre­ative di­rec­tors are), I re­ally do un­der­stand the at­trac­tion of small-scale. If I was a purist graphic de­signer, I’d en­joy the level of de­tail in­volved. But I’m not the usual graphic de­signer any more.

What ex­cites me now is all to do with scale. You get in­volved in the busi­ness at the core and help with the fun­da­men­tals. Then, work­ing higher with the most se­nior staff, you di­rectly af­fect change that goes wider. Creativ­ity is the tool for change, and it goes from the big idea at the top to the tini­est of de­tails at the bot­tom.


We ap­ply the same ap­proach to clients of all sizes. Sure, be­ing a big­ger agency does at­tract big brands as they ob­vi­ously need the re­as­sur­ance of work­ing with peo­ple who un­der­stand the im­pli­ca­tions of scale, ge­og­ra­phy and lo­calisms. But in ad­di­tion, client con­fi­dence is grow­ing and it’s won­der­ful to see braver creativ­ity be­ing de­manded. Those are the mo­ments we do this for: whether it’s for global, na­tional, lo­cal, big busi­ness, arts or char­ity, scale gives us the abil­ity and cred­i­bil­ity to help them all. We are mak­ing a real and pos­i­tive dif­fer­ence through some­thing that we love: creativ­ity.

The chal­lenge is to al­ways fo­cus on the so­lu­tion (and by the way, the an­swer is al­ways in the prob­lem), and re­mem­ber that our clients (brands) are peo­ple, and that they need to com­mu­ni­cate with other peo­ple (the au­di­ence). Do that right and the work feels em­pathic, and per­sonal. Truly great work touches the soul, drives in­ter­est in the brands, and con­se­quently in­ter­est in the agency that cre­ates the work; great work truly is the best new busi­ness tool you can have.


Our new com­pany is in­cred­i­bly ex­cit­ing. We have a net­work of 750 peo­ple in 20 of­fices around the world, ap­peal­ing to more clients be­cause they’ll be able to en­gage with a wider ar­ray of spe­cial­ists and a more con­nected set of ser­vices. With the reper­cus­sions of Brexit and the threat of an­other recession, you need to be a flex­i­ble agency to change and adapt to clients’ needs more eas­ily, and be­ing big­ger means you can do this without im­pact­ing the qual­ity of work or de­sign­ers’ time.

De­sign­ers like to see the di­rect con­se­quence of their work. When they first start out it’s the the pride of the first print, the first award and the first happy client. As that be­comes rou­tine, most de­sign­ers like do­ing more, af­fect­ing more and help­ing more.

There is noth­ing worse than a bored de­signer, but if you’re an agency of scale, the num­ber of projects and teams that tal­ented peo­ple can move be­tween is greater. That’s what you want to fa­cil­i­tate – the flow of ideas across a wide range of work.

Mean­while, the cre­ative in­dus­try as a whole is grow­ing in the UK, which is a great sign for small and large agen­cies alike; it means more clients are look­ing to solve busi­ness chal­lenges with cre­ative so­lu­tions. But it’s im­por­tant to look be­yond that and work out how an agency can har­ness cur­rent mo­men­tum and carry it into other mar­kets.

If you cre­ate an en­vi­ron­ment for de­sign­ers where they are work­ing with peo­ple from all cor­ners of the globe, you’re go­ing to cre­ate more in­ter­est­ing and rel­e­vant work as a re­sult. We’re de­sign­ing for clients that have con­sumers around the world, so it’s im­por­tant that we embed our­selves in those lo­ca­tions – big agen­cies must have a global per­spec­tive with a lo­cal un­der­stand­ing.

An­other el­e­ment that comes with be­ing big­ger is the op­por­tu­nity to say no. It’s re­ally im­por­tant that the de­sign in­dus­try makes a con­scious ef­fort to al­ways cre­ate work that is in line with the prin­ci­ples we value.


Don’t get me wrong, craft­ing to a con­sis­tently high stan­dard at scale is not a walk in the park – it takes a lot of ef­fort, and cre­ative man­age­ment of in­di­vid­u­als and teams, to make sure your out­put is al­ways am­bi­tious and ground-break­ing, while also do­ing the seem­ingly im­pos­si­ble of re­main­ing per­sonal and rel­e­vant to the client. But if it was easy, it wouldn’t be worth it. Fancy be­ing part of it?

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