Traditionally Branding was broadcast, now it’s a conversation…
‘The Someone team appears to have its finger on the pulse of branding...’
24 March 2011 — Design Week Editor Lynda Relph-Knight interviewed the three founders of SomeOne… here’s what she said…
“One of the more interesting aspects of straitened times is the way creative businesses respond. It is not just a case of drawing in the horns and trying even harder to help clients. It is about doing things differently.
This is the case with branding group Someone. With projects as big and diverse as, say, Betfair, Eurostar and the National Maritime Museum, the consultancy isn’t suffering like others from dwindling workloads, but its forthright approach is refreshingly different, reflecting the diversity of the partners’ backgrounds.
The launch of digital arm Someone Else builds on this. Someone isn’t the only consultancy to bring in a senior player to head up a digital team that works with or independently of the main group, depending on the project. But by appointing Warren Hutchinson from ad agency LBI, Someone has added another kind of creative to the mix.
This diversity reflects the blurring between advertising and design and seemingly enriches Someone’s offer. Certainly, there is a confidence about the partners reminiscent of adland and their point of view differs from that of most branding groups. They are respectful of clients but not afraid of them, and keen to engage with stakeholders throughout the branding process.
The Someone team appears to have its finger on the pulse of branding. Whether or not you agree with Simon Manchipp’s assertion that the logo is dead, for example, you have to admire him for voicing it. More pertinent, perhaps, is his observation that brand communication now is more about ‘chatting’ than ‘broadcasting’.
Someone isn’t the only interesting consultancy out there. Far from it. But it would be great to see more groups setting their own agenda and backing it with great work.”
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You may have boggled at the design credit ‘Someone did the branding and All of Us handled the website’. Such is the way with consultancy names. But the team behind the seemingly self-effacing Someone is one of the most creative to be had in an area of design that too often fosters mediocrity.
Someone’s appeal is manifest in a burgeoning client list ranging from big business to entrepreneurial concerns. Set up five years ago by designers David Law, Simon Manchipp – staunch advocate of the notion that ‘the logo is dead’ – and Gary Holt, it already boasts a portfolio including pictograms for the 2012 London Olympics and clients including Proctor & Gamble, Mick Jagger, Philippe Starck’s Yoo luxury interiors and residential brand and diamond company Dimexon, as well as country hotels such as Heckfield Place in Hampshire.
But 2011 promises to be Someone’s year. Next week sees the launch of a comprehensive rebranding of Eurostar, with branding for online betting concern Betfair and the National Maritime Museum to follow.
While Someone is relatively ‘young’, its partners are old hands in design. Law and Manchipp met at Central St Martins College of Art and Design, before setting out on careers, respectively, with Thomas Manss and Coley Porter Bell, and Identica and ad agency HHCL. They then came together as No-one, a design team within HHCL, until the parent agency ‘debunked’.
Holt, meanwhile, worked with Martin Lambie-Nairn for clients such as telecoms group 02. He and Manchipp met in 2005 as Design Week Awards judges and he shared space with No-one when he went solo. A merger to form Someone was ‘a natural development’, he says.
What characterises Someone is its approach. The trio bring together pure design, branding and advertising and says the networks they have built help to cross-fertilise the work. ‘The more you give a brand the better,’ says Law, outlining the consultancy’s mindset when entering any project.
‘Someone is in the business of ‘managing change’,’ says Holt. This starts with engaging stakeholders and establishing a tone of voice ‘before you pick up a pencil’, he says. Every proposal includes a ‘migration process’ to embed the branding and a stakeholder presentation. It’s about ‘immersion, involvement and inclusion’.
Manchipp adds, ‘The old way of doing branding was broadcast, now it’s conversation. We’re chatty and we expect the brand to be quite chatty at the end.’
The aim, says Manchipp, is to do great work, to have some fun and to make money to ensure it can do the first two. Though clients often applaud Someone’s ‘strategic approach’, the partners maintain it doesn’t have one, but responds to each project as it comes. They talk of the ‘quality of the relationship’ among themselves, with the team and various collaborators – and with their clients.
‘Our new business machine involves picking up a phone [to take an incoming call],’ says Manchipp. This was the case with Eurostar and the Maritime Museum, for example. ‘We’re in the business of managing other people’s reputations, so we’re acutely aware of our own,’ he explains.
Quality runs not just through the work, but also in the way it is handled. There are always two partners on each project, though one invariably takes a lead, and ideas come from anywhere within the consultancy – which varies from 15-20 people depending on workload.
Someone is known for collaborating with other creative groups such as All of Us and Fray. It is, though, diversifying and has made its first foray into digital design with Someone Else – an interactive offshoot, run by former LBI director Warren Hutchinson. ‘The word of the moment is transmedia,’ says Manchipp, stressing that creative director Hutchinson ‘is not a website builder’. ‘It’s big-brand thinking’ – or ‘plussing’, as he and his partners describe their holistic approach to branding.
If, as Manchipp contends, the ‘brand world’ is replacing the logo, Someone is up to the challenge. ‘We come along with a series of opinions that flavour the agenda,’ Law concludes. It is no longer about prescriptive design.”
This article appeared previously in DesignWeek. www.DesignWeek.co.uk