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By Maddy Smith
Harnessing specialist strategic and execution skills to a strong culture of client service and sophisticated in-house technology, Branded is single-minded in its pursuit of better results for an already impressive client base.
Fast and Effective
“If I need to set up a studio in New York next week to support a client, I’ve got the backing and the capital to do that, without having to cut through all the red tape” – CEO of Branded, Jamie Richards
Client-focused, technology-driven and with a range of strategic, creative and production specialisms that come together to form a comprehensive end-to-end service offering, Branded is an independent creatively lead agency that CEO Jamie Richards says has “a proven track record of saving clients time and money”.
It is privately-owned, financially stable, with operations across the UK, as well as Hong Kong, India and on-site teams in the US. Its development has resulted from observing what clients really want from an integrated agency. “Customers are looking for rebrand launches and campaign execution to be as efficient as possible,” says Richards.
“Historically, when a typical brand owner needed to deliver a campaign, their agency roster would be segmented into an array of specialist agencies, which would naturally cause multiple handovers requiring considerable client time and management. We would often hear clients talking about duplication and time being lost”.
“We decided to pull all these parts together and offer that integrated solution. That’s what customers are looking for – efficiency and saving time and money but without compromising on quality. We will do that through an end-to-end deliverable that is controlled by one team and one technology.”
Independent and unified
The scale of Branded is noteworthy, with more than 350 full-time employees that can deliver a technology enabled, multi-channel, design to consumer offer. Its client portfolio is, says Richards, exemplary, incorporating businesses that range from global corporations and luxury brands to boutique businesses and discount retailers. It is a list that includes Walmart, Tesco, Amazon, Estée Lauder, LG, Kraft Heinz and
John Lewis to name a few. The group’s constituent parts, including Tier 1 (Creative) and Tier 2 (Adaptive Design) agencies and Tier 3 (Production) as well as technology arms, who can all work independently of each other where necessary, but are also able to come together and deliver the unified service proposition where appropriate and where a client will benefit.
And Richards is very clear that the challenges clients face, and the solutions and benefits that Branded can provide for them, are very much the driving force behind the whole group’s culture. “We are, and always will be, client-focused and are constantly viewing different scenarios and challenges, through a client lens. We put ourselves in their seat and think: how can we make the process from brief through to delivery as easy as possible for them?”
“Customers tell us that what we have is very strong and unique,” says Richards. “They appreciate our fluidity and agility, and they tell us that we are always there and ready to go the extra mile.” Agility and fluidity don’t just have to relate to day-to-day operations either. Compared to some competitors, Branded is able to respond very quickly to client needs. “If I need to set up a studio in New York next week to support a client, I’ve got the backing and the capital to do that, without having to cut through all the red tape,” says Richards.
“Indeed, our expansions into Hong Kong and India have been driven by client demands, namely them wanting us to have strategic hubs in those territories to help them with in-region challenges. Our on-site teams in the US are further examples of our model – moving swiftly in these cases by putting project management resources in place to work as an extension of our clients brand and marketing teams.”
In-house technology Branded prides itself upon the technology that it develops exclusively in-house. Richards emphasises that the technology is “integral and it underpins all we do”. Internally, this technology connects all Branded’s sites globally, allowing it to work with efficiency and flexibility. As an external offering, the technology gives clients a variety of solutions and intuitive online platforms, enabling
them to manage activity, workflow and approval processes much more easily.
“When you are dealing with big campaigns with multiple stakeholders and mass activity going back and forth, you’ve got to have a central online system that allows you to audit that process very quickly,” Richards continues. “Content or Digital Asset Management is another external tool we offer to customers: a centralised space for all their assets to be managed and distributed securely.
“We are always on the front foot when utilizing or developing technology to enable smarter ways of working, whether that’s applying automation or advanced process engineering to enhance efficiency and productivity. All of our teams are connected, therefore our Tech division aren’t working in isolation trying to second guess what’s needed, they already know and are able to build best-in-class technology
solutions that make tasks easier for all involved.
Branded’s stability means it can forge ahead with its strategic plans, while giving customers the reassurance and security of continued service provision. Richards says that the group’s growth will be aided by its reputation and track record, adding that the majority of its client relationships have started through word of mouth and reputation alone.
He says: “Our client retention rate is second to none and that’s a powerful testament to our commitment and professionalism. We are a hardworking, united force who see ourselves as client partners, rather than client suppliers. We will continue to build on our strong foundations and diverse client portfolio through organic growth as well as tactical acquisitions in the UK and globally, particularly in the US. And we will remain focussed on developing our people and technology – if there’s a more efficient way of delivering, we’ll find it and share it.”
Branded – intelligent integration
The benefit for any customer is that BRANDED is a connected group of Branding, Packaging, Communication, Technology and Implementation specialists that provides the most effective route to market. With an enviable reputation for client service and multi award winning creativity, Branded’s capabilities feature across the UK, Hong Kong, India and the U.S. The group has longstanding relationships with many of the largest retailers and brands, and also has a track record of catapulting emerging brands and start-ups to success. Group expertise includes –
WMH&I – Strategic Design: London-based agency that invents and reinvents exceptional brands that can be endlessly amplified across multi-channel communications, including pack, store, motion and digital.
WMH&I Adaptive sits central to Branded’s creative brilliance and market-leading multi-channel implementation. Although effective as a stand-alone solution, the benefits of Adaptive come into their own when part of a truly integrated offer.
STUDIO4 – an image creation studio housing industry-leading photographers, post-production, motion and CGI, who create memorable, multi-channel imagery across Food, Drink, Fashion, Luxury, Still Life, Lifestyle and Location. All with full usage rights included.
Magnet Harlequin – Multi-Channel Production division providing Artwork, Repro, Print,
In-store, Account and Process Management, with specialism in Non-Food Packaging. Recognised by many in the sector as being a leader in its field.
Technik – Multi-Channel Production division providing Artwork, Repro, Print and Print Management, Account and Process Management with specialism in Food Packaging. Again, recognised by many in the sector as being a leader in its field.
magLabs – provides technology via three delivery streams: MarTech, including bespoke and SaaS based solutions, plus conventional Digital offer which covers the full spectrum of online, mobile and app delivery.
Global Brand Control (GBC) is a unique service proposition designed to monitor, measure and record the performance of your brand throughout the graphic production process, from design to print, including auditing the brand in-store.
Jamie Richards is Chief Executive Officer at Branded