Franklin Ozekhome and his small agency dabble in the world of multinationals and superbrands.
Franklin Ozekhome is a strategic planner, trendspotter and student of culture and brands. He is the chief strategy officer at Identiture, a New York-based sensory branding and future design firm that offers business intelligence, strategic planning and sensory mapping services to small businesses. Follow his rants on Twitter @donniefranklin or contact him at www.franklinozekhome.com.
Franklin Ozekhome is a strategic planner, trendspotter and student of culture and brands. He is the chief strategy officer at Identiture, a New York-based sensory branding and future design firm that offers business intelligence, strategic planning and sensory mapping services to small businesses. A leading authority and keynote speaker on brand marketing, consumer trends, and Nigerian marketnomics, he was recently nominated by The Future Awards as 2010 Business Professional of the Year. Ozekhome previously held senior roles at InsightGrey and McCann Erickson, and has spent over a decade advising leading companies and brands. Follow his rants on Twitter @donniefranklin and @tantrums or contact him at www.franklinozekhome.com.
During the past year, I have been fortunate to meet with some of the most brilliant men and women in the topsy-turvy world of advertising. Especially interesting are the one-on-one chats I usually have with agency principals, creative directors, and small business owners, who have gone on to set up their own companies after experiencing the "hallowed" halls of major advertising firms.
As an entrepreneur (coupled with daily hobbies as strategy advisor and trend hunter), my interest goes beyond the creative aspects of the ad world; rather, I find myself intrigued with the innovative business models adopted by these new CEOs in setting up their businesses. Specifically, those models that creatively utilize the minimalist approach. And it is a recurring trend among start-ups and new businesses that I encountered in Amsterdam, London, New York, Zurich, Lagos, Copenhagen and Cape Town.
I call it the 'Lean-Mean' business-working model. It is divided into two parts.
The first part is the virtual space: This pertains to former ad execs leaving bigger agencies to set up their own companies, with little more than Apple Macs in tow.
A lot of the new consultancies and agencies now handling million-dollar businesses in the US, Western Europe, and Asia usually have the founder as the only employee. Sometimes, there is a partner and co-creative director, or even a silent investor lurking somewhere. However, one person handles the bulk of the day-to-day activities. Other aspects of the business are delegated to contract staff, interns, project managers, and freelancers, who work on a project-by-project basis. Once a project or assignment is completed, the virtual band is disbanded until something new comes along.
This new hybrid of CEOs register their companies, equip their Macs + iPads with online business tools, cloud computing and apps; pay annual fees to private clubs like Soho House and Norwood, which in turn, provide meeting and dining rooms, reception, restaurants and bars - all important business networking tools for the upwardly-mobile entrepreneur. Sometimes, rent-free creative spaces like WixLounge in New York and Urban Station in Buenos Aires are preferred. Both provide broadband internet, wifi, workstations, comfortable seating, and plenty of opportunities for working, networking and collaboration.
The second aspect of the 'Lean-Mean' business model is virtual networking. This entails crowd-sourcing, collaboration, and co-creation on projects over social networking sites and virtual labs. Business owners are very careful in selecting likeminded individuals and companies that have planning, technical and creative expertise/resources to assist them in successfully completing important assignments and briefs.
These days, clients do not seem to mind if an agency vying for a piece of their business admits to operating a virtual office. The key thing for them is simply the ideas that are being brought to the table and can the agencies deliver when push comes to shove?
In the past, some brand marketers would not even consider looking at creative shops that did not have a global network or affiliation. That meant physical office spaces spread across key markets like Asia, Europe, and North America. The new currency for global network and reach in the digital age is simply your LinkedIn and Blackberry contacts, and professional group networks.
Fact: A business-savvy agency with a 10-man team in Rio de Janeiro can pitch and win a global account based in London without the client insisting that the agency have a base in the UK as a prerequisite for consideration. Of course, whatever happens after winning the account is an entirely different thing.
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