Luke van O, managing director of Saffron Brand Consultants in Australia, has announced the creation of a new consultancy to take the place of Saffron’s presence in the region.
The new company will maintain the client relationships established since Saffron entered the Australian market in 2015, with a plan to upend the top-tier of brand consulting dominated by large, group-owned consultancies Interbrand, FutureBrand and Landor, and will continue on in its Richmond home.
According to van O, it’s the success of the venture that led to the decision to separate.
“Saffron and VAN O maintain close ties and are excited by the prospect of working together in the future,” he said.
“From my perspective as founder/MD, it’s fantastic to be in a position where we can still turn to the incomparable expertise and intelligence of some of Saffron when our clients have the opportunity to look abroad, while being free to build the local business so it perfectly fits the needs of our clients here.
“This includes moving upstream into business model generation, and bringing in additional creative specialisms to ensure everything that needs to be brand-led is in fact so.”
VAN O is positioning itself to compete directly with its large competitors, while maintaining a low headcount.
“We will cap out about 10 to 12 people. This’s all that’s needed to run multiple large projects simultaneously, and do so competitively,” van O said.
“I’ve always believed it’s the clients who end up paying for the inefficiencies and bureaucracy under which the large, group-owned marketing services consultancies suffer.
“Branding is an afterthought to their publicly-listed owners due to the size of the spends, and the region is an afterthought due to the markets’ relative size and the tyranny of distance. Put these two issues together and you end up with creative enterprises where the important decisions are ultimately made by the accountants.”
VAN O will continue to provide strategic brand consulting services focused around market positioning and identity systems, while also developing capability in business model generation – taking the principles of design into the domain of the traditional management consultants.
The new consulting brand is collaborating with Derek Samuel (formerly of FutureBrand, Designworks, Frost and Landor) in the capacity of creative director, and has appointed Lauren Hintz (formerly with Designworks) as project manager and strategist, with Zoe Moskovic as junior designer.