Welcome to our list of 50 of the top award winning design agencies in the UK. Check them out for inspiration, there may be a specific type of design agency you are looking for.
This list of recommended design agencies pack a huge amount of creative punch between them, the tally was conceived and composed to showcase the best of talent in the UK. All entries are alphabetically listed and not ranked in anyway against each other.
The imaginative design agencies illustrated are hand picked from thousands of others from global awards networks, written up with a concise synopsis for you. Our aim for this article is that you might also consider us to work on your next project, to see our capabilities please take a look at our portfolio:
If you don't see the right agency listed and are looking for in a specific type of agency, look at the:
Barnbrook, or the studio of the designer and fontographer Jonathan Barnbrook has been entered on this list as he is one of the living legends of modern design and has archives of work stretching back to 1992 that will still stand up to the standards of todays digitally created design, his contribution has been recognised in a major exhibition at the Design Museum in London.
The Barnbrook studio under his leadership continues to output amazing creative that is destined for future honours by the design industry.
Again this next consultancy does not need any way of introduction, Bibliothéque are beyond good in that they are invited to judge some awards and not just enter them, also appearing in design industry publications, lectures / talks on design and have even featured in exhibitions. Their website is a stunning modern (typo)graphic portfolio that has meticulous attention to detail.
Bray Leino has been around for 40 years after being founded in Devon and is now a top 20 UK design company with 3 offices, no agency can become that big without winning numerous creative awards (so much so that they have to support over 300 full time staff).
This great creative attracts the big clients, Bray Leino have work coming in from the Government (2011 Census, Smokefree and Sustrans), BP, Castrol, Wrigley, Legal & General, Virgin Media, RNLI and Axa as well as marginally smaller brands of: Freederm, Thatchers, Norton, Dentyl Active, Ecover, WKD, Shloer, Superdry, Danepak, Olbas, Covonia and Tribute – for which they still apply the same distinct creative attention to detail that the bigger blue chips attract.
Bray Leino is now part of The Mission Marketing Group (The Mission), you know they are certainly on a mission, so try and prove me wrong...
Where there is muck, there's brass! Or is there, I very much doubt that much muck sticks to these guys as they are quite polished (very much the same as their awards). Brass is an agency grounded in traditional marketing but with digital thinking at the heart. So which are they? An integrated or a digital agency? Well Brass like to think of themselves as being 'integral', I guess that means they are integral for their clients businesses by 'bringing real business benefits' from their creative.
We look at the multiple award wins on their list including: a D&AD Yellow Pencil, voted Online Agency of the Year at the GRAMIA Awards, some IPM Awards, CIPR PRide Awards and a New Media Age Effectiveness Award, 'take a quick pause for breath' as they have also notched up some Clio Awards, a couple of Design Week Awards and even have a few Roses (which haven't wilted yet). Phew, lets look out for some even bigger things to come from this merged agency.
Let's cut to the chase, the amount of awards this agency has achieved is probably enough to fill an entire design studio, where do they fit in time to do the work between picking up their awards I wonder?? The Chase is ranked the 1st most creative agency in the UK by Design Week in 2013 and is now one of an elite band of companies to have had work accepted by D&AD in each of its 18 years of existence, how is that for special? Not sure I can take in the 20 second overview though, too quick for even my brain, and their client list is hilariously long too.
They have won awards from:
I'd like to try and point out some work of note that I would like you to look at but I really cannot decide which ones, so check out all of it! I want a job there!
As well as being an excellent multi-disciplined agency, Cartlidge Levene excel in way-finding and signage design, they are one of the undoubted world leaders. The signage systems that CL design are sublime and it shows in the awards that they have won for them: including awards from Creative Review, some Design Week Awards, ISTD Premier Awards for way-finding, environmental graphics and identities, multiple D&ADs for Signage & Information Graphics and lastly some SDS Awards.
Multiple award wins have arisen from the Selfridges, V&A, Barbican and Guardian Building signage systems, their awards page is a list and you couldn't fit that on a single sign :-)
I am impressed with the intelligent way they go about interpreting the three dimensional space around them to simplify the wayfaring systems down to their sole purpose, to get people where they want to go with the minimum amount of confusion.
But don't forget, they are not just about signs as they have still won other awards for their multi-discipline design skills too, such as: another D&AD for graphic design, 'Best in Book' for visual communication design by the Creative Review Annual. If you need to find your way, follow the link and take a look at them. Alternatively you could also look at appliedwayfinding.com
Not strictly a predominantly graphics based design agency in the way this list is intended but Conran and Partners still deserve a mention none-the-less as they still do graphics as well as the mainstays of product, brand, interior and architecture.)
Design work of note includes Typhoo branding, a series of special Gordon’s Gin bottles which won a Design Week Award and Manx Telecom which won a Silver DBA Design Effectiveness Award in 2014. Above all, these guys will have a go at redesigning and re-inventing anything or everything you want, from a camera to a building, products and even the inside of a yacht!)
Their work is driven by Sir Terence Conran’s philosophy: that good design can improve the quality of people’s lives, I'll certainly drink to that :-)
Whatever your reason is for viewing this article, you are more than likely to be interested in good design of some sort or other. So as I a designer you can appreciate cross fertilisation of ideas from one discipline to another, and as a company then maybe you have some ideas for re-designing a product, or better still you have an idea in incubation that you just don't know how to progress… Well the guys at DCA can help stimulate either of your requirements as they are the biggest product design agency in the UK, truly inspirational and award winning. Check out their site as it is massive with great case studies and insights.
We thought that it was only fair that having researched thousands of studios to bring you this article on the top 50 award winning design agencies, that we’d insert a cheeky little advert for ourselves – Design Intellect.
Design Intellect are a nimble boutique design agency that have been around the block and back, we’ve been going strong since 2003. We combine small agency focus with big agency thinking to provide a complete range of branding, design for print, packaging, web design and strategic services to clients over a wide range of business sectors. We love working with businesses to help bring their communications to life, drive growth and deliver beautiful thought-provoking design solutions with the perfect blend of creativity and effectiveness. We are down-to-earth, friendly, approachable and efficient.
We work with marketers, marketing departments and individuals to provide all the creative services they need. No job is too big and no job is too small, we have experience in working with huge blue-chip clients and we have also worked with 100s of smaller clients on a wide range of projects – from small artwork jobs to larger projects encompassing branding, print and web.
Whomever we work with, we apply the same level of creativity, attention to detail and passion on their project to make the marketing material look awesome and work hard.
Now the question is – does their design work? Of course it does as Designwerk are ranked as one of the ten best creative agencies in the United Kingdom. Why are they ranked so high, well they have won many Transform Awards, A'Design Awards, Hermes Creative Awards, Marcom Awards and IDA Awards – and that's just in the last 3 years alone. They take brands into the public arena across the entire spectrum of communications media to deliver the most engaging experience that simply 'werks'.
I'm loving the work for the America's Cup, work for UEFA and FIM Superbike World Championship. Seems like they like their sports clients, lets see if you like their game?
Fitch is almost a brand in itself within the design industry, they aim to influence the world around us, translating a brand into a consumer experience through the power of influence. Fitch sets out to influence the world around us for the better by designing solutions that meet consumer needs and desires, they design for the masses and not the few – their work is all around us. How do they do that you ask? Well Fitch try to put themselves in the place of the consumer and design experiences that meet their needs, by putting the consumers needs at the heart of everything they do, they create consumer experiences that fire the imagination, tap into hidden desires, heighten aspirations and put consumers in control of the choices they make.
Fitch has won design awards across all disciples, from retail interiors to product, and from packaging to marketing, here are just a few of their awards: 10+ VM&RD Retail Design Awards, Marketing Design Awards, 50+ IDEA awards, GOOD DESIGN Awards, Design Week Awards and an Addy or three.
Work of note from over 120 of their clients include: Vodafone, Boeing, Nokia, HSBC and McLaren.
From a studio of only 12 (at the time of writing), GBH have won so many awards its amazing: at least 37 and counting… GBH has consistently been ranked within the ten most creative UK Design agencies since the company’s foundation in 1999 and includes award winning work for Puma, they we even asked to design the 40th Annual for the D&AD, they are that good. GBH's clients include The Royal Mail, Puma, Virgin Galactic, Philip Stark, Eurostar, Football Italia and even Ferrari. I don't think there is any room for writing my usual puns on this one :-)
Well, what can I say here, time for a bad gag again me thinks, these guys really pull the rabbit out of the hat each time they design something (sorry), they kind of deserved a pun on their name as that's probably the intended idea behind their name... Yes I know back to the point at hand, award winning design agencies.
Ranked as high as Number 1, Numero Uno in the Design Week Creative UK survey 2010 but unfortunately dropping to No.13 in 2012 due to the introduction of new awards categories. Their website has an interesting navigation for potential clients to look at, it has presentations for any given period of time that the viewer has to spare, a neat idea pulled from the hat again :-). Awards include D&ADs, Design Weeks, and Benchmarks Best in Show.
Havas as a worldwide group are pretty darn big so one would have expected them to have won an award or two in their time, well they hav(e)as well: Advertising Age's Global Marketers Report had rated them the Largest Global Advertising Agency for five years in a row, Campaign also named them the same during one year – Adweek named Havas Worldwide as one of the top three Advertising Agencies of the Decade, and the GUNN Report named Havas Worldwide as the 2nd “Most Awarded Network of the Decade' back in 2011.
When I said large I meant it, as the full Havas Worldwide network is made up of 11,000 employees in 316 offices in 120 cities and 75 countries. The UK office being a particularly strong creative arm and has won a 'TED' which makes it's 'ideas worth spreading', other awards range from D&ADs and Cannes Lions with others spread in-between. When trying to find which part of the group is right for you though, you might have a little trouble tracking the right contact down, be it in on: havaskx.com/our-agencies
Especially as these are just some of the hundreds of Havas business websites, their strapline of 'a uniquely integrated agency' doesn't really match how the business is structured :-)
In the same light as Conran & Partners, this isn't a strictly graphics based design agency in the way my list is intended, multi award winning Ideo* definitely deserve a mention as their design ethos can or should be an inspiration to us all. Ideo apply a human-centered design based approach to helping organisations innovate and grow, we should all take this method on board as a designer, marketer or senior board member. Their about page has a beautiful description of the unique way in which they work.
They help existing businesses and entrepreneurs envision new companies and brands: designing product, services, spaces, and interactive experiences to bring ideas to life. Ideo can build a creative culture for your employees and the internal systems required to facilitate sustainable innovation to launch new ventures. Don't believe me? Then take a look at their overwhelming array of case studies that will help inspire and invigorate any aspect of your business regardless of it either flourishing or floundering...
* Winner of 38 Red Dot awards, 28 iF Hannover awards, and more IDEA awards than any other design firm, period.
Imagination are the UK's leading design agency or at least they are when you take turnover into account, but then that isn't surprising when they are one of the few independent agencies with 16 offices spread all over the world, so their accounts will stack up!
At least they have also stacked up a pile of award wins too, Imagination are an exceptional design agency and recent accolades include: Brand Experience award for the Samsung sponsorship of the Beijing Olympics, 3Ex awards for oneworld, Ford and TOT, Creative Event Agency of the year – BBC Sports Personality of the Year Event and the Launch of the Ford Fiesta in Barcelona, 2 ICVA awards (including the Global Achievement award) and a DBA Effectiveness Award in 2014.
Look out for their stunning work on Mazda, oneworld, Ford, Shell, Jaguar, Harrods and the integrated campaigns for Sony. As we say down here in the South West, they are all 'gurt lush!'.
An oldie here, Interbrand started in branding when the world still thought of brands as just another word for logo :-) And yes, I know they are massive (40+ offices) but they are not interested in just being the world's biggest brand consultancy, they want to be the most valued, after all they were the ones that changed the world's view of branding and brand management by creating brands and managing them into valuable business assets.
Sales spiel over, now lets get down to the nitty gritty, what have the won or done? Well, you know McDonalds, that's them, HSBC? them too, Bing, Samsung, 3M, Barclays, HP, Mercedes, AT&T? also them, see what I mean, you know who the brands and you know that Interbrand have certainly done their job.
Awards include: loads of REBRAND Awards, Super Design Awards, Communication Arts Awards, AGDA Awards, Creativity International Awards, Transform Awards, Inova Awards, Agency of the Year by Marketing Magazine, RETA Award, Red Dot Award, ARC, LACP, Topcom, Cropak, Gute Gestaltung (whatever that is?), RGD, DDI and Benchmark Awards... Tell you what, my fingers are getting tired, hope you got the gist of how good they are :-)
On their website is a great rundown of the best global brands, Oh and check out the client list, it's longer than most of all of our arms (and probably legs).
Johnson Banks has been in business for nearly twenty years, and is headed up by Michael Johnson (who has been cited as one of the most notable British Designers by the Guardian and Independent, and has been featured in Design Week’s ‘Hot 50’ list of prominent design figures 3 times). As an agency they search for the most unusual and interesting problems to solve in the most unusual and interesting way. JB have become well known for this and are sought after by clients who approach them with the same interesting projects to solve.
This has led JB as a company to hold eight D&AD Pencils, 13 Design Week Awards and four cubes from the New York Art Directors Club amongst many others, it also has dozens of it's designs in the V&A’s permanent collection.
Look out for great work on Save the Children, More than, Think London, Shelter, The British Film Institute, The Science Museum and my personal favourite – the re-branding of Ravensbourne. There is also a great selection of printed stuff where the paper engineering is amazing, top marks from me!!
Landor are the mother of all branding agencies, their founder 'Walter Landor' helped to invent branding and they have been re-inventing it ever since. Landor have more than six decades of experience with the world's most successful brands – a legacy that benefits their clients every day. It's amazing that their design archives are not in a basement but are displayed in the Smithsonian Institute. The historical brands that they have been a major part of include Coca-Cola, Levis, WWF, FedEx and Bank of America. Their massive list of current branding work (305 case studies and counting) includes: Alcatel, Alfa Romeo, Avaya, Blackberry, BP, Citroen, Heinz, HP and Panasonic. You can guess that their awards list is too massive to go into detail here, it would be enough to fill a whole website.
Around the world, Landor clients are upending the standard approach to doing business. It used to be: build products first and build brands later. The Landor strategy is just the opposite: start with your brand promise and lead with it. Turn the brand into the driver of your business not just another way of packaging it. Landor are simply amazing.
We have another design giant here, Leo Burnett WW was ranked as the 4th Most Awarded Agency Networks in the World according to the 2012 Gunn Report. After that massive applaud, what can I say? or indeed need to say as the awards statistics certainly speak for themselves, so lets have a quick look at some historical awards (please take a deep breath as this list is going to involve some big numbers):
40+ ANDYs from the Advertising Club of New York, 151+ Lions from the International Cannes Advertising Festival, 84+ CLIOs, 6 Yellow Pencils and 1 Black Pencil from the D&AD (and 67 In-book), 51+ Eurobest Awards, 24+ Awards from the Art Directors Club of New York, 84+ Adfest Awards from the Asia-Pacific region and 159+ FIAP Awards (Latin American awards from The Ibero American Advertising Festival).
Yes but I hear you say... 'the wins above are older awards and an agency is only as good as their recent wins surely?' Well, as you know I update these article on a regular basis (or at least as much as I can as I have to make a living), so here is an update to add to the above of just some of their other recent wins:
Like I said, what can I say? Leo Burnett claim that their purpose is to be the world's best creator of ideas that truly move people, bar none. It seems they do that. Please take a look at Leo Burnett's beautiful portfolio of work, you could spend days looking through it in amazement. The London arm also has it's own website: www.leoburnett.co.uk
A relatively new kid on the block is beginning to fly up high in the design industry and is already ranked 6th in the UK by Design week in it's 2013 creative survey. Among the shiny things it has picked up are Gold Cannes Lions for Channel 4Seven, it has won design week awards as well as being invited to judge them, Creative Circle Awards, Multiple Graphis Three Carat Awards and some Roses (not Cadburys ones).
How are they doing this, well Magpie have a simple approach: listen - understand - solve. I like that and their way shows it works too: the Channel 4 and 4Seven work is ace, as is work for Robert Horne, the D&AD, Royal Mail, the British Heart Foundation and Knight Frank.
The internationally renowned designer, typographer, art director and brand strategist Neville Brody set up Research Studios in 1994 and was renamed Brody Associates in 2014. BA is now a multi-disciplinary creative network with 6 offices and delivers evolutionary and groundbreaking design to meet any clients’ needs. From one-off commissions to comprehensive visual communication strategies, they provide a deep and diverse skill set that has a naturally inquisitive methodology and an appetite for excellence in visual communication.
Nucleus is a bit of a unique one here, not only are they a brand and digital consultancy for international clients (large banks, holiday companies and posh hotels) but also practise what they preach by having launched their own business venture using their knowledge of branding, technology and IP. This came about after they looked after the Oyster Card customer portal for London Transport, Nucleus then launched a technologically similar pre-paid cashless card – the sQuid, which is a a contact-less eMoney smart card for use in campuses and retail locations across the UK.
Design award wise, they are a 4x DBA Design Effectiveness Winner and have also won some top end travel industry awards for posh hotel websites which includes: Claridges, the Connaught and the Berkeley in the form of 5x Travolution awards. Their tally also includes a couple of Davey Awards, a Transform Award and showing their digital prowess, Nucleus also has 10 W3 Awards and is a double honouree. Oh and before I forget let's chuck in a couple of packaging awards to boot.
Notable work includes: repositioning Superdrug to compete with Boots, Launching First Direct, consulting with HSBC's on it's website, introducing a web portal for the Orient Express and web technology for Rothschild. Other clients include: AITO, ASDA, Britax, C&W, Dunhill, P&O Cruises, Teletext Holidays and the YHA.
Ogilvy have 450 offices in 169 cities worldwide*, that is BIG, so for a network of so many disciplines in so many countries, are they bound to have picked up an award or two? Darn right they have! I'm not going to go into them all because that would be ridiculous and the list would be as long as this entire article. A synopsis of the Oglivy Group's largest awards in the last year or so would be:
O&M are the CLIO Agency Network of the Year 2013
O&M was named Network of the Year for the second year in a row 2013 & 2012 at the Cannes Lions with 155 Lions – 4 Grand Prix (including Titanium & Integrated), 1 Creative Effectiveness Award, 37 Gold Lions, 46 Silver Lions & 67 Bronze Lions.
Effie Worldwide announced that O&M is the most effective agency network for the second consecutive year 2013 & 2012 where they were awarded 137 awards including 2 Grand/Platinum, 48 Gold, 63 Silver and 53 Bronze.
In the DMA Echo Awards OgilvyOne won 4 Gold, 13 Silver and 11 Bronze awards.
London International Awards (LIA) has announced that O&M is the 2013 Network of the Year for receiving 125 awards including one Grand LIA, 28 Gold Statues, 40 Silver Statues and 57 Bronze Statues.
*Oglivy & Mather have 9 agencies in the UK covering all disciplines
OMD… well what should I say about them? You are only as good as your last bit of work, right? Well I think this screen grab says it all really and they should change their name to OMG instead :-) Optimum Media Direction (OMD) only gained their first Gold Cannes Lion back in 1999 and since then they have been named: 'Global Agency of the Year' by Advertising Age in 2003, 2005 and 2009; 'Global Media Agency of the Year' by Adweek in 2006, 2009 and 2011; and the same by the Gunn Report in 2006 and 2007. Of course that is on top of the recent accolade of the most Awarded Global Media Network in the Cannes Lions, an amazing position to be after that initial win a mere 14 years ago.
The One-off isn't the biggest award winner here but they do feature in the Drum's Top 10 Design Agencies at a joint 7th on billings. The reason that they are in here is that they design everything very well and have great potential to win more awards. If you don't believe me then check out their interdisciplinary spectrum of work... clients include EE, Sky, Primark, Barclays, Samsung, the Design Council and loads of other lovely clients.
They are also an agency with a mantra that follows my own rules, they will use your design budget wisely and transparently. If they save you money, then they will tell you and offer it back… I'll give them a one-off award for that :-)
The mother of all design agencies! Pentagram is the world's largest independent design consultancy, run by 16 partners who are all leaders in their respective creative design disciplines. Wonder how many awards they have on their shelves, or should I say collapsed shelves, nope make that a library!
This site is wonderful, it's like an almanac of all the design projects you could wish to view, I could spend hours listing their projects and awards, instead, your better off looking for yourself, you could (will) spend hours on this site, so grab a drink of choice and enjoy! Oh, and if you think that moving the project scroller right, you reach the end, you don't, this goes on and on... I never reached the end, or was it the beginning? It probably is with these guys!
Bostock and Pollitt have now evolved into Pollitt & Partners after 28 years. Their new website doesn't really indicate their award winning heritage, but believe me they has won far more of them than their years in the business – the awards are mostly for literature design over the years but are moving into award winning digital too, more recent wins of a Design Week Award, D&AD Award and a DBA Design Effectiveness Award are just adding to the pile of their silverware in the cabinet.
Pollitt and Partners still retain a fixation on design excellence, captivating brand narrative, and creating compelling concepts that surprise and delight.
Projects to look for include The Institution of Cancer Research, Land Securities, Sassoon, and the WWF (aka not the wrestling).
Can you explain the purpose of your design please? Any agency or individual that has to explain their design hasn't done well, as good design should explain itself and not need any explanation at all.
Purpose use their communication and creative skills effectively to help clients communicate their brand with purpose so that they stand out and connect with the consumer, so much so that they are listed in the Design Week league table of the Top 10 Creative Award winning agencies at number 6, and that is as an independent too. Other Awards include: 15 Fresh Awards, 5 D&AD In-book, 6 Art Directors Club Awards, 3 Cream London Awards, 2 Roses Design Awards, an ISTD Award, 3 New York Festival Awards, 3 APA Awards, 2 actual Design Week Awards, 2 Benchmark Awards and finally a Robert Horne Shout Award. That is something to shout about, now do it with purpose and don't explain yourself...
Radley Yeldar's award list is another biggy, since 2001 they have won over 250 national and international prizes, ranging from IVCA Awards and Bafta nominations to D&AD and Design Week Awards. RY did post all of them online but had to slim it down to the last 3 years and put it on a pdf link to save blocking up the web with excess internet traffic :-) They are an incredibly decent marketing communications agency, or as they put it "a creative communications business that helps to tell your story simply and in one clear voice, by whatever means works best".
The section on their website: 'what we think' has some great download-able articles which are useful for both the design strategist and marketeer alike. Work wise, look out for literally everything as it all has its merits (...like bronze, silver or gold).
Is Rufus a cool name or more of a Dufus name? :-) What do you think? Certainly in terms of design they are cool, they played a part in rebranding BT for starters and with 2 RAR Gongs for the Best in Creativity / Innovation & Best in Digital, an IPA Effectiveness Award, 6th in Marketing Magazine's 'Review of the Year', Ranked number 9 in the B2B Marketing Agency League, No 2 in Design Week’s Top 20 Integrated Consultancies & 11th overall in their DW Top 100 (including 3rd in both ‘corporate branding’ and ‘digital design’), I guess we can say that Rufus are cool as they appear in the charts all over the place!
Make your own mind up about award winning Rufus Leonard by looking at their work for Lloyds Bank (a rebrand without TSB), the new website for Williams F1, John Lewis, O2 and Bank of Scotland (best rebrand at the Transform Awards). Ubër cool or what!!!
Speciality communications agency Saatchi Pro (formerly Masius) brought together the acknowledged expertise in business communications of Masius with the legendary creative strength of Saatchi & Saatchi. They are structured to offer strategic clarity, creative excellence and flawless delivery to clients of all kinds. Their strong creative ideas combined with dead smart execution can make any business a better one. Look out for work for Heathrow, Santander, Jupiter and the World Gold Council. Bling!
It must be a funny task to design the sea, that said – it is a wonderful thing to surf in. SEA are an award winning communications agency who work across all media. They have a reputation for innovative and effective design that crosses all media disciplines and have worked with international clients such as Adidas, Selfridges, EMI, GF Smith and King Sturge. Some of their work has been appeared in the Design Museum, ICON Magazine, Grafik, Eye Magazine and several books.
No list about top design agencies would be complete without Seymour Powell, an agency with nearly 3 decades of award winning innovation and design, winning a growing tally of over 40 International Design awards. SP are one of the world's leading design and innovation companies who currently employ 90 people in a combined design studio, research centre, materials library and prototyping workshop. Companies from around the world go to them for design innovation, user research, strategy and new product development (NPD). Forecasting trends in product design, 3D structural design and 2D graphic design.
They are are not just visionary thinkers, but future 'doers'. Ultimately, SP make things better: better for people, better for business and better for the world.
Some of their 40 plus international awards include:
D&AD Yellow Pencil & Silver Award, Most Outstanding Product and the D&AD President's Award for Outstanding Contribution to Design TWICE!! 6x DBA Design Effectiveness Awards Winner and Design Challenge Winner, 3 Red Dots Awards and a Best of the Best Red Dot Award, 2x iF Product Design and Communication Design Winner, an Outstanding Lifetime Contribution to Design from the Interior Design Awards – I'm running out of breath – 3x I.D. Awards, 3x Design Week Awards including Best Product Design and Best of Show, 2 x Excellence in Design Gold winners, 2 Starpack Awards – Gold and Silver and finally Number 1 UK Design Company by the YouGov Design Reputation Survey in 2010. PHEW!!
Don't we all just love the Virgin brand? Well I do anyway, I even had a chance to work on some of the collateral for Virgin Drinks as well. Start JG have done a load of amazing work for Virgin and have picked up numerous awards for them and their other clients along the way (Barclays, adidas, Bentley and Comic Relief). They were No. 7 in the Design Week Top 100 Consultancy Survey back in 2010, gained a few DADI Awards, a DBA Design Effectiveness Award, a Rebrand 100® x2 and an IVCA Award to name but a few.
But one of the main things I like about these guys, is that through their relationship with the Virgin Group of Companies (Virgin Media, Virgin Mobile and Virgin Atlantic Airways), that they have thrown their creative weight behind The Elders, an independent group of public figures who campaign to solve global problems. The Elders include Nelson Mandela, Jimmy Carter, Kofi Annan and Aung San Suu Kyi, and are funded by ‘Founders’ such as Sir Richard Branson and Peter Gabriel. All a good initiative to familiarise and humanise the world’s problems. Top Marks from all of us in the design field and it's no wonder they have such an enviable client roster.
What's their story I wonder? Is it worth a read? Well, according to Story we must welcome to the post-advertising age as brands are competing with filmmakers, writers and entertainers, and not just with other brands. Advertising-as-interruption is over and any brands wishing to connect to customers must do so by telling an engaging and entertaining story, one that audiences actually want to hear. We are now in an opt-in culture and the only way to get positive attention is to create desired content that is relevant, informing, entertaining and on-brand that consumers will search out for.
Multiple award winning Story classes itself as the world's first post-advertising agency, applying established storytelling techniques to marketing and communications. Their UK work includes integrated campaigns and media content for Lexus, Unilever, Duchy Originals, Links of London, Magners and Yo Sushi.
SPBA (Stein & Partners Brand Activation) and IAS (Industrial Art Services) joined forces in 2013 to create Stein IAS in 2013. The collaborative total of both companies awards when combined tops an amazing 380+ Awards and growing… The newly formed merger was 'Ranked as Agency of the Year' at the BMA's B2 Awards in 2013.
Stein IAS are the champions of B2B marketing and harness deep thinking with specialised expertise and advanced technology to place clients at the pinnacle of B2B marketing.
Their awards tally includes 102 BMA B2 Awards, 57 Drum Marketing Awards (including the coveted DRUM MARKETING 2013 HATSTAND AWARD, which incredibly is an award for winning the most awards by a UK agency in 2012) and a combined 26 BtoB Magazine Top Agency Awards. I think they can celebrate with the odd stein or two of lager for their achievements :-)
Superunion was formed in January 2018 from five world-class businesses as an agency specifically designed to meet the diverse needs of clients today. Combined from Brand Union, The Partners, Lambie-Nairn, Addison and VBAT. Super Union (not Super Onion) is going to be one to look out for in the future, as separately they id great things, combined they will rule the design world.
The old Lambie-Nairn were every day brand experts that have done some fantastic executions in creating O2, Channel 4, Expedia, the BBC and FIFA. Branding but not as we know it Captain, we'll not exactly - everything that they have done - we know! L-N also have a spectacular lean towards creating TV idents, which when combined with their branding ability, makes for superb results. Award wise they have 24 Promax BDAs, 6 D&AD Yellow Pencils, 3 DBA Design Effectiveness Awards, a Gold Cannes Lion and are winners of the Design Week Benchmark Awards. Lambie-Nairn are so good that they have featured in an exhibition at the Design Museum, celebrating the crème de la crème of London's free thinking in a super contemporary showcase.
The Partners in it’s old guise was another agency which really didn’t need an introduction either, The Partners were No 3 in Design Week’s Creative Survey 2012 (and were an incredible No.1 in 2010 before DW changed their formula) based on global awards for creativity and they also remain the most awarded brand consultancy at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity. A quick download of the full list on their awards page will take you to one of the longest lists you've ever seen, even longer than this one :-)
Some of their old award highlights include:
Funnily enough, The Partners was the UK’s most consistently awarded agency over the last 30 years.
Brand Union was a world class global branding agency which began as Sampson Tyrrell in 76 and formed a union with the WPP group in 86, and was renamed to become Brand Union in 07. They were named design agency of year by the Marketing Magazine before and certainly had a few superb examples of international branding in their portfolio of note, one in particular is that they are brand guardians for the giant that is Vodafone. Also in the project archives is branding for the Premier League, Shazam, Bank of America/Merrill Lynch and Peroni. Lets hope this new super union carries on going longer than Brad Pitt & Angelina Jolie :-)
Following the entries above is going to be difficult for most agencies, thankfully Studio Output has award wining work that is bright, bold and cheerful – worth a mention in any list as they particularly aim at the youth market with clients such as BBC Radio 1 / 1 Extra, MTV, HMV, and the Sony Playstation. SO are voted well by their design peers, coming in a respectable joint sixth place in the Drum's UK Design Peer Poll in 2013, alongside The Chase and only just behind the likes of Pearlfisher, Love, Pentagram, Wolf Ollins and SomeOne in London. Definitely one to watch for such a comparatively small agency!
This is one is for all you Scots out there, save anyone saying this is not a true UK list :–) Tayburn was ranked 6th in the UK by the DBA in it's Design Effectiveness Awards league table in 2012 and ranked 7th in the UK for creativity as in the DW Creative Awards league table also in 2012. Their awards page is simply massive (although it is populated with predominately Scottish awards) and includes 2 recent DBA Design Effectiveness Awards wins in 2014.
Look out for work for SSE, ING Bank, RBS, Scottish Water, Standard life and Turkish Airlines.
I wonder if there is any 'i' in this team, well I doubt it with around a 40 strong workforce, this definitely is a Team and a decent size one at that, no wonder they are one of the very top brand and communications agencies in the UK, appearing high up in the Design Business Association (DBA) Effectiveness League Tables as well as The Drum Top 100 Design Agencies league tables.
The Team create brilliant and brave ideas that are focussed on engagement and more importantly ROI, hence their award wins which include a mass of 22+ DBA Design Effectiveness Awards (the last 2 were won in 2014) which must make their award cabinet must look like an armoury...
For those of you in the know – you just know, and for the others of you that don't know – you don't deserve to know :-)
(Translated: this means Tomato is one for the designers out there...)
This is one for all you designers who trained during the 90's, and yes, they are still going, and still going strong by the looks of their awards: the were named studio of the year by Creative Review, won a Tokyo Type Directors Club Grand Prix, have some RTS Awards, 2 Promax Awards, 3 Shark Awards and a Eurovision Silver Award (and no, not for singing during their lunch breaks). Amazing, simply stunning and beautiful work (I could insert a very long list of complimentary phrases)! Give us a job WNA? So, as your here, why not (take a look at these) associates.... sorry :-( again!
I'm almost close to finding an agency in Wales as these guys are award winners from just over the border in Manchester. They are proud of the 150+ awards they have one, which include a raft of D&AD and Design Effectiveness Awards, a Roses Grand Prix Winner, Gold and Silver Fresh Awards, a New York Festivals Gold and Design Week Awards. The projects I like the most on their website, are actually the smallest, but show creativity at it's best, the designs for Expecting Baby, The Mutts Nuts and APG Visual Colour are simply sublime creative. For the more corporate eye candy, please look out for the Tate and various Royal Mail projects.
Thankfully I haven't got dyslexia or this could be a troubling and contradictory read haha, I am presuming it is WIN Kreative with a K as opposed to the alternative, which would be a pretty bad thing to name it as such as WIN are headed up by Tyler Brûlé, the original founder of the magazine Wallpaper* and current editor-in-chief of Monocle – so I think I would quickly get into trouble in design circles, oops.
So thankfully WIN(K) are a multi-award winning creative bunch, the agency began as a spin-off from his magazine in a response to his advertisers' demands for intelligent, bespoke advertising solutions. The design projects shown on the site are refined and elegant solutions to premium client briefs that are exemplary down to the minute detail.
Well, we are almost down at the bottom of the list, but by no means at the bottom of the pile (the list is alphabetical in case you haven't noticed :-) Their website is in an interim position at the moment and focuses on brand identities and integrated design as the majority of their awards these days are not solely for packaging design as it once was. Their website features an unusual selective video portfolio… not sure about that.
Their award history not listed on the current website includes:
All for work with clients like Clipper Teas, Cobra and Sainsbury’s So Organic, all fantastic, so much so that Garrick Hamm was appointed as D&AD President in 2008/9 and WMH also feature in the Guardian’s ‘Top 50 Hottest Names in Design’. Beat that, nah 'can't touch this da da da!'.
In our opinion this is one agency to watch, they are a wild card but Kerve are an award winning agency of the future...
Wolff Olins is a brand business and are one of the world's biggies, they help clients achieve new ambitions through brand-led strategy. They have a great website, I love the navigation, simple and effective with good case studies on international brands to download on each of their clients, why not visit them to look out for clients such as: Unilever, 3i, First Direct, Amnesty International, Sony, GE, Windows, Firefox, London 2012 Olympics, Mercedes Benz and NYC (how the hell do you start branding a city like that????). They get a 9.9 out of 10 from me for style, effort and poise!
Penfold is the side kick of danger mouse, WPA Pinfold are an amazing kick ass agency who like their beer, so much so that they have a dedicated section on the website (www.wpa-pinfold.co.uk/brewing) showing off 3 of the 8 Design Effectiveness Awards that they have won in the last 2 years alone! They don't just do beer as over the past 25 years they have been working with RWE npower, Cadbury, Tesco, Scottish & Newcastle, University of Leeds and National Grid (but I still like the beer bit best :-)
They are so proud of their effectiveness that the home page is dedicated to their awards and they are already making the proud statement that they will win 3 more DBAs in 2014. Let's see shall we... and they actually did as well, a huge pat on the back from me :-)
At an un-official place on my list are the large global networks (although I have named several entities of them on my lists). M&M Global have a great downloadable pdf showing how these networks are built up and which agencies they contain. The are really informative (as is the rest of their site) and you can get it from the link above.