Changing Market Dynamics Spur Yellowwood’s Growth Plans
For many years we have said that marketing and brand building is customer driven, but never before has this been more true. The challenge of building great brands and enabling customer decision making has been become more complex. This, combined with uncertainty as an entrenched reality and the tech led behavioural change, is at the heart of Yellowwood’s changing business model and search for new sources of growth and opportunity.
“The new market dynamics and unprecedented speed of change demand that we reinvent our business and do what we advise so many of our clients to do - leap, learn, and take some risks in search of growth. Clients want simple and useful solutions that drive their bottom line and in order to do this we need to increase our expert capabilities, learn new skills and enter new markets with them,” says Kay Nash, CEO Yellowwood.
To build expert capabilities in insights and research, the company has formally aligned itself with Hall & Partners, a highly innovative global insight and research boutique. This will enable Yellowwood to have access to digital platforms, new tools and talent to grow skill and capabilities. “In this social world, the people who know people best will win. Hall & Partners provide tools, global access and radical innovation to our mix, that will enable us to do this,” says Nash.
Among these tools is Engager™, a model that provides a unique-in-market strategic framework to evaluate and quantify how effectively a brand engages customers. It enables more meaningful brand planning across a new diverse spectrum of touch points. Yellowwood is currently in its first project with Engager™ in South Africa, and the results will be announced shortly.
Yellowwood’s growth strategy includes expanding its presence in the rest of Africa (with 6 of 10 fastest growing global countries being in sub-Saharan Africa). With offices already in Kenya and Nigeria, they are actively expanding this base by becoming investment partners in local businesses - the first of which is in blackBox, a pioneering consultancy in Nigeria that shares many of its core principles with Yellowwood. Yellowwood will provide the agency with tools, processes and best practice methodologies to enhance their strategy, research and design offering.
“Nigeria is a rich, diverse and incredibly powerful country. In each of the businesses we are involved in – we have a local focus - with local talent and strong local relationships. We believe in creating jobs, creating real wealth opportunities for our partners and building expert capabilities and knowledge in each market. It will take time, but we will create truly sustainable world class businesses across the continent,” says Nash.
In South Africa, Yellowwood is looking to strengthen its capabilities in design and is in discussions with a leading local design agency and an announcement will be made in the coming months regarding business developments in this area.
“We continue to believe in the power of specialisation and best of breed, but we understand that our clients need things to get simpler and to deliver real business value. This demands we invent solutions that enable us to deliver both specialist business expertise in research, strategy and design, as well as coherent integrated solutions that holistically address the business and brand challenges for our clients. It is a very exciting time for our business.”
Founded by Andy Rice in 1997 as the first company to offer solution neutral communications strategy, the company grew and expanded its offering into brand strategy and research. Yellowwood merged with Future Architects in 1995 and Kay Nash became the CEO of the merged entity. The competence of the company evolved to deliver solutions that linked business to brand with marketing consulting at the one end of their offering, through to strategic design solutions at the other. In 2008 TBWA\ Worldwide bought a majority stake in Yellowwood Future Architects. “We had quadrupled our revenue over four years,” explains Nash, “and we then sought a strategic equity partner to enable further growth. We wanted to increase our exposure, expertise and also enable us to grow beyond our shores.”
Yellowwood has a strong team in place;a combination of highly experienced people as well as disruptive young blood to keep challenging the norms. The team is led by David Blyth as Group MD, Nicky Steel as COO, Jennifer Moore as Director of Research, Richard Stone as Creative Director. Yellowwood founder Andy Rice remains as Chairman in a non-executive and chief sage role.
Having partnered with both local and global leaders, Yellowwood is ideally positioned to expand its offering and bring new and innovative solutions to market,” concludes Nash. “It is an exciting time, and we are very privileged to have TBWA\’s investment in our growth as well as the passionate support of our team and our clients.”