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Rosters – a recipe for success

Many organisations need to work with numerous creative partners, either because of the range of media for which they are responsible or because of the volume of work. Managed correctly, this multiple agency requirement can be capitalised on as an opportunity.

toa-heftiba-195458Rather than creatives operating independently of each other, with the right management solution, you can bring creative agencies together resulting in a collegiate response with greater transparency, cooperation and return on investment. The process I apply is led by the needs of each client, but the underlying principles are the same: to spread best practice, improve efficiencies and raise the profile and quality of creativity across the organisation.

It was while advising Land Securities, the name behind some of the most ambitious developments in London, that I instigated a roster of design consultancies and copywriters, and remained involved in its management and evaluation. I am a firm believer that roster creation is only the first step. While it’s vital to get the best mix of talents on board, it’s just as important to put in place the right processes to manage relationships and motivate people to produce ever higher standards of work. After assembling the group of creative specialists, we met regularly to share work in progress and be briefed on Land Securities marketing plans, strategy and brand vision. The result was greater knowledge-sharing, improved efficiencies and a real sense of collective endeavour.

Land Securities’ creative output was widely reported as having turned property marketing convention on its head and proved equally effective from a sales perspective. In two years, Land Securities won more creative awards than any other company and was voted one of the “Hot 50 people making a difference in design” two years running in a Design Week poll, as well as being named Design Week’s “Client of the Year”.

The British Heart Foundation (BHF), the UK’s number one heart charity, has enjoyed similar success with this roster methodology. Key to success was the introduction of an agreed design-agency management process and the creation of a structure whereby roster agencies could meet on a regular basis – an invaluable way to share skills and experience, and raise creative standards across the board. In organisations where project managers might not have a design background, such as at BHF, I’ve found that the development and delivery of a ‘Commissioning Design’ workshop has helped educate, whilst also providing a template to support ongoing creative commissioning. This process has made a lasting difference to the way BHF works.

“The design roster helped BHF fully realise their creative potential and work in a more efficient and effective way”, said Louise Kyme then Head of Design at BHF. As with Land Securities, BHF were similarly voted one of the “Hot 50 people making a difference in design” in a Design Week poll and Design Week Benchmark’s “Client of the Year” in 2012, really highlighting the value and impact a cohesive and structured method of working with multiple agencies can bring to all types of business.

stephanie-mccabe-24621My consistent experience is that well managed interaction between agencies nurtures healthy competition and the sharing of a company’s marketing strategy means everyone gets an appreciation of the bigger brand vision. Managed well, a roster can deliver value for money, creative excellence and raise the profile of design and a sense of pride within any institution.

Like any large organisation, BSkyB faced challenges when it came to coordinating creative work, sharing knowledge and maximising resources. They took the step to introduce a year-long creative programme for their online design team as well as their established external agencies. Charlotte Briscall, then BSkyB’s Head of Design, Internet Products and Services, said that as a result, the business benefited from “a leaner and more coherent roster” and “the quality of the design work increased threefold”. What’s more, the creative programme generated a real buzz throughout the organisation, which led to a number of BSkyB’s internal marketing and strategic leaders asking to take part. The value of a collective sense of pride amongst everyone involved in a roster shouldn’t be underestimated; from engagement to productivity it can bring much to a business.

Visionary clients with a real commitment to creativity can deliver truly exciting and lasting results through their roster.

As my client Christine Ayre, Head of Corporate Design at King’s College London said of the value of having a smoothly-functioning, collaborative design roster, is that it “consistently delivers great creative results – raising the profile of good design and raising the creative bar”. And that’s a recipe for success.

About: Jan Casey

With over 25 years’ experience in the creative industry, Jan Casey has substantial expertise from both a business and consultancy perspective.  As board director and shareholder at Lambie-Nairn Ltd she was responsible for the development and direction of multi-disciplinary teams.  As an independent design management consultant for over 15 years, she has delivered a unique set of skills, combining her experience as a brand consultant, project director, business advisor and coach.  Clients include Sainsbury’s, Virgin Atlantic Airways, Royal Mail and Pentagram.


Image credits: © Verne Ho |

Image credits: © |