Who else is out there – how good are they?

Posted: Tuesday, 24 November 2009 | Posted by Adam Townend |

Using the SWOT Analysis I can analyse my competitors strengths and weaknesses, and use these as opportunities for myself. Because I looked at record companies as clients in my last post, it makes sense to analyse competitors who design for record companies.

The first agency I have decided to look at is 'Tappin Gofton'. I was looking through my CD collection at works I like and googling the names of designers, and their website came up. They've done work on behalf of bands such as Coldplay and Travis, and they have a some high profile clients in Nike and Bacardi. Their portfolio is really strong as their are a variety of works, and the fact they have these high profile clients listed on the website means they have a great amount of marketability.

The website is fairly simple, and doesn't have studio shots or tours like some of the other agency websites so you tend to create your own opinion of how they work just by the work on display. Information about the business is limited but gives a good overview of the founders experience and also mentions top clients again to reinforce their success.

High Profile clients
Established market position
Over 20 years commercial experience
Award winning agency
Range of work in portfolio
Website easy to navigate

Lack of information on agency (how they work, who works for them)
Located in London (I could take advantage of the local market here)
Less of a friendly environment than other design agencies (Ripe, Open Door Design)

Although their strengths outweigh their weaknesses significantly, opportunities can still be gained from the weaknesses identified like their location. I.e because they are based in London, I can target local clients and offer a more personal service because of my location. I could also capitalise on weaknesses such as lack of info by designing content for my website to make my design ethics crystal clear so the client knows all about me.

The next agency I will analyse is 'Morning Breath' who are a transnational design agency based in New York. Again, I chose them because their work is truly inspirational. Their website has a great archive of work from all sectors including music. They too have a lot of high profile clients in the skateboarding industry and typically design for american bands and artists which fall into my favourite genre. They seem to do quite alot of illustration work, something that I don't specialise in, however they also do a lot of typography and layout work too. They work primarily for print, which is the part of the industry that I want to be involved in.

Fresh and Innovative creative solutions
Visualisation, illustration and design
Music, gaming, independent labels, advertising, publishing and clothing
Grammy award nominee
Successful gallery shows

No studio imagery
Small about us section
less interactive than other agency websites (Ripe, Open Door Design)

Again the weakness seems to be in their transparency to potential clients. Theres a mention of how they work but the client can't see how they work and where they work. The client only knows a small bit of info from the about page. However, when an agency as established as this, I imagine they can pick and choose how they work with and through producing work for the sector they operate in they will always reach similar contacts who require similar services. They evidently know their market and design in an area that suits their graphical approach.

Overall, I have found that agencies that work for top artists in the music industry often have a range of top artists as clients. Although this seems daunting, I assume that once an agency can secure 1 or 2 artists then others will follow due to contacts within a certain sector or one particular record label. Looking back at the archive of work of Morning Breath they didn't always have big bands as clients, they had to start from the bottom and get noticed.