19th August 2016

Think local, design global

rbl is currently feeling like the Little Ant That Could.

From our small creative space in Leamington Spa, we currently have work live in Rio and San Francisco, with other projects due to launch soon in London, Auckland and Edinburgh.

So, how have we spread ourselves so far and wide? And what does it mean for design when, from such humble origins, you can touch so many different cultures?

The world is getting smaller

When you first see a list of client locations that reads like the script for the next bond film, you might imagine that our work life revolves around first-class travel and martinis in hotel bars. Well, not quite. (We did upgrade on a packed Cross Country train from Coventry the other day, but I’m not sure that counts?)

We may take it for granted, but it’s is always worth stating just how much technology has changed the way we work. The pace of change continues to accelerate. FaceTime, WeTransfer, Skype, Dropbox and even Snapchat have allowed us to design the interior of Team GB’s Rio headquarters without ever having to step foot in Brazil.

What’s even more important (and often forgotten) is that we can work internationally so efficiently. In fact, the restrictions technology places on projects – fewer meetings, more sharing – means that long-distance projects are often more efficient than those based just around the corner. We can now compete with local agencies not just on quality, but on price too.

There is a common design language

With a rise in technology comes a rise in expectations. We all expect to see the latest creative from the rarest of sources; we expect to see it, share it, up-vote it and comment on it. This insatiable appetite means that a creative in the Midlands will be digesting exactly the same design stories as a creative in Sydney.

If creatives and audiences alike are consuming the same culture, and we are what we eat, it follows that design tastes will converge. It’s fair to say that the quest for an international design language started by the Bauhaus has been well and truly finished by social media, to the point where the work of a good Leamington design agency will be just as appreciated by a Brazilian client as it will one from Edinburgh.

But it pays to have a regional accent 

Counter-intuitively, when everyone is speaking the same language it becomes a real advantage to have a unique voice.

Our work for Aston Martin and Coffee Architects has gone down so well in Pebble Beach because we truly understand the Midlands – the base for Aston Martin, Coffee Architects and the home of ‘artisan engineering’. We can communicate it so well because it resonates with our own special, Leamington-based flavour.

Making the jump from local to global

In pushing ourselves to reach out further, we’ve learned that we can work globally. We are efficient, can communicate internationally and deliver impact because we still understand our strong local roots. And, after all, good design is universal.

Now we’ve had a taste of this (not quite) jet-set lifestyle, we’re hungry for more. If you’ve got an interesting project, be it Tokyo or Taunton, we’d love to hear from you, so get in touch.


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    Rebecca Battman

    Managing Director

    Rebecca is the founder and Managing Director of rbl. An experienced brand and marketing professional, Rebecca has spent over 30 years helping clients to build, design and manage their brands.

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