Inside Saffron’s plans for Australia

Published:  January 8, 2016


With 11 offices worldwide, Saffron Brand Consultants has now opened its 12th office in Australia, here in Melbourne. Luke van O, managing director for Saffron Brand Consultants, Australia, shares the Saffron story.


Petrol station design for Cepsa, by Saffron Brand Consultants

Petrol station design for Cepsa, by Saffron Brand Consultants

Saffron Brand Consultants was founded by Jacob Benbunan and the late Wally Olins when they left Wolff Olins in 2001 to establish a new agency based on a simple principle: to be as strong in its strategic capability as in its creativity.

Wally Olins is widely credited as being one of the founding fathers of branding, having quite literally written the book on the subject (The Corporate Personality: an inquiry into the nature of corporate identity – 1978), and going on to have a further six volumes published.

“Make it simple, make it clear, let it be original and brilliant, but, above all, make it work,” was Olins’ mantra.

His vision lives on in Saffron – both in the leadership of his friend and co-founder Benbunan, and in any of the people fortunate enough to have worked in the company they created.

A client once described Saffron as being “the perfect balance of brutality and charm” and this statement works well to describe our positioning in the Australian market. For many years the top tier of Australian strategic branding has been dominated by a small number of agencies that form part of large, listed marketing services groups. For these groups, the Australian market represents a smaller consideration than the ‘key’ markets of the US and Europe, and strategic branding itself is often seen as an adjunct to their communications businesses.

Rebrand of Telekom Austria to A1, by Saffron Brand Consultants

Rebrand of Telekom Austria to A1, by Saffron Brand Consultants

With the world currently focused on ‘disruption’, we believe that every brand is facing a choice between either being disrupted or becoming a disruptor itself. This has created an unprecedented level of uncertainty in the market, but it’s also created an unprecedented level of opportunity. We see the need for the Australian branding industry itself to be disrupted, and the entrance of Saffron reflects our intention to do so.

Saffron remains independent, so our clients’ money is used to pay the resources needed to do the work, not the shareholders. This allows us to focus on creating strategic design that solves problems instead of profitable design that meets the growth expectations of investors. We do not set out to placate our clients by given them what they expect; we are driven by the nature of the problem, by the work we do and we believe the outcome is often better as a result. This is our brutality.

And we focus on building long-standing relationships with our clients; relationships built on trust. This requires transparency, service and excellence in delivery. We are in love with insightful, clear strategy and beautiful, effective design. No compromise is ever made on this, as our clients must feel as proud of their work as we do. This is our charm.

“Saffron’s global network is gaining strength every day as we win new clients in new markets around the world. Our international expertise, combined with the local knowledge of Luke van O and the reputation of the Saffron brand presents a powerful proposition for all businesses operating in Australia,” says Jacob Benbunan, global CEO and co-founder.

This article first appeared in the desktop-Pause special.
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