Transcription of the interview with Michael Peters
Date: 4-Dec- 2008
Interviewer: Kelly Mai
Interviewee: Michael Pethers
Kelly: How many people in your company now?
Michael: We are starting new, so begin just with 3 people. But we will grow.
K: Last time you talking about you prefer the small company, small size. What do you mean by small? And how many people you prefer in a small company?
M: well, because it is very hard to tell, in my concern no more than 6 to 8 people in a company.
M: Because in the time now, our clients now really want to talk to experienced people, they don’t want layers of management. They want to work around the kitchen table. For example, clients come here; we actually go downstairs and work around the table. So my idea is we should not have pressure in the west end of London. We don’t need fancy office any more. We just need to work in what clients’ interest in. We have big enough reputation already with track record to help us to do that. And I believe the big branding company’s dead day is coming soon. And I m only interested in the company allow us to do the very creative works, and help them to grow their businesses. And that’s why would like to my clients come and work with me or my senior colleagues.
K: I saw u did some work with big company, like W+K,
M: We are not big advertising agency, remember, we are in the world of branding and design. Big advertising agency they do need to be big to help their clients work worldwide. But they need to employ somebody or hire somebody like us to help, because we are specialized.
K: how do you market your company to you that kind of big company? Like W+K that kind of advertising agency.
M: I m not particularly interested in working with the big advertising agency. Let me say, advertising agency are interested in working together with us. Because we start the processes, and then advertising agencies are follow. But increasingly, what our clients are looking to do is to ask artist to create the advertising, and find a cheaper way to get the advertising into the worldwide market. The advertising agency used to be the strongest part of client communication. Now the brand consultancies become the strongest part. It starts small groups of people to help with, whether you are Ford whether u are Uniliver. Clients need to buy experiences and skill. We have a big job. We create the basic idea. But we actually employ outside to help worldwide is necessary. We have to go to a virtual agency, which means we are bring in the people have specific skills to help our clients on work, you can expect to get one skill all the skills in one organization for every client.
K: so you have a lot of connections?
M: I have a lot of connections all over the world. For example I might have a project I may want to bring a Brazilian designer in. he could work with me virtually. We are working in a virtual work. I think bring the right people to help us.
K: Can I know how long have you run this company?
M: This is brand new, today is the first day. I have been in to this area for 40 years. So we bring in all the experience in to now Michael Peters and Partners.
K: So how was your previous company, how many people in your pervious company?
M: Identica, there was 150 people in Identica. Now not anymore, Identica I think it is very small now. Identica must be 15 to 20 people now. Before Michael Peters Group, which was 800 people worldwide, we were the biggest branding and design company in the world. We were public company then. So from the very very large to the very small now. That’s the way I see my business going in the future. I don’t want the large one, branding company should be very small.
K: what do you think about the advantage and disadvantages of small company?
M: Small is the first of all is much more controllable. Is much more fun, is much more exciting. With the large company, you have to find work to keep people satisfy. And today it is not the way I want to work personally. There are obviously others want to grow big companies. But I don’t want to do that. I believe what clients want is to come to a place like this, or a small office, they will get into their future. They want to come and work directly with us. they want to small companies, they don’t want big companies any more. Too expensive. You are paying for layers of layers layers management you don’t need.
I started from small, became into big, but now small. But I am very happy about that. When I started, I stared small, just me, but now I have reputations.
Now I very keen to work with company who want to do very creative and exciting works, and allow us to do very creative works. And people who come to us, because we are doing creative and exciting works.
K: Do you think you company is a personal brand or a company’s brand.
M: a personal brand.
K: so do you think the small businesses should treat them as a personal brand?
M: I think small businesses should be personal brand anyway. Let’s say virgin, it is Richard Branson’s brand, he is a great entrepreneur. If you look at the people who come to us, because of my reputation and experience of creative work, so it is all about personal brand. But what comes first is not personal, is what I offer can make my client to be successful.
K: so in the beginning when u just start, how you market yourself.
M: in that time I just keep to see people and persuade them. I am a good sales-man. So I persuaded people to give me work. In creative business, you need creativity, sense of business, sales skills. I am not just a designer. My team is not just designer, we have board skills.
K: how do you think about the Internet can help your business?
M: I am great believed that the Internet is the future driver of brands. I absolutely agree with that. It is not a virtual idea. What I am going to do is building the reputation online. It is the easier and faster way to do it. For me, the Internet is the most exciting medium. I want to ask people to be a part of that.
It is too early in the way what we are doing and what will we go to do, but I will use all available gateways to help us to grow our businesses, which is Facebook, MySpace whatever might be. Use the internet to build the client’s brand.
K: do you have any suggestion for if someone wants to start a new design company?
M: Look, first of all I think. What is important, first of all is the people have to decide what they want to achieve, if they are designers, they have to ask themselves whether they are professional designers and how they can move on accordingly. I believe that today we live in a very very tabular time, not only economically but also politically and socially, therefore, we have to do business through creative eyes, we are going to make our clients a lot of money. I like the link between creativity and commerce, as I said in the speech in LCC (London College of Communication) the link between creativity and commerce is key to me, but I can speak to everybody, for me, that’s my philosophy. For me doing the best creative work, is using the digital interface is one way to communicating and in storing clients’ businesses, and making sure the clients make money for what we do, it is what I actually want to be. That’s my philosophy
K: do you think the network is it important for small businesses?
M: of course, it is like any businesses. It is like a shop, if you don't have networks, there are no people to come to buy your clothes, you don't have business. Networking is the key. Building reputation is the key too. When you start, it is very tough, start small, do great work and gets reputation by doing great works, and you clients will come to you.