But, as huge a step for the agency as it was, in Quinton’s eyes the Manhattan opening was not the biggest development in The Partners’ world in recent years. That honour, he says, is reserved for the agency’s “new found” confidence. “Or – more accurately – we rediscovered our old confidence that bled away a bit at the start of the decade,” he explains. “We got lost in trying to define who we were. Are we digital? Are we a branding agency? Do we do corporate identity? Packaging? Films? The answer was there all along; the answer was simple. It was yes. Yes, we do all of the above, and yes, we intend to do much, much more. Rather than waste time on these doubts, we’ll let our competitors worry about defining us. With a simple ‘yes’, confidence has flooded through the company from nose to tail.”
This positive, all-encompassing approach has led to full integration of design and digital brand consultancy within The Partners’ arsenal, with the company wholeheartedly adapting its ideas to new channels. “For us, the prospect of working within the digital space was not something that scared us,” Quinton recalls, “but rather it meant we’d get to challenge our own imaginations, creating even bigger ideas with a greater reach and more dynamism. Whichever channels you use, the idea is the key, and whatever the future brings in terms of new channels, the idea will still be key.”
Crucially, as The Partners has expanded its pool of offerings it has carried its long-held clients with it. One of the agency’s first clients was toilet cubicle manufacturer Thrislington Cubicles, and the company remains a valued Partners client today. “It’s a relationship that is as treasured now as it was at the outset, and it’s a relationship that defines us in many ways,” says Quinton. “Let me explain: in my time at The Partners we’ve worked with glamorous clients – luxury hotels, jewellers, fashion designers, yacht-makers, art galleries and airlines – and Thrislington, which makes toilet cubicles, and we’re proud of that. The Partners has never decided to work with a client because they’re cool; the trick is doing something ‘cool’ for the client. We’ve been able to produce award-winning work for Thrislington year after year after year. And it’s only in part down to us. The client has been so open-minded, optimistic and enthusiastic it’s inspired us over and over again to outdo ourselves. Now that’s cool.”
Whatever services a client offers, The Partners has a knack for drawing the extraordinary elements out of that client and its business for all to see. That’s why, after all, the agency is swimming in awards. In Quinton’s mind, this remarkable and unstoppable inventiveness is all but guaranteed when you people an agency with the very finest and most passionate talent around. “Because of the high standard of creative minds in the building, it’s very rare that we’ll simply churn out ‘standard’ work and, moreover, we never take the easy way. I’m most proud of the balance we achieve. We can be working on designing sausage packaging, an identity programme for a children’s charity, repositioning a global management consultancy and launching new breakthrough drugs for a multinational pharmaceutical company all at the same time, all in the same building without any drop of quality across them.
“Our greatest ability is creating dream projects from seemingly difficult ones,” Quinton continues. “We don’t seek out brands that are already considered the epitome of cool and trendy, as what else is there left for us to do? We’re at our happiest working with, or creating, quirky or challenging brands. It’s true that there is opportunity in everything and it’s much more exciting doing something inspirational with unpromising raw material. Turning base metal into gold is our favourite trick.”
See what it’s like to work at The Partners in our exclusive Studio Life documentary on issue 191's DVD.
Studio Life is produced in association with Adobe.