Written on the 13 April 2016 by Nick Nichols


GOLD Coast branding agency Flagship Digital opened a London office in January with only modest expectations.

After all, it was kicking off as a one-man team driven by global head of lead generation Frazer Dobson.

Three months into the venture, Flagship Digital founder and director Fady Hanna (pictured) is on the hunt for more staff in London with plans to hire account managers and campaign managers to handle the growing portfolio of work coming from the UK.

Hanna says Dobson has already landed partnerships with eight UK agencies, putting Flagship in front of a number of high-profile clients in the finance, travel and charity sectors.

The early success also has helped the London office turn its first profit well ahead of schedule.

"It was surprising," says Hanna, describing the firm's early success in the UK.

It has even led him to explore expansion opportunities into New Zealand this year.

Although a relative newcomer to the sector, Flagship Digital has made its mark as a digital and branding specialist in Australia in a little more than four years.

Among its clients are corporate majors such as Westfield, Telstra, BMW, Citibank and Virgin Money.

Hanna argues that Flagship Digital's domestic growth has come off the back of systems that can accurately measure return on investment, which has been a key focus of the business from the outset.

"It's an ongoing issue for many businesses looking at an expensive marketing or branding campaign, and one that Flagship has managed through data verification and in-depth analytics of every campaign it creates," Hanna says.

"Our measure of success isn't so much within the value of the invoices or how long a client has been with us.

"It's very much about the return on investment for our clients. It's one that should be more prevalent in the market, but it's really not."

Hanna says Flagship Digital has been keen to explore offshore opportunities for some time, aided by a growing international client base.

"I think we needed a couple of really strong years in Australia first to establish our processes, systems and approach," he says.

"Once we really found our feet and found astronomical growth in Australia, we recognised that what we were doing wasn't just a different way of doing things in the Australian market. It was recognised around the world, which is why we started picking up a lot of international clients.

"That opened our eyes to see outside of the Australian market and start looking at branching out."

Hanna concedes the UK expansion was a calculated risk. He says the company's reputation for analytics, partnered with the London-based Dobson's experience, has 'added a whole lot of credibility'.

"Fraser already had a lot of established relationships with agencies, so for a lot of them knowing his history and track record it was a bit of a no brainer, particularly partnered with what we were achieving in Australia," says Hanna.

"That definitely fuelled the business a lot more than starting from scratch.

"Now we're working with several multinationals, including international airlines, banks and charities."

Success in London has led to an appetite for further expansion, with a 'strong prospect' that Flagship Digital will launch in New Zealand in early FY17.

While the UK is focused on marketing, Hanna says the New Zealand venture will centre on the creative side of the business.

Author: Nick Nichols





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