Freytag Anderson Might Be a Small Scottish Agency, But They Have a Genuine Global Appeal
by Rudy Sanchez on 02/03/2022 | 6 Minute Read
Sixty-six million years ago, a rock 6 to 9 miles wide struck the Yucatan peninsula, causing most life on earth to cease. The Cretaceous–Paleogene (K–Pg) extinction event wiped out three-quarters of all species, including most four-legged animals weighing over 55 pounds.
In an instant, being large was suddenly a disadvantage. In a moment, being a giant dinosaur was out, and small birds and mammals had the upper hand. The world was suddenly different, and now being small, agile, and open to change was now en vogue.
There wasn’t an extinction-level event in the design industry when Daniel Freytag and Greg Anderson started their agency, Freytag Anderson. But they saw an opportunity to thrive in a changing world where being small and working remotely—and comfortably—gave them a unique advantage and capability to work with a range of clients, big and small, local and faraway.
“Daniel and I have had lots of big agency experience working in different places. We both worked in Sydney, and Daniel has done a bit more work abroad, in London, New York, and Dubai,” Greig said. “Around 2009, it seemed a lot of people were starting to break off of larger agencies and setting up smaller studios, and it just seemed to be at that point where it was really popular and viable. Back then, the number of people you had working in the studio correlated to the size of the clients you could attract. But the world changed a little bit. Now you could work with any client from anywhere really in the world, regardless of size, so long as your work was good enough and the relationships were there.”
Working remotely and with clients globally is pretty standard for some design studios now, especially as the pandemic forced most studios’ hands. But Freytag Anderson has been working this way for years out of two Scottish offices with a small team—three in the office total, but with other external partners and freelancers in the fold as well). About seven years ago, Daniel moved to the coastal town of Oban, situated about a hundred miles to the northwest from Glasgow. That setup gives Freytag the ability to balance work with small-town living.
And while the commute is manageable, it demonstrates the studio's extensibility and the capacity for the small agency to service clients large and small, regardless of where in the world they are based.
“As an agency, I think Greig and I both never regarded ourselves as a Scottish one necessarily,” Daniel says. “We always thought bigger because we can work anywhere for anyone. And that was the mindset from day one. It was born out of us having traveled and worked in different environments. I think that mindset about not being defined by your location is something that is part of our DNA.”
And indeed, they have worked with their fair share of clients from around the globe, like Icelandic film production unit Truenorth, California artisan coffee roaster Algorithm, soft-drink behemoth Coca-Cola. But they have also managed to craft a global appeal with a carefully-curated design aesthetic.
The lush, mountainous region of Antioquia, Colombia, isn’t just 5,000 miles away from Glasgow. It’s a wholly different place. It is also where the Edinburgh-based Chocolatier COCO sources its premium ingredients, which the brand calls “Origin.” Rather than simply purchasing the raw cocoa, COCO works with locals to further process the cocoa, providing more economic opportunities and income for surrounding communities.
To showcase the origin of COCO’s premium and ethically sourced chocolate, they enlisted Freytag Anderson to create a series of films chronicling a road trip from Bogotá to the Gulf of Urabá. Freytag Anderson’s worldly perspective and experience brought Colombia vibrantly and sincerely into focus.
The bright colors and street murals Freytag Anderson captured in Colombia inspire COCO’s packaging, successfully moving the brand away from its previous geometric stock images. Now, every wrapper is a commissioned work of art in the same spirit as the murals found in Colombia, highlighting the craft that goes into every morsel of chocolate.
Despite having a range of clients and various design work from different parts of the world, specific projects speak to Daniel and Grieg, including local specialty whisky. Scotland is, of course, renowned for its whiskies, but Freytag and Anderson wanted to present the spirit differently. Woven, for example, drops a lot of the conventionality in whisky branding and packaging, charting a path of consumer discovery that is unique in a crowded and competitive space.
Instead of designing a brand from the same tropes commonly found in whiskies, such as the Scottish Highlands, stags, and storied legacy of the vaulted spirit, Freytag Anderson went in the opposite direction, making Woven more approachable and inviting to both experienced and curious consumers. Focusing on the characteristics of each blend, Woven’s packaging and branding are more informative and quantitative than is typically found in the category.
“Through FA, we wanted to target some specific things, and whisky for us was an area that we wanted to work in because it's an interesting space, especially now,” Greig said. “We never want to do what other people do. We want to put our spin on it, and it took a long time to find the right client who approached us with that in mind; to produce something that was away from the status quo.”
Just flipping through some of the studio's recent highlights, that ethos sticks out, from the super-sciencey half-labeled Rapscallion Soda and plastic-free homecare and personal essentials startup Nopla to the techno-inspired "Das Ist Techno Sex" from craft beermaker Up Front Brewing and woodblock printing adoration that's meat-slinger BURGER.
Bigger doesn't always mean better when it comes to design, and working on your own terms with the clients you want to serve is the dream for any agency or studio. Lucky for Freytag Anderson, they get to live that dream every day. Preserving their independence to do their best work, the upstart Scottish agency eschews the trappings of a large agency while still producing award-winning designs.