Ivey Publishing
Right Clients, Right Way: Successes and Challenges of Brand Consultant Tommy Li
Product Number:
Publication Date:
12 pages (7 pages of text)
Product Type:
Case (Field)
Tommy Li was a designer and brand consultant renowned for his black humour and bold visual impact. With business spanning Hong Kong, China, Macau, Japan, and Italy, Tommy Li was one of the few Hong Kong designers to have entered the international market. In his ten years of experience as a design staff member, Li learned that getting the right clients was the key to a successful design consultancy business. Therefore, Li set up his own company to have full freedom in choosing his own clients, and his strategic selection of clients brought him great success. Consequently, he became a famous Hong Kong designer and brand consultant with reputable local and overseas clients. With international firms many times bigger than Li’s firm entering China, Li saw mounting competitive pressure. Was his stardom an adequate defence against firms composed of multidisciplinary teams that had innovation-driven design thinking and processes? Was scale a critical issue in staying competitive? Was proximity to the market an important advantage?

The brand consulting industry also faced intense competition from international business consultancies, advertising, and public relations agencies. Each camp used a different approach to target the same group of brand-conscious clients. Could Li cope with these challenges?
Learning Objective:
The case was developed to teach designers and design entrepreneurs. It is also suitable for MBA and other executive classes on entrepreneurship and creative business. This case is intended to achieve the following objectives: 1) study how strategic thinking guided Li to develop his design business despite changing market conditions, 2) understand how path dependence and dynamic capabilities explain Li’s success and challenges in a changing business environment, and 3) discuss the best approach to grow a design business — building methodology and processes or gaining fame in new markets.
Entrepreneurship,  General Management/Strategy,  International
Administrative, Support, Waste Management and Remediation Services
Hong Kong, Small, 2010
Intended Audience:
$5.30 CAD / $5.00 USD Printed Copy
$4.50 CAD / $4.25 USD Permissions
$4.50 CAD / $4.25 USD Digital Download
Associated Materials
Translations: Simplified Chinese (11 pages)
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