Continuing his track record of being a powerhouse in the global design industry, James Sommerville is setting a brand new standard for how creatives collaborate through a model which he introduces as “on demand distributed design.” The approach aims to flip the traditional century old model implemented by brick-and-mortar design agencies by helping creatives connect and collaborate with one another on a global scale. This is only the tip of the iceberg for the seasoned industry professional, as he predicts exponential growth for his global design community, Known Unknown.
James Sommerville has always had a reputation for change in the global design space. In 2013, he became the lead designer behind some of the most iconic brand identities and global campaigns of The Coca-Cola Company, where he served as the Vice President of Global Design. Much of the marketing success of Coca-Cola can be attributed to his leadership as he found innovative design solutions for the global brand introducing the notion of design thinking and an entrepreneurial spirit at a major company.
Former Chief Marketing Officer of The Coca-Cola company praised James Sommerville by saying, “James represents a ‘before and after’ in the history of The Coca-Cola Company.” He led the visual articulation for the 5 year global brand campaign ‘TASTE THE FEELING’ launched in 2016 that redefined Coca-Cola’s powerful image in over 200 markets. His creativity also paved the way for rebrands across many on the company’s billion dollar brands such as the Coca-Cola Trademark, Sprite, Fanta, Minute Maid, Fairlife, Powerade, and many others under its vast portfolio.
As a teenager, James Sommerville saw firsthand the 1980s high unemployment of design school graduates in the United Kingdom. At the age of 19, he firmly decided that the only way to succeed was to establish his own business. He couldn’t find a job, so he contacted The Prince’s Trust charity in 1986 founded by His Royal Highness Prince Charles, where he and his art college friend applied for a start-up grant.
He received £2,000 seed funding to start a small graphic design company in April, 1986. The agency was established in his grandmother’s attic bedroom in Huddersfield, West Yorkshire, United Kingdom. The design agency was aptly called “ATTIK.”
For over 25 years, ATTIK grew to have offices in Leeds, London, New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Sydney with over 250 staff members. Eventually, James Sommerville sold ATTIK to Dentsu Advertising in Japan in 2007. He remained with Dentsu in a leadership creative agency role until 2013.
His storied career is one that is filled with exceptional perspectives and experiences. Firstly, James has firsthand experience as an entrepreneur, growing his own creative agency from the ground up, building and expanding across multiple markets, and exiting to a global agency. James Sommerville also has corporate experience as the design chief at one of the world’s most prominent and iconic brands.
Lastly, James Sommerville is today experiencing being a tech start-up Founder, reinventing the traditional brick and mortar agency model with on-demand platform thinking to source the best creative talent in the world wherever they may be, building a monetized marketplace around the concept.
He has tirelessly dedicated his time to the creative industry and promoting British design and creativity on a global scale. His efforts have been greatly recognized by the British royalty as he had the opportunity to keynote at a royal reception at Buckingham Palace for Prince Charles. He was also invited to a creative industry event where he met the Queen and was recognized for his contribution to British Design.
As a beneficiary of the Prince’s Trust charity which helped to start his business in 1986, James Sommerville now donates back to The Trust at every opportunity. He also supports the launching of the charity in the United States with The Prince’s Trust America. James Sommerville’s success story is one for the ages, and as he continues along the path of success, it’s only a matter of time before he can change the global design landscape through his innovative ideas and his massive influence.