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Cross Colours: Adelle Wapnick

Finding A Balance Has Been The Key To The Success Of Design And Ad Agency Cross Colours

Juliet Pitman



Adelle Wapnick of Cross Colours

Wapnick’s Yeoville flat after growing tired of the traditional advertising industry scene. After landing the Mercedes Benz Honda account as their first job, the word of their creativity spread and the business grew organically. Twelve years later they look back on their original dream to create something agile, flexible and creative, that would meet client needs but also provide a place where staff would be valued and respected.

In an industry where truly good creative minds are difficult to come by, it’s a strange incongruity that agencies don’t work harder to retain their staff. This provided Cross Colours with one of its key differentiators. By establishing a culture that valued its people as much as it valued their creative output, the company has managed to build up a unique team of highly talented individuals –and what’s more, it’s managed to retain them.

The same can be said for clients. A good deal of the company’s work is in below-the-line advertising and, as Wapnick explains: “Too many agencies don’t treat below-the-line with any kind of strategic approach. One of our biggest strengths is strategic insight and we look at every job holistically from the client’s entire brand point of view.”

This has helped the company build a kind of client loyalty that’s rare for below-the-line operators. But Wapnick is quick to point out that Cross Colours’ strong client relationships do not hinge on good work alone. “Our relationships with clients have been characterised by some very heated debates in the past.

We are very vocal and if we don’t think a client is right, we are very open about telling them so. But although we have arguments and debates, the relationship is mutually respectful and I think this has been key to retaining clients,” she says.

Getting to this point has meant an often-difficult journey and Wapnick explains how, over the years, she and her team have had to learn about confronting clients. “Too many agencies are only interested in the money and they get into relationships with clients who don’t respect them and see them as nothing more than a supplier.

This means they brief them late and badly and put them under tremendous pressure – at the end of the day this affects the quality of work that an agency can produce. The upshot is that both the client and the agency end up stressed and unhappy,” she says.

In an industry notorious for being highly pressured, Cross Colours has managed to strike a balance between client demands and their vision of creating a nurturing environment for staff. Wapnick explains how they did it: “Part of the journey has been to find clients who mirror our ethos and values, so they respect our staff and see us as partners in their business. And part of the job of our account managers is to manage the relationship properly. In this, they have our full support.”

But in spite of the ‘softer’ side of their business, Wapnick and her partners understand the value of their creative clout. They stay creatively relevant by immersing themselves in popular culture, believing that creativity can’t happen within one frame of reference. She concludes: “The only way for original thinking to happen is to be so stimulated by the world that it broadens your horizons and changes your structure of interpretation,” she concludes.

Contact: +27 11 459 0600;

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25 Of The Most Successful Business Ideas In South Africa

Find out who’s making waves in numerous industries and how they managed to differentiate themselves in local and international industries.

Nicole Crampton



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“Disruption is all about risk-taking, trusting your intuition, and rejecting the way things are supposed to be. Disruption goes way beyond advertising, it forces you to think about where you want your brand to go and how to get there,” says Richard Branson.

South Africa has its fair share of innovative and disruptive businesses taking both local and international industries by storm. From cutting edge space technology to reimagined logistics, and innovative business models, here are 25 of the most successful business ideas in South Africa:

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Colin Timmis Says ‘Position Yourself For Success By Starting With The Numbers’

People pay first who they feel pressure from, so people will pay you when they feel pressure from you.






Entrepreneur Colin Timmis founded South Africa’s first cloud accounting practice in 2011, Real Time Accounting. Then, a few years after being appointed as South Africa’s first Xero partner Colin became Xero Country Manager South Africa. Xero is the emerging global leader of online accounting software that connects small businesses to their advisors and other services.

Related: Pat Pillai On How He’s Helped Over 5000 Entrepreneurs Using 3 Key Steps

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Two 20 Year Olds Reshape Entrepreneur Landscape With New Social Investment Platform

The Merge vision is to become the ‘go to’, digital meeting place for entrepreneurs and investors, and to truly make a difference in the world.

Merge Connect




Vital Stats

It’s no secret that finding the right investor for your venture is a challenge that most entrepreneurs face. The current process of finding investment is one that is outdated, and limits entrepreneurs due to a lack of time, and network that is needed to find the right investor. But, this doesn’t have to be the case in today’s digital society, says Zander Matthee and Brandon Bate, co-founders of Merge.

“By making the Internet the middleman, we are able to connect with each other much simpler and faster than before” was Zander’s response. “We have taken advantage of this, and have created a digital meeting place for entrepreneurs and investors” added Brandon.

Merge is a social platform that connects entrepreneurs and investors. It aims to simplify, refine and accelerate the process of finding investment for entrepreneurs, and the process of finding investment opportunities for investors. From idea to developed, the platform allows entrepreneurs to present a brief outline of their venture to a network of all investor types. While doing this, entrepreneurs are able to browse through, and connect with investor profiles that suit their requirements.

Related: 8 Codes Of Success That Helped Priven Reddy of Kagiso Interactive Media Achieve A Networth Of Over R4 Billion

From Private Investors to Venture Capital, and everything in between, Merge allows all investor types to join. Investors have the opportunity to personalise their feed to suit their investment preferences, and will be able to connect with innovative businesses – that are looking for investment – at their fingertips. Only once there is a mutual interest in each other, are users able to enter a secure private chat where they can discuss further and share documents under the protection of a digital NDA.

The two boys became good friends during their time in high school at St Stithians Boys College. However, it was only in their last year, 2016, that they decided to pursue their dreams and create the platform. They didn’t know how to code, so rather ironically, they needed some form of investment to get the platform off the ground.


“We knew we had a mountain to climb, but we believed in our vision and that we were really trying to make a difference, and if we could get others to see that, they would be onboard.” said Zander.

Related: Lessons From The Rich And Famous: Manage Your Money Like Oprah To Avoid Going Into Debt Like Nicholas Cage

Chris Peters is one of these individuals that bought into their vision, and became Merge’s first investor. As a successful entrepreneur and part time investor , Chris saw how much value the platform could bring to all entrepreneurs and investors alike. His marketing and strategic background gave him insight into how Merge could play a vital role in a lucrative space, Brand involvement.

“Entrepreneurship and SME development are two key factors that drive economic growth in developing countries like South Africa. That is why brands are currently getting involved, and looking to support entrepreneurs through various means. We have built a platform that allows these brands to successfully market, and execute on the programmes they have created to assist entrepreneurs.” said Chris

Merge was created to assist all entrepreneurs and investors in finding exactly what they are looking for, regardless of age, race, sex, financial position or social status. That is why anybody can sign-up as an entrepreneur. As long as you are determined and willing to work for your dreams. For too long has the investor space been seen as an “elite club for the select few”, and Merge is here to change that. Whether you’ve gotten your bonus at the end of the year and looking for new investment opportunities, or are an active investor, you can sign-up. Whether you’re currently working, or a retired industry leader, you can join as a mentor.

Their vision is to become the ‘go to’, digital meeting place for entrepreneurs and investors, and to truly make a difference in the world.

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