Leaders of the Orange Economy

We’ve discussed the orange economy before and that it refers to all things creative, wherever it may manifest or whichever industry it may touch. The central hallmark of the orange economy is creativity. The use of ‘orange’ comes from the cover of creative industry leader John Howkins’ book: ‘The Creative Economy: How People Make MOney From Ideas’.

Ideas, and the currency of ideas. What gives ideas their value? How do they get made? The orange economy covers all ideas, and the process for their coming into being: ideation, creation, production, and proliferation. Traditional economics referred to this as ‘technology’ or ‘technological progress’.

In terms of industries, there remains no limit to what the orange economy would include in the same manner as the potential of intellectual property itself cannot be limited. Put another way, arts and culture added 877 billion USD to the US GDP in 2020. We’ll cover five industries and their global leaders:

  • Entertainment: Walt Disney
  • Digital media: Apple
  • Fashion: Kering
  • Advertising: WPP
  • Design: Gensler

Walt Disney

Earning over 88 billion USD for the fiscal year ending September 2023, Walt Disney is the longstanding paragon of the global orange economy (before it was an ‘orange’ economy) and the keenest example of effectively using intellectual property. Disney stands out with three techniques highly effective with monetising creative content.

Iconic characters. The Disney Princesses, Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, Marvel, Star Wars, and Pixar all have one thing in common across their very separate fictional worlds–Disney. All these examples need no further reference. They highlight the power of character, and what it means to create highly relatable icons.

Unforgettable films. The Lion King, Aladdin, Cinderella, Frozen, Moana, and Toy Story. All highly successful, all catering to the same target audience of young adults with effective writing and development. Toy Story 4, for example, earned over 1 billion USD worldwide.

Theme parks. Global attractions such as Disneyland and Walt Disney World offer highly immersive attractions before the concept of virtual reality existed. However, they capitalise on an essential component of the orange economy–merchandising. Through toys, clothing, and accessories, customers can connect with the characters they have come to adore.


Apple, a technology and cloud computing giant, has carved its place as a global industry trailblazer within the creative economy, shaping the digital landscape through its ingenuity and strategic prowess. With a staggering revenue surpassing 380 billion USD for the fiscal year ending September 2023, Apple epitomises the mastery of leveraging intellectual property and innovation to drive its success.

Revolutionary products. From the iconic iPhone, iPad, and MacBook to the Apple Watch and AirPods, Apple has consistently redefined consumer electronics. Its products epitomise sleek design, intuitive interfaces, and cutting-edge technology, setting industry standards and capturing the imagination of users worldwide.

Ecosystem integration. The Apple ecosystem seamlessly links hardware, software, and services, creating an unparalleled user experience. iCloud, the App Store, Apple Music, and services like Apple Pay and Apple TV+ form a cohesive network, fostering customer loyalty and providing a convenient and interconnected digital lifestyle.

Retail experience. Apple Stores, designed as experiential spaces rather than mere retail outlets, offer an immersive customer journey. These stores not only showcase Apple’s products but also provide educational sessions and technical support, reinforcing the brand’s connection with its consumers and enhancing the overall customer experience.


Kering, a global luxury powerhouse, has emerged as a pinnacle in the luxury goods sector and the orange economy, with revenue exceeding 20 billion EUR for the fiscal year ending December 2022. The company stands as a paragon of effectively harnessing intellectual property and innovative strategies in the luxury market.

Luxury brands. Kering boasts an enviable portfolio of prestigious fashion and luxury brands such as Gucci, Saint Laurent, Bottega Veneta, Balenciaga, and Alexander McQueen. Each brand possesses a distinctive identity, reflecting craftsmanship, creativity, and a unique allure, ultimately creating Kering’s luxury stronghold.

Excellence and innovation. The company’s commitment to fostering creativity and innovation within its brands sets it apart. From groundbreaking fashion designs to avant-garde accessories and artistic collaborations, Kering brands consistently push the boundaries, resonating with discerning consumers who seek exclusivity and the ‘next’.

Sustainable practices. Kering leads the luxury industry in sustainable initiatives, prioritising environmental and social responsibility. Through its ‘Crafting Tomorrow’s Luxury’ strategy, the company focuses on reducing its environmental footprint, promoting ethical practices, and supporting community projects, reinforcing its brand commitment to a more sustainable future.


WPP, a global leader in advertising, communication, and marketing services, is a stalwart of pure creativity within the orange economy, showcasing remarkable financial performance with revenue surpassing 14 billion GBP for the fiscal year ending December 2022. The company stands as a beacon of innovation and strategic utilisation of intellectual property in the ever-moving realm of marketing.

Many agencies, strategic brands. WPP houses a diverse array of agencies and firms, including Ogilvy, Grey, GroupM, JWT, and Wunderman Thompson, each renowned for its expertise in different facets of advertising, branding, digital marketing, and media buying. This diverse portfolio enables WPP to cater to an extensive range of client needs while harnessing the synergy between its entities for impactful campaigns.

Data-driven insights. WPP’s commitment to leveraging data analytics and cutting-edge technology sets it apart in the industry. By utilising data-driven insights, artificial intelligence, and innovative technologies, WPP empowers its agencies to craft personalised, targeted, and effective marketing strategies, thereby enhancing client outcomes.

Focusing on creativity. The company places a premium on fostering creativity, expression, and collaborating with clients. By emphasising creativity as the core driver of successful campaigns and maintaining close partnerships with brands, WPP enables a collaborative environment that fuels innovative ideas.


Gensler, a global architecture, design, and planning firm, has established itself as another leader in the orange economy with a fiscal 2023 revenue of over 1.80 billion USD. With an impressive track record and an extensive global reach, Gensler has continually demonstrated its ability to redesign the boundaries of architecture.

Multifaceted design expertise. Gensler’s portfolio encompasses a wide spectrum of projects, including commercial spaces, urban planning, hospitality, healthcare facilities, education institutions, and more. The firm’s ability to deliver innovative and functional designs across various sectors underscores its versatility and ability to leverage creativity.

Emphasis on sustainability. Gensler prioritises sustainability with its designs regardless of the geography. The firm integrates sustainable elements into its projects, embracing innovative technologies and design methodologies to create spaces that are both environmentally friendly and future-oriented.

Client-centric. Like WPP, Gensler’s success is built upon a client-centric approach, fostering strong collaborations and understanding each client’s unique vision. By maintaining a collaborative ethos, Gensler ensures that its designs not only meet but exceed expectations, resulting in spaces that are both aesthetically pleasing and functionally efficient. This is why Gensler consistently tops competitor listings.

You, and the Orange Economy

The orange economy accounts for over 50 million jobs worldwide, and many working in these jobs are under 30. It’s an eschewing of the ‘nine-to-five’ and the focus on the potential of tomorrow that creates new passionate generations in any industry which creativity touches.

With each of these five examples, we saw a three-pronged approach to the success underpinning each company. First, identify the idea, otherwise known as the competitive edge. Second, use what resources are available to enhance that idea, whether that is using film to advertise a character or using data to refine a design. Third, tailor that creativity to what the client truly needs.

It does not need to be from global companies, but from entrepreneurs. Arguably, Apple started with one man’s leadership, as did WPP. That’s the unique power of the orange economy–the untold value of a single great idea.

Next in this series of modern economy leaders, we’ll cover the top five private companies trailblazing the way for the marine ‘blue’ economy.

The author of this text, Jean Chalopin, is a global business leader with a background encompassing banking, biotech, and entertainment. Mr. Chalopin is Chairman of Deltec International Group,

The co-author of this text, Conor Scott, CFA, has been active in the wealth management industry since 2011. Mr. Scott is a Writer for Deltec International Group,

The views, thoughts, and opinions expressed in this text are solely the views of the authors, and do not necessarily reflect those of Deltec International Group, its subsidiaries, and/or its employees. This information should not be interpreted as an endorsement of cryptocurrency or any specific provider, service, or offering. It is not a recommendation to trade.