Do you conform to these designer stereotypes?

New research has revealed some of the most common stereotypes clients hold about their design consultancies.

All Designers are Wankers poster by Build
All Designers are Wankers poster by Build

A survey carried out by business consultancy Up to the Light and supported by the Design Business Association has revealed four of the most common stereotypes clients hold about designers. These are – in no particular order:

• The consultancy is based in a “London Ivory Tower”. This is a consultancy that never leaves the M25 bubble and is “totally out of touch with reality” and doesn’t understand “real consumers”.

• They’re “Prima Donnas”. This is a consultancy which is only interested in its own portfolio and doesn’t understand commercial realities.

• They don’t have any “follow through”. This is a consultancy whose concepts might be great but who let themselves down by not making it happen – and therefore cause their client extra work and aggravation.

• “Strategy Overkill”. This is the consultancy that bombards their client with strategy – but the creative execution of the strategy can disappoint.

Up to the Light founder and report author Jonathan Kirk says: “These are just a few examples but what is striking is how easily clients can begin to place their consultancy into a stereotype. Once there, negative perceptions can be hard to shift.”

The report also revealed several issues around client relationships, including that 61 per cent of clients were not aware of their consultancy’s full skill set and 74 per cent believe their consultancy could be “more generally proactive” in their approach.

Meanwhile just 11 per cent of clients say their design consultancy “regularly exceeds their expectations”.

There was more positive news in the survey as well, including that 78 per cent of clients believe their chemistry with the consultancy to be “very good” and 80 per cent of clients “look forward to meetings” with their design consultancy.

Kirk says: “By and large, design consultancy principals and staff are seen as friendly, approachable and personable… A design consultancy meeting can be a fun part of the client’s day.”

The report was compiled from 420 interviews with clients from a range of sectors, including supermarkets, financial services and charities.


You can read the report in full at

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