The difference between six and 11? A COI brief

So, the Central Office of Information is reviewing its roster of consultancies for design services, splitting it into three new frameworks (News, DW 24 September).

COI creative director Fanny Sigler said, ‘We need a really good mix of agencies across all the lots to respond to the variety of briefs that we handle from across the public sector.’

We thought this sounded interesting and something we should aim to be on, as this is a field that we specialise and have a lot of experience in.

However, as we started to go through this process, the second document we opened – A Guide to COI’s Brand and Brand Identity Framework – referred to the mandatory requirement that any bidding organisation must have more than ten employees.

I find this fascinating. Who decides on the capacity and how is this arrived at? What difference does this make to a design consultancy’s ability to deliver a relevant solution?

Of all the consultancies I admire, and are equally respected in the industry, I can’t think of many that have more than ten employees.

Surely this contradicts Siegler’s assertion that the COI needs ‘a really good mix of agencies’?

We encountered a similar scenario after the London 2012 identity was launched, when the organiser asked for interested parties to apply to be on the roster. Our turnover was deemed not big enough.

How does this help the vibrant, smaller design community which is becoming the model for consultancies in these unsure times? Our model is based on being expert in what we do and collaborating with others who excel in what they do, and not having different skill sets all under one, expensive roof.
We think this is better for clients and results in the most relevant, engaging solutions.

So why should we, as a team of six, experienced and able to collaborate and manage other skill sets in response to a brief, be excluded at the first stage?
Jonathon Jeffrey, Co-founder, Bibliotheque Design, by e-mail

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