Is design treading in the footsteps of the ad industry?

In common with most of the industry, I enjoyed browsing through last month’s Top 100 league tables. They are, after all, one of the only vehicles through which we receive an overview of the changing face of the design sector.

This time round, I was struck more forcibly than ever by the increasing irrelevance of the core UK Top 100 table to many of us, in contrast to the specialist lists, which grow more interesting year on year.

It is not useful to us as brand/ identity consultants to know where we stand in relation to a pure product design company. Or, indeed, to compare ourselves with an events specialist such as Jack Morton Worldwide, with 1150 of its 1295 staff overseas. Our business is more akin to advertising than any of these.

One general trend that stands out this year is the diminishing percentage of actual designers working in our businesses.

The survey shows that only 37 per cent of design consultancy employees are now designers. I am sure that this percentage was greater five years ago. Certainly, it was a decade back.

This seems a further vindication of the frequently aired theory that we are fated to follow in the ‘ten years cold footsteps’ of the advertising business to which the creative function has become a small (though admittedly crucial) part of this process.

Indeed, given that the account management and business strategists on both sides of the advertising/ design divide are often completely interchangeable, we differ from each other to a lesser and lesser degree.

It would be interesting to find out what percentage of the advertising business today is made up of creatives.

Pete Green

Chief executive


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