Positive shifts in a year of bridge-building

As we compile this year’s Top 100 consultancy charts for publication next month, we’re struck by the way the design business is changing. It’s not just that workload is up for most major players, it’s that they are staking out new territories in terms of expertise or international spread, coming from a position of post-recessionary strength.

So fundamental are the shifts that it’s hard to quantify the performance of some consultancies. International groups like Landor are never easy to compare with wholly UK groups and it’s particularly hard now that some of them are consolidating their European business to take in the UK. And marketing services megagroups are tending to integrate their offer across member companies. Take WPP, which is pushing its identity business worldwide under the Enterprise Identity Group brand and is reluctant to single out its UK identity company Sampson Tyrrell Enterprise.

It makes it hard for us to compile a comprehensive table, but it is good news for the business of design. With the great and the good breaching the hurdles globally, it lays the path open for smaller concerns to follow.

Better news though is that barriers are breaking down between design and advertising. The launch last week of DMB&B Design as a separate entity within the advertising group is a welcome move indeed to those of us keen to see better creative standards in design (see News, page 5). We’ve seen creative excellence from consultancies that straddle advertising and design before – Imagination and The Partners, for example – and expect no less from this new outfit.

DMB&B is not the first ad agency to spawn a design group. But the aim of David Mace and Carl Sherriff to create a strong ideas-based design business couldn’t be better. One more player in the field, getting the design message through to its parent’s advertising clients (among others), and giving them the quality they’re used to, can only help bridge the gap in understanding the value of good design.

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