The new realism

Creativity and increased sales don’t always go hand-in-hand, but that could be changing. Lynda Relph-Knight is heartened to see more design groups competing for places in the cumulative effectiveness awards tables

In an ideal world, effectiveness charts would mirror those based on creative excellence. Great design looks good, smacks of innovation and is beautifully executed, but makes commercial sense, too.

Sadly, this world isn’t ideal, and though a handful of consultancies, internationally renowned for their creativity, rank high for the commercial performance of their designs and make it to the top of the effectiveness charts – Pearlfisher, Elmwood and Red Bee Media, for example – we still have a way to go before most design groups and their clients see the merit in entering both types of prize scheme.

The effectiveness charts are based on the past three years’ results of the Design Business Association’s Design Effectiveness Awards. We don’t include points for the DBA’s International and Materials prizes – won respectively this year by Shoal Creative and Product Design Technologies for Fellowes, and Pearson Lloyd for the Virgin Atlantic Super Seat – as they are not as much about the work. But we give the Grand Prix, won by Red Bee Media for its branding of TV channel Dave, top billing, with a 25-point loading.

Last year, the DBA changed the way it organised its awards, allocating Gold, Silver and Bronze prizes in place of the old winner, commended and shortlisted format. We have accommodated this change, equating points for the new honours with the weighting we gave the old ones – ten for Gold, five for Silver and three for Bronze.

Because our charts are based on three years’ results, not all of this year’s winners, announced earlier this month, make it into the top 20 (see below), but the Gold winners do.

Taking Gold this year are Landor Associates for Morrisons supermarket branding, Coley Porter Bell for Comfort, Red Bee Media for Dave, and Jones Knowles Ritchie for its continuing projects for Molton Brown. Newcomers to the charts on the strength of this year’s wins are Applied Information Group for Legible London, Good Creative for Core, Pearson Lloyd for Virgin Atlantic, Shoal Creative and PDT for Fellowes, and Tayburn for Nairn’s.

In the past, the effectiveness awards have tended to attract their regulars, such as Elmwood, Lewis Moberly and The Team, and they remain faithful to the cause. One of the great things this year is the number of new names in the mix, such as Applied Information Group and Pearson Lloyd. Word is getting out that the importance of showing effectiveness in design is growing, which is great news.

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