Branding more effective than PR, say marketers

Design is a more effective marketing tool than public relations or advertising, though many clients still regard it as having a service rather than a consultancy function, according to a new survey.

The WPA Pinfold Design Survey, conducted by the Leeds design group, identifies branding as the second most important factor in differentiating a product or service, after quality.

Of the 312 marketing managers, directors and brand managers who responded, 42 per cent consider design to be the most important marketing tool, compared to 32 per cent for PR and 27 per cent for advertising. But 56 per cent still see design simply as a service with only a third viewing it as a consultancy role.

The marketers look for creativity, innovation and direct contact with designers when selecting a consultancy and 71 per cent prefer smaller consultancies – preferably with a flat management structure, according to the findings.

“A flat management structure does away with the traditional hierarchy in which designers tend to come near the bottom. While clients still want to deal with account managers, they also want to deal directly with the designer who will be working on the project,” says WPA Pinfold business manager Liz Waterhouse.

In terms of product differentiation, quality is seen as the most important factor with 75 per cent viewing it as very important. Branding is regarded as very important by 53 per cent of respondents, presentation by 48 per cent and price by 33 per cent.

WPA Pinfold has belatedly changed its name from Walker Pinfold Associates after partner Peter Walker left the group several years ago. The 20-strong consultancy is now owned entirely by Myles Pinfold.

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