Awards are not taking care of business-to-business

I was honoured to attend this year’s Design Week Awards as the guest of a supplier. The Planit 2000 venue was truly excellent and the evening’s proceedings were professionally organised and executed.

Yet, despite having the appearance of an all-encompassing retrospective of the very best in design in 2000, I could not help but notice a significant void.

This missing piece first became apparent as I sat with the fellow (and somewhat distinguished) designers on my table. I asked whether any of them were up for winning an award. The almost unanimous reply was ‘no chance, our clients are business-tobusiness’.

It is disheartening but it’s not that surprising. Those of us who are producing work for a corporate, rather than consumer audience are involved in some of the most challenging and exciting business sectors.

However, despite many consultancies producing extremely successful work, communicating to informed and discerning markets, it seems this work is often cast aside by the design industry.

A recent, post-award rifle through editions of some of the key design titles only served to confirm my fears, as I desperately struggled to find one mention of an agency’s success in the business-to-business sector.

Why is it that everybody gets really excited about the latest Kellogg’s breakfast cereal packaging, while a total revamp of the brand, collateral, website and ad campaign for an established player in a niche corporate field stirs little interest?

Surely it is the role of the media to report on the design industry in its entirety. And if this is the case, shouldn’t awards schemes seek to recognise the best examples of business-to-business design alongside its business-to-consumer cousin?

So many young designers are dazzled by the fmcg lights and the call of the Kellogg’s cockerel, but miss the chance to work on interesting and challenging projects within faster evolving sectors.

How fulfilling can it possibly be to promote another ’33 per cent extra free’ or another ‘whiter than white, blue wash with a fuller, fresher flavour’?

Paul Burgess

Creative director

Wilson Harvey

The Design Week Awards do attract and honour business-to-business work, in the identity, literature, print and digital media categories, although perhaps not to the extent that Paul Burgess would like.

To reinforce our coverage of that sector, next year we are going to divide the identity category into two, to cover projects generating fees above and below £100 000 – Ed.

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