Free-pitching is not just for large consultancies

I would hate to think that any young designer, or client for that matter, reading Rebecca Bletcher’s letter ‘Is free-pitching a case of survival of the fittest?’ might think that only larger consultancies take a stance on this practice (many don’t), or that only those ‘with the keenest creative edge can expect to survive’ (Letters, DW 17 November).

Small practices also take a stance and I have been mentoring one such practice in Nottingham over the past year. Its relationship with clients has become more secure as a direct result of its stance on such matters, and it doesn’t just rely on its credentials (which I might add are very limited as it is a young practice), but on their ability to interrogate the brief before the team start work and agrees to do the job.

This process often gives it the opportunity to display its ‘creative’ potential by asking the right questions in the first place. Often, and perhaps most importantly, that wins it respect and future work, for which it then does not have to pitch. Conversely, it does not proceed with any further involvement if the client is unable to appreciate such a level of ‘professional’ engagement.

We might take the view that this process is beyond the ability of some ‘design practices’, and is not favoured by some clients, as it often requires them to think harder about their requirements (a key benefit of working with a designer on a regular basis).

It seems to me the ‘survival-of-the-fittest’ issue mentioned should be added to the many letters that have appeared in this column over the years that do nothing but suggest that this is standard practice, and therefore we should all participate in it.

It is not. Designers should not and do not have to. And those indulging in it, ‘designers’ and clients alike, might ask themselves why they are having to do it so often.

Robert Harland, Senior lecturer in graphic design, The Nottingham Trent School of Art and Design, Nottingham NG1 3QY

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