Current identity work is of detriment to our industry

I note the article written by Richard Clayton (DW 18 July) along with the ongoing press attention given to the likes of Consignia, Monday, and Aviva among others. Following this, I feel the design industry has achieved its nirvana – to be topical and newsworthy. And, I have to say, we deserve it. Criticism that is.

Increasingly, identity work has been uninspired and lacking integrity. The ‘design’ industry has duped its clients and dealt-out new identities that are derived from the application of style and as a result they are undifferentiating pieces of whimsy. Where is the corporate value in that?

How can I, the managing director of an identity group, say such things? I can say it because I think that it’s appalling and it’s a rip-off. Identities are a fantastic communication tool that can be wielded by corporate management to help them achieve their corporate ambition. And they are not cheap.

If you go to a shop and buy something and it doesn’t work then you can legally ask for it to be repaired for free or have your money refunded. I wonder if this principle was applied to branding then would we be subjected to the quality of work that is currently traded as branding or corporate identity?

Great identities recognise the ambition of the company that they represent and help project that to their audiences. And to do that successfully they are driven by two things: an original creative thought and by a clear understanding of the corporate strategy.

So, to create these great identities you need designers who understand, and are excited by, those same two things – ideas and strategy.

Because they are extremely hard to find, the design industry has let ‘stylists’ loose on creating identities with the result that the public now take the piss out of it and put the pseudo-professionals in our industry in danger of sitting alongside estate agents and car salesmen in levels of public loathing.

I used to say that ‘the corporate logo is the single most precious communication tool that a company can have’. But now I’m not so sure. In fact I’m so unsure about it that far from reaching our nirvana we are in danger of reaching our nadir.

Tim Greenhill

Managing director

Basten Greenhill Andrews

London WC2

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