I can only but agree with Jonathan’s Ford’s article, and his call to action regards unified terms of business and appointment procedures within the commercial design consultancy sector.
The British Design Initiative has recognised the lack of business terms and conditions as a barrier to the professional status and overall value of the design sector and responded to it.
Last year it launched Professional Pitch in partnership with the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising, Acid and others. This sets out professional appointment procedures for design buyers, as well as issues such as intellectual property rights.
It also engaged Harbottle & Lewis LLP to assist with the production of terms and conditions of business, pitch guidelines and an IPR helpline to be made available to all BDI members.
So instead of putting design groups and their respective representative bodies through the exercise of re-inventing the wheel, I urge them all to assess what is currently available and, if necessary, to provide suggestions for improvement for the benefit of the design industry and clients as a whole.
I would also like to point out to all consultancies that terms and conditions of business, or codes of conduct, or any other professional documentation and professional standards, will only become accepted by clients if a) they provide a balance between consultancy and client business needs and b) if the design industry stands together and implements and upholds the terms without faltering at the first whiff of an opportunity to outmanoeuvre their peers, by undercutting or waiving the agreed standards.
Architects, ad agencies, photographers and illustrators and others all have far better terms of business and codes of conduct in place than the commercial design sector. They are effective because the majority of businesses are adhering to them.
If design is to make any headway in 2005 to improve its trading conditions and its professional status, then it really does need to stand with its peer groups and take responsibility for providing client organisations with clear terms and conditions of business and service guarantees.
Maxine J Horn
Chief executive officer
British Design Initiative
Brighton BN1 4AE