Client conservatism stems from misinformation

I agree with Tim Rich (Private View, DW 1 August) that clearer distinctions are needed in the creative industry to define what we are trying to accomplish, create and ultimately sell – but I don’t believe it’s limited to identity. Perhaps we should perceive this trend as an industry-wide ‘viral infection’.

The confusion is the direct result of years of misinformation and overclaim. Not only does this potentially devalue the industry as a whole, it has the capacity to commoditise a set of skills that should be celebrated.

The risk of hiding behind jargon and academic insight is that each consultancy might lose the individuality it has carefully crafted. Anyone in design can see that clients are beginning to make decisions based not on culture fit, personality or ability, but on which has the most boxes ticked. How often have I approached a client to introduce our services only to be told that unless we’ve done it before, we’d face an uphill struggle. It’s an indictment of how wary clients are of the creative and commercial equity consultancies offer.

I know my group is capable of taking on almost any design brief, but client conservatism is rife. How are we to grow our business when we have to fight this? If we avoid these issues, we are doing ourselves no favours in cultivating a business culture where honesty, integrity and aspiration are valuable and defining selling points.

I, like many of my peers, represent design to brand owners. Considering the ‘flannel’ prevalent in the marketplace and the gap between the often mooted ‘clarity’ of the creative industries’ thinking and the amount of jargon used, it is no surprise that clients feel that we’re standing on intellectual soapboxes or failing to deliver originality.

Most clients are marketing literate and capable of understanding what consumers want. I therefore suggest we strengthen our position by leaving marketing jargon to marketing professionals and adopt a more intuitive language and business practice that enable the client to learn new tricks from us.

Chris Heap

Marketing manager

Butcher & Gundersen

London W4

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