While the Government is launching initiatives to keep the business world afloat by underwriting the loans banks make to small and medium-sized enterprises, design consultancies need to be equally proactive to support our area of business.
Quite apart from the fact that most consultancies are SMEs themselves and therefore eligible for these loans, there is an argument for making our SME clients aware that they could also take advantage of Government-backed loans to free up capital for investment in their brands and communications, to be in a stronger place than their competitors when the recession fades.
The crux of this argument lies in persuading clients of the importance of continuing to invest in their brands through the downturn.
As experts in branding and communication, we must speak with authority on the value of such activity.
Existing customer relationships are a brand’s most important asset, and these must be nurtured if a business is to survive the recession.
Indeed, research shows that companies that don’t invest in growth, research and development during a recession are 2.5 times more likely to fail than those that do.
Some clients understand this already. The Design Council has run a piece of research that reveals that 54 per cent of businesses are planning to use design to overcome the economic downturn. The council’s chief executive, David Kester, has said, ‘Recession is no time to be battening down the hatches. It’s the moment when design becomes absolutely critical to survival, growth and success – and it’s great to see that there’s a growing recognition of this within the business community.’
A freeing up of funds that enables brands to not only weather the storm, but also to come out stronger at the end of it, is surely a good thing for all parties concerned, and for our industry as a whole.
Brigid McMullen, Managing director, The Workroom, by e-mail