Let’s make the recession an era of confidence and drive

It is great to have a designer speaking out so fervently about the opportunities the current economic downturn presents. In this issue, The Team chief executive Julian Grice urges designers to seize the moment and clients to turf out the accountants and take the odd risk (see Business Insight, page 22).

Too often design group heads shy away from chances to show what design can achieve when times are tough. There is not enough of the confidence – or ‘courage’, as Grice would have it – traditionally rife in the ad industry or among management consultants. Yet design, when embraced in the round as The Team’s recent inclusion of elements of the old Loewy Brand Communications aims to encourage, can make a positive impact on customer attitudes and business performance. Clients need to be more fully appraised of this.

Anecdotal evidence suggests that some of the business sectors hardest hit by recession are turning to design to help them through. Consultancies with clients in financial services, for example, are cautiously optimistic that work will continue to flow, while those in the public services arena are protected in part by budgets already committed to projects.

There may be a slowdown in these areas, with some projects delayed, but things aren’t expected to grind to a halt in the foreseeable future.

It is a question of design taking more of a leadership stance. The past few years have seen key players obtaining entrance to UK boardrooms and winning big projects overseas that demand a deeper relationship with the client than that of ‘supplier’. The foundations are there to be built on.

Recessions are invariably painful, but a positive outcome for design has been the raft of high-calibre start-ups formed by people cut loose by bigger groups forced to downsize, or who simply believe that now is the time to take a chance. Let’s hope their drive helps to boost design and persuade a few clients that it is a worthwhile investment.

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