In-house knowledge can be tough to beat

I totally agree with both Peter Spence and Mark Fanthorpe’s viewpoints (Letters, DW 10 March).

Having spent my formative years working for consultancies, I’ve enjoyed the challenges of working in and managing in-house design teams for corporate organisations for the past nine years.

Yes, my teams have included former secretaries and desktop publishing step-ups who’ve developed their creative skills, but in my experience these people have always been far outweighed by the number of genuinely talented craftspeople capable of achieving the very best results from their company’s brand identity system.

On the inevitable occasions where a senior marketing manager has informed me that I must pitch my team’s best work against the work of an outside consultancy, my stars have shone and been awarded the work each and every time.

Of course, this is not to suggest that one group is more or less talented than the other. But it does perhaps demonstrate that a well-motivated and talented group of in-house designers will have the edge in such scenarios. Their intimate appreciation of the company, its brand and the tone required, combined with their finely honed influencing skills, will be difficult to beat. It’s when a step-change and truly fresh thinking is required that the door creaks ajar for the consultancies to step inside and work their magic.

Spence’s comment that industry engagement with in-house designers is somewhat barred was particularly interesting – perhaps it’s time that Design Week acted to provide more exposure for the in-house stars?

Ashley Woodham, Design and brand manager, Corporate Communications Norton Rose LLP, London SE1

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