Honesty is the key to consultancy individuality

Let’s hope that the Comment (DW 14 November), Retain your individuality in the race to win new clients, acts as a wake-up call to the design industry.

We all know it is true from our practical day-to-day work, but some consultancies may be surprised to find they can actually let clients in on the secret.

An experienced design consultancy will be expert in both branding and strategic issues, but it’s pointless to insist on always sailing your ship under these flags. It forces every design project to become far more extensive and complex than necessary and ultimately undermines the credibility of the industry, not to mention loses you jobs when times get tougher.

Clients won’t be fooled into believing they are embarking on a rebranding and strategic exercise when all the commissioned consultancy is doing is updating a pack or tweaking a logo.

On two occasions in the past couple of months I have been asked if our consultancy will free-pitch on the basis that local companies will.

It’s not that the client wants to avoid paying a fair price for good design. Rather that if it can get two or three jobs done for the same money then it will feel it’s a wiser use of budget.

There may have been a time when some consultancies tried to build value into their offer by dressing up design as other things. And it may have helped to shake up perceptions of this part of the marketing mix, but now it’s time for a new honesty.

Adrian Whitefoord

Partner

Pemberton & Whitefoord

London NW1

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