Cost-cutting will damage the industry in long-term

I share the despair of Jean-Louis Dumeu (pictured left, Design Week, The Top 100, June 2005) at the self-destruct cost-cutting of some major design consultancies. We have 24 clients in Russia, and in recent months quite a few of them have told us about large UK and international groups that have appeared desperate to win work from them by quoting fees that are a third less than our small consultancy. This cannot be viable in the long-term. My concern is that the willingness of these groups to take on unrealistic ‘logo pitches’ will devalue the work of the rest of us, who set out to develop strategic design that creates a serious management offer, rather than a low-value, cosmetic fix.

The test for everyone is to walk away from jobs where you know you are being asked to wave a magic wand, to meet unrealistic timescales and to have designs ready before a clear brief is established. Maybe this is a key advantage of being independent; we can walk away.

Our Russian clients appear to appreciate our honesty and proven experience, compared to big company hype.

Trust is the hardest brand value to achieve in a market not previously known for openness and transparency. Keeping promises is vital. Reputation is key within, what is still, a remarkably small number of business circles in Moscow. My advice to our competitors is to be careful in the rush to bring in business that it does not ruin either your, or more importantly, the sector’s, reputation.

Clive Woodger, managing director, SCG London, London SW6

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