Karina Beasley Managing Director, Gabriele Skelton

We may be in for a tough time in 2009, but exercise positivity, flexibility and willingness to adapt in order to thrive, and the design and branding industry has an opportunity to weather the storm

I don’t know about anyone else, but the latter part of 2008 has been nothing short of an eye opener. Or, more aptly, a poke in the eye. I’ve never been a fan of the ‘c’ word, as in ‘credit crunch’, but it’s going to be here for a while and it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know that for many, 2009 will be an even tougher challenge than 2008. On top of that, and in the words of Jonathan Ross, the ‘wecession’ has kicked in. Am I sounding pessimistic yet? Before you decide, read on…

On the contrary – 2009 will, indeed, be a challenge, and there lies my point. Yes, tough times are ahead and many will never have experienced anything like this before. I haven’t, and neither have many of my contemporaries, but we’re learning fast and there’s a strange satisfaction about finding a new energy, new ideas, rethinking how you work and putting that into practice. And yes, I do believe it will make a person or a company stronger if they adapt and look forward, not back.

In fact, creativity and flexibility will be key, plus the desire to change.


From a recruitment point of view, there are more people looking for work and fewer jobs, so we have to think outside the box – not just to help freelances or those made redundant to get back on their feet, but also to ensure that our clients don’t lose out on future talent. Candidates need to be more flexible too and the next year is likely to see salaries level out, particularly within the digital market, where many would say they have been over-inflated for some time. It’s not all doom and gloom though and online marketing and branding continue to grow, albeit at a reduced pace, as do more traditional media.


The design and branding industry is stronger than it was even in the last downturn seven years ago. Yes, this one has come much more quickly than we anticipated, but there are many groups that will continue to ride the storm, particularly in areas like corporate branding, public-sector communications and packaging.

Clients are more likely to cut back on their advertising and marketing spend as branding lasts longer and is relatively inexpensive in comparison. Yes, clients will want more for their money now, and they are displaying clear signs of acting cautiously, which will undoubtedly affect the design industry. However, I believe that if design groups can sharpen up and deliver stronger, more insightful solutions to a communication problem, they will come out winning.


In a brand-saturated market, it’s the trusted brands that will survive and the design industry is the one that will ensure that these brands stay intact. A well-known global brand director was quoted as saying that ‘a recession doubles the necessity to be really focused’.

Teams will need to pull together, and are likely to be reinvigorated and more passionate about their craft too. I believe that 2009 will witness some fantastic creative work that will truly raise the benchmark and help us, our clients and our fabulous candidates weather this storm.

It’s a time to embrace team spirit, renewed passion, creativity and ideas, so I say, ‘bring it on and let’s come out winning’.

Here’s to a fighting New Year…

Sponsored by Gabriele Skelton

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