Designers think what they do is important: clients don’t
DESIGNERS ARE a frustrated lot. While they think design is hugely important to business success, their clients – who are paying for it – don’t. A new survey reports 84% in the marketing field said design was “extremely important” to economic growth. Good design “does the job of changing perceptions and mindsets”, said one enthusiastic respondent.
However, designers and marketers don’t believe that view is shared by the business community. Two-thirds of the most positive people in the sample complained clients lacked understanding about design and failed to provide recognition for it. Design is perceived to be expensive, short of skills and under-resourced.
It seems that for most people in business, good design is nice to have but not viewed as a vital business skill. We’re a long way from the kind of recognition accorded to design in Britain, which under Tony Blair’s Labour government became a design-led economy.
The survey was conducted by IpsosMarkinor on behalf of Think, the design industry body. The problem, it found, is that designers don’t know how to prove their own worth. A significant portion of the negative decision-makers believes the value of design is poorly communicated. That’s what it regards as its biggest challenge.
The survey was conducted among 400 people working in marketing, communications and design. So bear in mind it reports the designers’ views on the one hand and, at a step removed, their perception of their clients’ views on the other.
“We tend to be independent and inwardly focused, concerned with our own issues rather than combining and building our efforts to drive a professional reputation based on the impact we have on business and therefore the economy,” says Think chair Glenda Venn. “Other emerging market players, such as India, have elevated the status of professional design to a level where they have a national design policy.”
What’s clearly badly needed is the kind of empirical proof that the British have. According to the British Design Council, shares in design-led businesses have outperformed the London Stock Exchange’s top 100 index by more than 200% over the past decade.
In South Africa we have the belief but not the proof. The marketers and designers themselves believe design has a strong