running words around
design education and visual communication
authored by chris m hughes

Out of the Studio and Into the Fire?

Wednesday, 13 January 2010

Design Week is about to publish an article on branding by Christian Schroeder, chief executive of Lambie-Nairn, the UK-based agency that famously designed the branding identity for Channel 4 and for O2.

Schroeder feels that designers should take control of pitching and marketing branding strategies to company bosses, rather than taking the more traditional route and passing the job onto advertising agencies.

Despite the long-held view that the strategic direction of brands is the responsibility of advertising agencies, Schroeder makes the valid point that the industry is in a transitional state due to the ever-increasing diversity of media platforms and channels. Maybe a redefinition of what designers do is in order. Schroeder complains that 'no-one is standing up and challenging the position of the advertising agency, even though the campaigns are becoming increasingly tactical and short-term, and this position is less tenable than ever.’

There's no doubt that many ad agencies are looking to short-term gain rather than focusing on the longevity of a brand.

But that's not the whole picture.

Schroeder accepts that we (designers) are in the business of ideas that have a commercial value, but so are the ad agencies and the branding managers. They are merely responding to the current economic climate. As soon as things perk up again, campaigns will loosen up and look to the longer term.

Creatives have enough on their plate satisfying client needs without moving into the business-end of the industry. No-one would dispute that creatives do their best work when the only thing they have to worry about outside of the studio is what pub to meet in at 5pm.

There are implications for education as well - the 'communities-of-practice' approach, which I'm an advocate of, emphasises collaborative studio work, which helps students share ideas, develop creative best practices, and understand the most productive way to define and develop their role in the industry.

It seems to me that bypassing ad agencies will lumber creatives with a bunch of pressurised responsibilities that interfere with the design process, and ultimately detract from the fun of it.

Design Week
Brand New