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I refer to the article “Pack Knacks” (MW September 22). There are enough constraints and limitations put on designers in an attempt to bring them to heel, so why do design companies shoot themselves in the foot with a 13-point, uncreative plan? It’s the old chestnut: if you can develop the formula you will deliver the goods. Perhaps this is why so many brands are similar. The intention to differentiate is lost among a myriad of preconceptions.

Consultants employ quasi-scientific methodologies “designed” to create a comfort factor, giving a false sense of security, at their peril. Surely we account directors do not need to substantiate our own positions by providing this jargon. Design is not a science – driven by formulae – to be used to provide the industry with its respectability, but a creative endeavour.

Clients go to a design company because there is a problem and they are looking for a solution. If the methodology is too tight, the solution will be too rigid and the creativity lost. Intuitively, Anita Roddick chose the (now world famous) name “The Body Shop” because it appealed to her after having seen it in another context – the US car industry. If the 13-point plan had been used the name would have been thrown out for sounding too much like a sex shop or funeral directors – issues now forgotten.

Formulae ultimately breed cynicism. In a country where designers are striving to achieve proper recognition from marketers, can design companies really sustain respectability by justifying and post-rationalising their design concepts through formulae? Planning is, of course, essential. But devising a specific plan and method for each project creates the right balance between the strategic and creative development. The key to effective creative solutions is to tailor a strategic plan to each and every project. It should always be in the back of our minds to move forward through original thought. We should be looking for ways of communicating that move things on rather than holding them back. Otherwise we will be responsible for creating and perpetuating an environment that recycles ideas and stifles innovation.

Jo Richley

Account director

Crescent Lodge Design

London N1

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