Design bests advertising

Some 42 per cent of marketing managers, directors and brand managers said in a recent survey that they consider design of greater importance than either PR or advertising, with 32 per cent opting for PR as the most important discipline and 27 per cent for advertising.

The survey was commissioned by independent design company, WPA Pinfold, which questioned 312 marketing directors, managers and brand managers who took part by answering a questionnaire about their design-buying decisions.

The marketers chose creativity, innovation and direct contact with designers as being the most important factors in choosing a design company. More than 70 per cent stated they wanted to deal with a small, specialist operation, while only 21 per cent said they preferred working with a large integrated company. Despite this, the survey shows that the majority (56 per cent) of companies still see design simply as a service, with only a third of respondents viewing it as a consultancy role, although even fewer (six per cent) consider it a commodity.

The survey also highlights the growth in new media design, with 67 per cent of companies either using or intending to invest in Websites and 46 per cent in CD-ROM presentations. Interactive kiosks were, however, only being used or planned by ten per cent of companies.

On being asked which three functions would be the most significant for the future of their organisations, marketing was chosen most frequently (87 per cent of respondents) followed by PR, personnel and design. Functions such as sales, new product development and legal were seen as least significant.

The survey was intended to canvass opinion and identify current trends in the market requirements of those responsible for their company’s design and branding. Most of those who responded are using external consultants for a number of marketing disciplines, which helped produce some revealing indicators about perceived values and relationships.

Most respondents view design as a “service” although some see it as a “consultancy”. Design is seen as being of great importance to overall business effectiveness. In terms of design companies’ attributes, creativity is the factor of most importance and is viewed as essential by many respondents. Innovation and direct contact with designers are also essential or important to many.

Quality and price are prioritised by many respondents when buying a service. Those in larger organisations tend to see speed as more important, compared with smaller operations which rate price. Many respondents use, or intend to invest in, Websites or CD-ROM presentations.

Many see marketing as being of importance to the future development of their organisation. No other function was felt to be important to such large numbers of respondents.

When differentiating their products from those of competitors, respondents see the quality of their goods or services as very important. Branding and presentation were also relatively important, while price is considered quite important. Larger organisations were more likely to see branding as important than their smaller counterparts.

Half of the respondents recognise the importance of a design company’s involvement in developing their strategic or marketing plan.

Creative talent was seen to be an essential ingredient of the service. Clients believe a flat management structure is beneficial and like the idea of being able to contact both business managers and design teams.

The bulk of respondents prefer to have long-term relationships with companies, rather than change design teams regularly.

When being approached as a new business prospect, most clients prefer to receive a brochure or introductory letter. Visiting the design company, having a presentation or receiving an introductory telephone call are less favoured.

Time at initial presentation meetings is most usefully divided with the bulk – about 60 to 80 per cent – spent on discussions about the requirements at hand. Less than 40 per cent of the time should be focused on the design company itself.

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