The Case for Quality by Design

Blog post by Chris Searson, Executive Chairman of MBC Group.

So you want to be a designer? Think eye-catching images, well-designed sets and stylish layout and a client who is happy to pay whatever it costs. Think again. I used to be in the navy. We had lots of rules. We had standards too. Since moving over into the creative sector 25 years ago I have enjoyed no longer having rules (at least not in the same way) but I do believe in standards. Even writing this sounds a tad old-fashioned. What I mean is just because we are creatives doesn’t mean what you deliver shouldn’t be work of a certain standard. Every time you produce a piece of work the client isn’t just judging you, he or she is judging the industry. If you think about some of the stereotypes you have of certain sectors you will know what I mean.

The problem with design is that anyone can claim to be a designer. Cheaper software means people with little if any industry training can give themselves that label. If they don’t do the job to the satisfaction of the client then they won’t get paid and/or the client won’t use them again. “Tough”, you might think, but what does that have to do with the industry in general? Well I believe it has a huge impact on our sector. Now we at MBC Group have set out those thoughts in a white paper – Quality by Design.

Brand Britannia is well-known and well-respected worldwide. Our creative talent has helped MBC Group win and keep winning orders from some fantastic clients with global reputations. People look to the UK for creativity. It’s what we are good at, it’s what we do, and it’s worth almost £2.5billion to the UK economy. And it’s growing.

If the standards of our creative work fall short that has an impact on the whole sector and on all of us who work in the field of design. I don’t want that to happen. But who is going to set the standard?

There are plenty of membership bodies out there for you to join as a designer. In fact I would argue there are almost too many. Some are charities others are trade bodies, government agencies, not for profit and so on. Europe has also got involved with a variety of design associations.

But for a client on the outside looking in, how can they decide who’s the best person to do the job? Price does of course play a part. However it isn’t just about money. A start-up may well be the right person to take on the job but only if their standards are those of the industry and reflect well on our sector.

So what can we do about it? I believe we need a single, iconic design quality mark. A badge of honour which says this person or company can do the job and this proves it. How we get that is now open for debate.

Brand Britannia needs to be kept safe.

Andy Scarth
Andy Scarth

Group Creative Director at MBC.