Does it pay to be a design specialist?

There are no absolutes when it comes to branding, but maintaing a dialogue with consumers with a consistent tone of voice acorss all touchpoints can be a great start. Here, as part of a YouTube series for Computer Arts, Brand Impact Award judges Bruce Duckworth and Mark Bonner discuss the state of branding in 2016 and what agencies need to do to survive and thrive, and if specialising can help you along the way...

01. You can collaborate and conquer

“Generalist or specialist? I think we’ve probably ended up being specialists, but we have to collaborate with other suppliers; we have to collaborate with other agencies; and we have to be generous and supportive to those people,” reflects Bruce Duckworth. “My personal view is: be a specialist, and mix with other specialists as required. Be brilliant at everything you do, and most of all, be generous.”

02. Generalists are better placed to think more holistically...

“I feel it’s a bit like branding itself,” reflects Mark Bonner. “There’s a balance we’re all trying to strike. It’s wonderfully rewarding to be able to work in a diverse way; to be making films, to be working in print, to be working in sound design, or designing environments – I love the diversity of what we can do today. Social media, online, it’s such a cloud of opportunities.” 

03. ...but the idea is still king

Bonner goes on to make an interesting distinction: in a multi-disclipinary world, while an agency can be a total one-stop-shop generalist in terms of techniques, technology and media used to realise an idea, finding that killer idea in the first place is as specialist as it comes. “When you zoom out of all of that exciting variety, the idea – the thinking – is right at the heart of that cloud, and I think we are trying to be specialists in that,” he adds. “Having great ideas is still a specialist area, thank god.” 

04. Either way, stand up for design

For Duckworth, whether you’re a specialist or a generalist is by-the-by – the important thing is to blow the trumpet for the industry as a whole. “Designers need to stand up for design,” he urges. “We need to have a voice, and the confidence to realise that we are part of the success of modern brands today. Stand up, be counted, make your presence felt and go for it.”

Book your Brand Impact Awards tickets

Join the world's top agencies at the Brand Impact Awards in September

Join the world's top agencies at the Brand Impact Awards in September

Computer Arts' Brand Impact Awards reward the very best branding from around the world. Now in its third  year, the scheme's rich heritage of past winners represent the cream of the global branding industry. This year, the Brand Impact Awards received over 160 entries, with 47 projects from 33 different agencies made the shortlist.

The winning and highly commended projects will be revealed at the third-annual Brand Impact Awards ceremony at the Ham Yard Hotel, London, on 8 September. So book your tickets now to join the world's top agencies and discover 2016's big winners.

Thank you for reading 5 articles this month* Join now for unlimited access

Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription

Join now for unlimited access

Try first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

Nick Carson

Nick is a content strategist and copywriter. He has worked with world-class agencies including Superunion, Wolff Olins and Vault49 on brand storytelling, tone of voice and verbal strategy for global brands such as Virgin, Pepsi and TikTok. Nick launched the Brand Impact Awards in 2013 while editor of Computer Arts, and remains chair of judges. He's written for Creative Bloq on design and branding matters since the site's launch.