How To Crush The Competition.

By Gemma 


This tweet has really been playing on my mind. 

The creative industry must be the nicest, in what other one would bigging up and sharing your competition’s work be good business sense?

James Burlinson ‏@Burlisaurus

I genuinely can’t think of any other industry which spends so much time hunting out the competition in order to praise it. 

We shouldn’t really. There’s no money for art, the theatres are burning and they probably won’t need that season brochure after all. Yet for all the hand wringing and wailing, clients are still searching for ways to spend their money. The wheels haven’t fallen off just yet. 

If we had any sense at all, we’d devote all of our free time to CRUSHING the OPPOSITION. We’d strategise stealing your clients, we’d print up your cringiest tweets onto off white foil blocked 300gsm and hand deliver them to the press, we’d egg your offices and key your car. 

But we don’t. Instead of wishing you’d burn we tell everyone how fabulous you are. It makes no sense. I know for a fact that if I pulled my finger out I could convert at least two of our followers into clients. Instead, I hunt out your best work and tell them about it. I include examples of your most inspiring work in my kick off meeting moodboards and I frame your prints for the studio. 

I like to use the construction worker analogy when complaining about good-for-your-profile budgets (you know, the one about asking a plumber to fit your bathroom for the ‘exposure’). It’s an analogy that works both ways. Who’s ever heard of a builder tweeting a photo of a particularly nice extension she’s seen. 

I’ve talked a lot about generosity in the past, but I’ve only ever really seen it as something we extend to our clients, potential clients and emerging talent. Meaning, people from whom we can benefit or (presently) don’t fear as a threat. I’ve never really thought about how much generosity all of us, as an industry extend to our contemporaries- the designers we compete against for work, for space in the magazines and for attention from the bloggers. 

I know it’s not all high fives and cuddles. There are some truly god-awful designers out there. But they cross our paths so infrequently as to not really concern us, and even excite us with their rubishness. They cross our paths so infrequently as to not really upset the borders of our filter bubble. That remains fresh and crisp and beautifully laid out, full of clever concepts and luxury print finishes. Full of talented designers who make us jealous and amazed at the same time. 

What can we gain from presenting our dream clients with a buffet of brilliant design? Is there a way to benefit from repping the comp? I don’t think there is, but to stop would be disastrous. I know my Klout score, one tweet of praise from @WellMade isn’t going to catapult you into the design stratosphere, but it might make you feel good about your work for a fleeting moment. It sure as hell works for us.

A two line email from someone we never have and probably never will meet has the power to fix a rubbish day. A two word tweet (‘that’s nice’) is enough to remind us how insanely lucky we are to be in cahoots and not competition with our contemporaries.