The Friday interview: Nick Cloake, the Graphic Design Business Association

5 Oct 2007

Most Irish SMEs believe good design is vital but only 15pc plan to increase investment. Nick Cloake is strategic director of the Graphic Design Business Association.

As email and the internet emphasise the importance of brand image, are Irish businesses investing enough in graphic design?

78pc of businesses say design is important yet only 15pc plan to increase investment. But typically for SMEs what they look like or what their brand suggests may be the only thing that differentiates them from the competition.

Are graphic designers doing enough to convince businesses to invest in design?

We’re pictured as long-haired guys with computers smoking pot, but that’s only on Mondays! The rest of the time we’re facilitating businesses in creating a brand identity.

For example, if you write a new book you’d need a cover to help sell it. As an industry, we are not very good at convincing people of the importance of good design.

What is the cost of failure to invest in design?

More than ever the internet is becoming the first point of contact for many people and companies.

One of the most ubiquitous pieces of technology in the business world is PowerPoint.

But as we speak there are 100,000 people out there viewing PowerPoint presentations and most of these employ no visual presentation of the brand. These are lost opportunities.

What sectors of Irish business are using graphic design to boost business?

The Irish construction sector has woken up to the benefits of design. It has invested over €1bn in design strategies over the past five years.

Just look up to the sky and see carefully branded cranes or highly visual and creative hoarding boards.

How has technology helped the graphic design business itself?

Without technology I would need a building four times the size of the one I’m in and a staff of 250.

What work will the Graphic Design Business Association be doing to encourage better uptake and use of design by firms?

We’re going to spend the next decade informing people why design adds to the bottom line and like anything we’ve got to make a worthwhile argument why it’s important.

Everything that’s happening now — email signatures, websites, PowerPoint presentations — is graphic. Effectively the internet is a good graphics system.

By John Kennedy

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