I was talking to someone recently about the process of competing for clients and how far, or even if, we should accommodate what might be viewed as over-the-top requirements to win their business. And that got me thinking about client ethics and our role in the overall functioning of our society.
Not to be too goody two-shoes but I don’t know that we state this often enough: Advertising, design, marketing, and PR firms are among the foundational pillars of our free and functional capitalist republic.
In reference to that role, I personally believe it is our responsibility not only to be honest advocates for the products, services, and ideas we represent—but to protect the consumer from sellers who might employ our abilities to deceive or harm them. Helping a disingenuous or dishonest client makes us equally disingenuous or dishonest.
My point is, we are not merely translators, in many ways, through the materials we create, we actually define the profile of the organization . We may not be legally responsible for a particular piece of information or claim, but we are responsible to our fellow citizens to be truthful and honest.
When a copywriter writes, for example, “We treat our customer as we would want to be treated ourselves,” (and the client approves it) they establish a standard on behalf of the organization that the prospect will hopefully read and come to expect. It’s a subtle thing, but if the client didn’t pay much attention to customer service, it wouldn’t be smart to publish the claim. By including that line, the writer has not only projected a standard on the business, they have potentially played a part in improving the customer experience.
Building a brand is a cooperative effort with the client and designers, copywriters, photographers, illustrators, administrators, managers, and others who contribute to crafting the message and establishing the public face of an organization. They, as a group, often play an important role in the very functioning of that organization.