Start Up Britain letting down British Designers?
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Start Up Britain letting down British Designers?

Start Up Britain letting down British Designers?

So I start my Monday a little sleepy but in good spirits, checked my twitter stream and noticed Start Up Britain had launched. I thought oh this looks good, nice to have some support for small businesses and start ups in Britain.
So I take a look around the site and in particular the ‘Startup’ section and notice that in their design section, they are promoting that startups use a company called 99designs among other crowd sourced overseas competition based design sites. Err what?
To say I felt angry and let down is an understatement. 99Designs is US based company that uses designers from all over the world in a largely unpaid competition format. It’s disgraceful and extremely disappointing to see StartUp ‘BRITAIN’ supporting a US based design site. Rather than supporting British designers! Isn’t design what Britain do well, in fact extremely well especially for a country of our size?
It’s all very disappointing and short sighted. There’s another blog post needed to explain the problems I have with crowd sourced sites but basically Start Up Britain is suggesting that if you are looking to start a business in Britain, you should use US or mainly over seas designers to do the work.
How is this helpful to British designers and the British design industry as a whole?


  1. Quite agree, the whole transaction of working with a designer is that they should get to know everything that you’re about, so the design will reflect that – hence why I chose you to design all my visual elements.
    The government promoting this logo’s ‘r’ us mentality is just stupid and wrong.

  2. Thanks for the comments guys, glad I’m not alone on this one.
    @Olly – I see you’re point but I think its giving out very mixed messages and it doesn’t help with David Cameron launching it, sticking his face on it and backing it, it just looks and seems Government backed doesn’t it?
    It now become clear that it’s created by private companies but then the Prime Minister shouldn’t have backed it without seeing the contents which are mainly affiliate links to large corporate companies that really don’t need a hand up and are certainly not start-ups.
    I think it should have been far more advice lead and impartial rather than a series of ‘Get an Idea’ buy this from this company etc.
    It’s a shame because with more thought and input from the actual StartUp business community as to what they need in the way of support and advice would have helped it infinitely.

  3. @Steven Hughes – No it’s not my logo, its the identity for the actual site and service, no doubt crowd sourced 🙂

  4. That’s pretty poor isn’t it? I don’t blame you for being angry. Massive fail!

  5. I agree to an extent however remember this wasn’t created by the Government. Its a scheme started by other private companies and startups.
    I agree with the idea but they could have implemented it better (removing the connection from the Government for a start!)

  6. Dave Bradburn

    It may have been created by private sector businesses but it’s certainly government endorsed. It’s a real shame – an opportunity wasted.
    I’d have thought it would function best as a collection of resources and articles to advise start up businesses on what they should be considering in each aspect of setting up. Fair enough, the businesses backing it would want their links and offers, but in its current form the government seems to be just giving the official stamp to a series of adverts.

  7. @Andrew –
    You’re right, why am I surprised?
    Interesting point, lets get into colour theory.. another designer pointed out that the ‘StartUp Britain’ logo (above) was round and red – Caution/Stop etc I should have seen it coming.
    Also interesting use of Red and Blue on the site, I thought it would be more Blue and Yellow! 🙂

  8. @Lu – Look forward to hearing your rant, ahem, I mean views. 🙂

  9. This doesn’t shock me Gareth. If even GAP can’t see what’s wrong with crowdsourcing, then it’s no surprise the infants running startup Britain can’t either.
    Like Olly stated – Its a scheme started by other private companies and startups. These companies are probably trying to big-up labour with the large red dot for a logo.
    …Oh no, politics on a design blog! Shame on me 😉

  10. I read about this yesterday on Creative Review and couldn’t actually believe what I was reading! I am in the process of venting my frustrations with a blog post too! Unbloody believable.

  11. UPDATE: I’ve looked at the site this morning and although they are still promoting crowdsourced US based design sites they have changed the main design link to point to which is excellent progress. Also it’s encouraging to see those responsible acting so swiftly to correct their mistake.
    Please don’t get me wrong, overall I think that the idea is great and I’m obviously I’m all for helping small business (I own one). But maybe they could have been more impartial regarding the companies they recommend, which mainly seem to be large corporates giving very small discounts (10% etc).
    I understand that this is because of the areas of interest the founders hold, so we are back to whether David Cameron should have launched it, stuck his face all over it and given the ‘government backed’ feel to the whole thing.
    Lets hope they can turn this around as it is certainly a step in the right direction to helping small business and to be fair to them it is only day three.

  12. Just had Mark King from The Guardian on the phone about #startupbritain & asking my views, seems this has caught national media attention

  13. Hi Chris, thanks for stopping by.
    Yeah things are looking more positive in that they have made quick changes which is good, but certainly would have been nice if the people it’s aimed at had been involved, as in ‘The Big Society’ really

  14. Hi Gareth, it appears your initial objections have snagged the interest of many, inc national press. Certainly shows that ‘startup’ or ‘SME’ business in Britain has a voice to be heard.
    Maybe they should have listened first before acting in haste. It’s not as if we all keep quiet about what we do!

  15. […] just one day after launch Start Up Britain has come under fire for letting down British designers by suggesting small businesses use an American crowd sourced design site, instead of a British […]

  16. As mentioned Mark King at the Guardian gave me a call last week to ask for a view on the StartUp Britain launch. Here’s his story >
    “Small businesses let down by StartUp Britain”

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