The problem with this situation is that there is no definitive guide for potential clients, detailing the differences between the commodity designers/agencies and the professional designers/agencies. To make matters worse, many who claim to be design professionals lack any understanding of the term and, therefore, erroneously claim it. As a result, those paying for a designer’s expertise often don’t know whether they’re working with a professional or a nonprofessional until some matter of vital import in the midst of a project makes it abundantly clear. At that point, the entire community of designers either triumphs or fails in the eyes of some very important people: those who need our responsible expertise and have gone to the trouble to pay for it.
"You see, the uncompromising standards of design professionalism are highly constraining, expensive, and sometimes even off putting. Yet for the sake of our reputations and our clients’ fortunes they are our industry’s most essential traits. Therefore, the constraints of professionalism must be embraced and the costs paid. I submit to you that the design profession is an imperative."
And of course, the conundrum:
"The reason for this preference is not so deep or difficult to understand: professionalism is expensive for designers. Proper preparation takes years and requires institutional guidance from senior professional peers. Professional standards impose grave responsibilities on the designer and are difficult to uncompromisingly maintain. They also tend to challenge the preconceptions of just about everyone who encounters them; designers included. According to the character of those brushing up against them, requirements for the professional conduct of design projects can be refreshingly positive or intensely off-putting."