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The value and power of good design

How do we quantify the value of good design?

I felt compelled to write this article having seen some instances, due to reduced budgets, where there has been what I would describe as poor design. When I say poor, I don’t just mean the way it looks but the lack of design thinking or thinking about it from the audiences’ shoes. 

Some campaigns don’t land the message in the right way because it’s viewed from the organisation’s point of view and not the audiences. Comms teams need to talk to their audience and ask: What are their issues, what do they want to see, why don’t they engage, what are the barriers to them engaging, what channels do they engage with currently? Every design project should start from this standpoint.

As the Managing Director of a design agency it’s very easy for me to say that design can create great results for organisations, but that’s not enough – how do we quantify it?

We should really be asking ‘does good design create an increase in sales, engage teams, create a reaction in your audience or raise your company’s profile?’

If you think about innovative companies like Apple or Dyson, it’s quite obvious that design is at the very core of their business. It’s not accidental or a last-minute thing, its central to the strategy in all areas of those businesses. And this design thinking approach should be used more extensively in the public sector as well; it would benefit them massively.

Graphic design is art and commercialism combined where we understand there is a problem or challenge and look at it from the viewpoint of our clients’ audiences. We are paid to solve that problem.

Design can give businesses a competitive advantage and add real value to their business. In the public sector it can create real change. Organisations that invest in high quality design from respected designers perform better and are more able to secure investment, increase their market share and create change.

In a Design Council report from 2012 called Design delivers for business the following benefits were identified:

  • Design increases turnover: For every £1 invested in design, businesses can expect over £20 in increased revenues
  • Design is linked to profit: For every £1 invested in design, businesses can expect over £4 increase in net operating profit
  • Design boosts exports: For every £1 invested in design, businesses can expect a return of over £5 in increased exports

And the businesses areas strengthened through design were:

  • Stronger and more compelling brands that stand out in the market
  • Accelerating new ideas to market
  • Creation of new products and services that have transformed existing markets or opened up new ones
  • Establishing improved or new processes for product and service development to more effectively support innovation activity

How can design help organisations in the public and private sector?

  • Design is a differentiator. Good design can be a source of competitive advantage, through brand equity, customer loyalty, price premium or customer orientation.
  • Design is a motivator. Staff can be motivated by brilliant design, and this will often be reflected in their performance. A strong brand has the power to influence a workforce.
  • Design is good business. It can lead to new business opportunities, increased sales, better margins, higher brand value, greater market share, and a better return on investment.
  • Design can create cultural change in teams and audiences and can help public sector organisations reframe their challenges.

Many of the most successful organisations think of design as an investment and not a cost. Saving on design costs might be the most expensive decision you make, and in Ralph Speth’s words (CEO of Jaguar Landrover):

“If you think good design is expensive, you should should see the cost of poor design.”

Good design isn’t good enough for us, brilliant design is what Be Smart Design focus on; give us a call on 01902 797970 to find out how we can help you with your challenge.