Investing in Design Makes Good Cents!

Most businesses understand that good design is much more than just aesthetics and that a real advantage can be gained if they invest in smart strategic thinking when it comes to their brand and communications. It’s well known that in today’s competitive marketplace a great product or service isn’t necessarily going to guarantee success if you are unable to communicate your product or service effectively. But few understand the real ROI on investing in design as it’s not always so black and white to measure results. How exactly will investing in design improve performance and productivity? As a business in the current economic climate can you really justify investing that much time, energy and money into design?

There are many theories on how and why strategic design improves business productivity and performance but there are also clear facts and figures from credible research that support this. An article written by the Business Design Council states;

“In the U.S. the Design Value Index shows a 228% increase in value for listed companies rated as design led. In Denmark companies investing in design have gained a growth 22% greater than companies that have not invested in design and the difference will rise up to 40% with continuous investing.”

So what are the key indicators that are being used in this research? These are a mix of hard returns such as; increased sales, a larger cut of the market share and greater customer return, with softer returns such as; a raised profile in the marketplace, higher employee attraction and retention, and better brand awareness.

In terms of the hard returns, investing in design achieves a lot more than just increase sales and market share. Good design will not only attract and engage new clients and customers but will also ensure that a personalised connection will be made that will inspire ongoing trust and loyalty. This means a long-term business relationship that will need ongoing nurturing and development. Understanding the best design platforms to use to engage and nurture client relationships as part of a design strategy is vital in this process of making connections, engaging with and maintaining an audience. Good design is the cornerstone of a memorable brand experience, which will ultimately contribute to business success. It’s no accident that some of the more successful companies have designers in their upper level of management (Nike was founded by a designer and Apple has a senior VP of design).

Another factor that is a soft return is the positive effect investing in design has on a company’s ability to attract and maintain the best employees. Salary is not always the top motivator for choosing a company to work for. Credibility and culture also play a big part in attracting top staff, and design influences both. In the same way communicating your values and brand story makes a connection and attracts potential clients, employees want to work for a company whose values they share and that stands head and shoulders above other competitors. If a company has a strong brand story, employees will be able to make an emotional connection to this and to what the company stands for. Company goals will become their own. In essence not only will this boost productivity, but employees will become ambassadors of the company brand.

Investing in design will not only give your business or company the edge over competitors it will ensure your survival in a competitive and currently volatile economy. In times of economic uncertainty, it’s the businesses that have strong credible brands that have the best chance for survival, this is relevant to any business whether a start-up or a multinational. It’s so important to continually invest in design and branding so that if and when economic hardship hits it doesn’t mean the end of business. When a company is struggling to pay staff, investing in design to ensure they have the edge to stay afloat is not always possible. Or if company directors are in the position of wanting to or having to sell the business then its value will be significantly increased if there has been an investment in design. Good design will allow a business to command a much higher price for its product and service and will also boost the price of the company shares.

In a nutshell design will influence your customers, staff, competition and practically everyone who comes in contact with your brand for better or for worse. The question is whether that impact will have a positive or negative effect on your business. Investing in design will empower your company or business with a multitude of benefits, it’s important to start planning how to factor this investment into your business plan and how to continually assess and re assess the branding of your business and how it is impacting the success of your company. Any way you look at it is investing in design for your business makes good sense!

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