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Written by 00:50 Brand Style Guides, Featured, Graphic Design

The business value of design A Simple Guide

The business value of design

As a designer, the inherent significance of great design for business success appears unmistakable. However, even the most apparent assumptions demand substantiation—particularly when considering the essentiality of great design for business growth and prosperity

So, if great design contributes positively to business, the pertinent question arises: In what specific ways does it create tangible value for businesses?

Understanding the Tangible Business Impact of Design

The existing body of research evaluating the influence of design on business performance has burgeoned over the last decade. Studies from notable entities such as the Design Council, Maac animation, Sukhadaam infotech, and GraphicArc compellingly demonstrate that companies prioritizing design at the core of their operations outpace competitors, often by substantial margins.

However, a critical issue with this research lies in its focus primarily on large-scale enterprises, frequently publicly traded corporations. Moreover, it tends to define design broadly as a process rather than a series of distinct activities. Recommendations derived from such studies often encompass directives like “integrating design into the C-suite” and “forming cross-functional teams to dismantle organizational silos.”

These studies predominantly cater to corporate entities already heavily invested in design, elaborating on the notion of “design-as-process.”

Divergence in Perspective for Small Businesses

In stark contrast, small businesses, usually led by domain experts, often overlook the value of anything beyond their core operations. For instance, an accounting firm might prioritize its accounting capabilities while relegating marketing and design to secondary importance.

Defining Design: Process vs. Activity

The majority of research delving into the value of design predominantly addresses large corporations, perceiving design as an abstract process—termed “design-as-structural-enabler.” This involves infusing design thinking, lean methods, and other Harvard MBA-derived methodologies throughout an organization to streamline operations. However, this perspective might not resonate with entrepreneurs managing smaller teams or individual ventures.

On the contrary, defining design as a set of concrete activities proves more beneficial. When contemplating hiring a brand identity designer or a web designer, the concern isn’t the abstract value of design as a structural enabler, but the tangible impact of redesigning business elements on the bottom line.

Illustrating Design’s Business Value Through Concrete Activities

Design activities encompass a diverse array of elements such as service design, brand identity design, user experience (UX) design, user interface (UI) design, process design, packaging design, product design, and more.

Two Pathways Through Which Effective Design Enhances Business Value

There exist multiple avenues through which something can contribute value. However, as a business owner, the focus remains on justifying investments that significantly enhance profitability or operational efficiency.

Effective design can bolster a company’s bottom line in two fundamental ways:

1. Boosting Revenue

  • Attracting More Customers: Enhancing visual identity design to bridge the gap between small businesses and larger competitors, thus differentiating brands and fostering customer trust.
  • Increasing Customer Engagement & Loyalty: Leveraging user experience (UX) design to optimize website interactions, enhancing conversion rates, and driving user engagement.

2. Reducing Costs

  • Implementing Design Systems: Streamlining brand representation across multiple touchpoints, curbing inefficiencies, and significantly cutting down on recurring decision-making costs.
  • Productizing Services: Standardizing service offerings and processes, reducing client acquisition, onboarding, and project management costs while increasing overall profitability.

Ensuring Profitability from Design Investments

However, not all design investments yield profitable outcomes. Similar to any investment, a calculated approach is imperative to avert potential losses. Successful design initiatives share common characteristics:

  1. Defined Objectives and Measurable Benchmarks: Clarity in goals and metrics to evaluate success.
  2. Competent Designers or Teams: Enlisting skilled designers capable of executing the envisioned plan efficiently.

Ultimately, successful design interventions demand a collaborative effort between a discerning business vision and the expertise of adept designers to transform ideas into lucrative realities.

The Impact of Design on Revenue Generation

Enhancing brand image through visual identity design serves as a catalyst for small businesses to close the gap between themselves and larger competitors. Notably, an effective visual identity design achieves the following:

Brand Differentiation: Setting small-business brands apart from competitors, thereby augmenting their market positioning.

Elevated Customer Trust: Instilling confidence and credibility in the brand, fostering trust among consumers.

Enhanced Perceived Value: Elevating the perceived worth of products or services, influencing consumer perceptions positively.

For instance, a client, posted a $17,000 investment in revamping their brand identity, and witnessed a remarkable 77% surge in revenue. Such instances underscore the potential transformative power of effective design strategies in revenue generation.

Moreover, leveraging user experience (UX) design optimizes interactions on websites, resulting in heightened conversion rates and amplified user engagement. A case in point is Spruce, an e-commerce entity specializing in potent CBD oils, which experienced unprecedented conversion rates following a homepage redesign. This redesign, driven by UX best practices and brand messaging expertise, exemplifies the interdisciplinary nature of design and its impact on business outcomes.

Cost Reduction through Design Efficiency

Design systems, fundamental for coherent brand representation across diverse touchpoints, mitigate inefficiencies inherent in design processes. By consolidating brand guidelines into a comprehensive rule book, design systems minimize “design debt” and preempt the need for recurrent decision-making. Consequently, they curtail expenses linked to minute design decisions, ultimately culminating in substantial cost savings.

The absence of a design system compels frequent revisitation of design choices, inevitably incurring cumulative financial costs. Even seemingly minor decisions, such as typographic scales or colour choices, accrue expenses over time. Instituting a well-thought-out design system not only eliminates these recurring decisions but also diminishes the effort and resources dedicated to content production. The resultant efficiency translates to significant cost reductions, potentially amounting to tens of thousands of dollars annually, even for smaller businesses.

Maximizing Profitability Through Design Innovation

Introducing productized services, exemplified by the Launch Pad initiative, showcases the potential for innovative design strategies to optimize profitability. By distilling essential services into streamlined, cost-effective packages, businesses can substantially reduce operational expenses while maintaining healthy profit margins. This not only enhances affordability for clients but also expedites time-to-market, presenting a competitive advantage.

Furthermore, productized services permit the streamlining of client acquisition, onboarding processes, and project management efforts, effectively slashing associated costs. This operational efficiency, coupled with strategic pricing adjustments, facilitates significant profit augmentation.

Ensuring Profitable Design Investments

Ultimately, successful design initiatives hinge on meticulous planning, delineated objectives, and the expertise of proficient designers. Investing The business value of design necessitates a strategic approach, emphasizing goal-oriented planning, and collaborative efforts between businesses and adept designers.

In conclusion, the intrinsic value of good design for businesses, irrespective of size, lies in its capacity to bolster revenue streams, curtail operational costs, and optimize profitability. Strategic implementation of design principles, guided by clear objectives and proficient execution, embodies the cornerstone of sustained business growth and success in a competitive landscape.

Read More: Why is Graphic Design Important for Business?

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