The Value of Design

Despite the obvious benefits of design for great products and service, a lot of CEOs and business owners are not aware of how much good design can affect the success of their brands. Could it be that designers rate design beyond its relative importance? How does design bring business value or make monetary sense enough for a business owner to invest?

Every designer understands the impact of design, its value in our lives, and how much a bad design can wreak havoc on the perception of a brand.

Everything around us has been(or is being) designed. More than ever before, we interact with iconic designs in our everyday lives; the Google homepage, the infinity display of the iPhone X and other sleek mobile phones, packaged food products, elegant automobiles, the architecture of GTBank’s flagship buildings and the list goes on.

We love these designs and describe designers who created them as creatives, but truthfully, all humans are creative by nature; which means that it is easy for anyone to lay claim to the knowledge of creativity and hold pre-determined opinions about design.

However, design is beyond creativity or its aesthetic result. It is the process by which we intentionally create a solution while simultaneously considering certain objectives (purpose) like function, economic and socio-cultural value, aesthetics etc. In brief, design is about solving problems—fashion design, architectural design, environmental design amongst others.

When it comes to the relationship between businesses and design, it is about specific actions taken to boost revenue and customer engagement whether it is of products or experiences, design adds value to businesses when it is purpose-driven. This explains how design has been a great contribution to the commercial success of some of the biggest global brands.

In 2018,  McKinsey published a research on “The business value of design” that explored how investing in design is good for business. It revealed that companies that thoroughly invest in design, perform on average, twice as well as businesses that don’t. More than ever before, design has become an integral investment for businesses, mostly because consumer expectations are rising daily with a wide array of options to pick from. Businesses now have more competitors, making it very important to stand out as consumers can now have instant access to global marketplaces with higher expectations. You have to do more to engage, subtle nudge customers towards choosing you and sustain brand loyalty.

Hence, only the very best designs stand out from the crowd, and smart businesses are fast tapping into this reality. Today, consumers interact with brands across more platforms—physical products, digital (social media, mobile apps, websites etc), and experience; only businesses that understand how to build and leverage emotional connections through various design-centered strategies will consistently maintain market share.

Everything around us has been designed and everything around us produces an emotion in us. They can influence us to feel different emotions like joy, thirst, hunger, safety, caution, elegance, adventure etc.  Interestingly, it is these emotional feelings that drive consumer purchasing behaviours, and decision making in general. More often than not, people make the first attempt at buying based on emotions before creating a logical justification for such a decision.

When good design is complemented with product quality and valid pricing; it is easier for the consumer or user to become loyal and with loyalty comes retention, increase in revenue and a growing number of new customers. So, design for businesses is about understanding your customers and creating a great solution for them. It is about setting clear goals and objectives for the design project and ensuring that stakeholders (designers and business owners) have a shared understanding of the role design plays in achieving the set objectives.

For example, a designer is commissioned to create product package designs for a small business restaurant looking to increase brand awareness. The expected roles of the product package design in increasing brand awareness would be: shelf attraction, share product information, product identification and differentiation. With these goals set and the roles of design clearly defined, both the designer and business owner can measure the success level of the design in increasing the restaurant’s daily food order.

Also, the effects of design can either be tangible or intangible as it can influence emotions, affect perceptions and also directly lead to conversion. What is important is that you start a design process with a defined purpose, set criteria for success and measure the extent of the success.

Written by Ayomide Ajayi
(Business Development Lead, FourthCanvas)

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