Across industries and marketplaces, many businesses recognize that design makes the difference between who succeeds and who doesn’t. However, others are skeptical about whether this is proven. Is design important enough to prioritize within your organization when there are so many business-related things to consider?
“Good design is good business.”
— Thomas Watson Jr.
Various studies conducted by organizations such as the Design Innovation Group, the Design Council (UK), the Danish Design 2020 Committee, and McKinsey, among others, prove that companies placing an emphasis on design outperformed those that didn’t. And design-led companies — like Apple, Coca-Cola, and Nike — outperformed others by 219% between 2004 and 2014. Yes, the best design performers increased revenues and shareholder returns at twice the rate of their industry counterparts. Unfortunately, that information isn’t enough to satisfy many decision-makers. With no clear way to link design to business health, leaders are often reluctant to divert resources to design functions. Who wouldn’t be? However, as the research indicates, there must be organization-level decisions and investments in design to realize such successes.
It’s difficult to imagine exactly how design can be used to the company’s advantage if you are not a designer who understands how deep a design process can go.
What design actions can leaders make to unlock business value?
“Design is not just what it looks and feels like, but how it works.”
— Steve Jobs
Think about design as a holistic translator. Why holistic? It converts complex concepts into fun, exciting, remarkable, accessible, motivating, and unforgettable messages/symbols or whatever is needed for your brand, organization, product or service to stand out among the competition. But it doesn’t end there, because the aim is loyal customers, and loyalty goes beyond visuals. What is your customer’s impression of your brand/organization/products/services? What kind of message does the design convey? Is your organization seen as reliable?
The potential for design-driven growth is now higher than ever. Customers can feed opinions back to companies (and each other) in real-time. Design is measured by customers themselves, whether organizations want to listen or not. Repositories of user data and the advance of artificial intelligence (AI) cement the creation of powerful new sources for insights. All of these should place the user at the heart of business decisions; however, organizations have been slow to catch up.
What exactly can design do within my organization?
“Design creates culture. Culture shapes values. Values determine the future.”
—Robert L. Peters
Design is key in making your brand consistent. Not only by using the same logo on all your products, but by communicating your values in a way that resonates with your customers and employees, creating a strong identity that survives trends and shifts in the market. Design combines analytical leadership with cross-functional talent in a continuous iteration of the user experience to increase business value. Note: the user is not only the customer; even employees should be considered within this formula.
Here are some of the questions a savvy leader will consider: What design choices have been made to make your product/service stand out? Are they working? What is your product/service quality? How is your customer satisfaction? How has usability been measured? How profitable is your organization? What about employee productivity? How is the business profitability? How is revenue affected by conversions? How can costs savings improve? What is your organization’s market position? Why is it so? How can that position be better? What could affect that position? How has innovation been applied within the organization? Is it enough?
Yes, design brings more questions than answers and not one, but several, solutions. Design formulas have many different answers. A solution comes with analysis, experience, trial and error, learning, and knowledge all combined. Keep your mind open to possibilities and try the most promising ones. Be ready to fail and come back with something better. Understand the failure, learn and try something else. Learn from other organizations. What are they doing right? What are they doing better than you? What are you doing better than anyone?
To learn more, take advantage of offerings from Cookhouse Labs. Next Tuesday, we will be hosting a free virtual 1-Day Design Tools Training facilitated by the author of this blog, and we invite you to register by clicking here. As part of our gift to the community during these challenging times, we have made our virtual Live Events calendar free for members of the re/insurance community, so you can innovate from the comfort and safety of your home office.