It is a mistake to confuse design with merely good looks and decoration. Good design is borne from the core of a business, what it is and what it aspires to be. Good design is borne from the core of a business’s expression of mission and all of its various communications needs — from how it talks about its products and services, to how it interacts with its customers, to the experiences it provides when people visit its websites, conferences, stores or offices.
Unfortunately, good design is sorely lacking in most business experiences. But fortunately, and on a major plus note — this presents amazing opportunities for businesses that seek a real ROI and are willing to heed the lessons learned and demonstrated by some of our most universally respected companies. Good design, especially when incorporated into the belief systems of those at the highest levels of management, makes a difference: better products, better services, better efficiencies and better profits, not to mention a better functioning corporate culture that breeds far happier employees.
Good design is an investment in all that is good, yet too often it is considered just another expense. But when monies are layed out that return so many positive business outcomes, it should be evident that it is money well spent with endless returns.
Here are a few ways good design propels business:
1. Puts you head and shoulders above the rest
The sharp dressed person will always stand out among those who aren’t as carefully put together. Same goes for the person who has their sh*t together versus those who always seem to be disorganized and scrambling in some way. The same goes for your business — take advantage of what good design has to offer.
2. Influences what others think
It is true that in today’s world, it is the public that defines your brand — but good design can play an important role in how people define your brand. What you do and how you say it makes a difference — good design will make sure you do it well. It can also level the playing field against the bigger boys and the larger companies that struggle with internal conflicts and disorganization that leads to a fractured, weaker brand.
3. Boils down your messaging into words that stick
Communications that aren’t read or retained, are as good as doing nothing at all; perhaps worse, if the muddled messages give a bad impression. Good design grabs the skimmers, getting your messages seen and heard.
4. Orchestrates an enjoyable customer experience
Good design respects your markets, audiences and customers — ensuring that your company’s interactions with people are enjoyable ones. Good design turns otherwise clunky experiences into user-friendly ones, taking the friction out of everything from navigating your website to deciphering your sales materials. Respect others and they will respect you.
5. Makes communications easily comprehensible
Websites, marketing campaigns, social engagement, brochures, exhibits and any other type of communications that are nothing more than a chaotic mess of words, ideas and images only leave people dazed and confused. Too many businesses, in an effort to say it all, end up saying not much of anything. Good design will ensure what you have to say is heard loud and clear, and a proper hierarchy established for easy accessibility to everything else.
6. Establishes relevance, credibility and professionalism
Everything is a reflection of you and your business. Dress your communications for success the same way you would dress yourself for success at an important business event. It makes you more valuable. You only have one chance to make a first impression, but you have every chance to make sure it’s a good one — through the virtue of good design.
7. Creates the bond of trust that every business craves
A stand for quality and thoroughness resonates with people, either consciously or subconsciously. Whether it be products that work, communications that explain things clearly, or well-designed experiences that trigger positive feelings — good design engenders the trust that builds loyal customers and passionate brand advocates.
8. Captures the imagination of your markets
Once a track record of well conceived, successful communications, products, and experiences is established, a company’s superior offerings and processes together with an inspired design communications strategy will take its successes to places previously considered inconceivable. Few are able to achieve such lofty results, but a comprehensive plan with good design built into its DNA from the beginning is the recipe for such accomplishments.
9. Maximizes efficiencies
Good design streamlines processes that creates efficiencies and adds immeasurable value that saves time and money. From communications that people understand to efficient project development and manufacturing processes, good design eliminates confusion, redundancy and waste, including the all-too-common costly redos through the virtues of good organization and solid planning.
10. Brings cohesion and clarity to business complexities
Good design will find an elegant solution that simplifies, shapes and focuses how complex systems and offerings can be most effectively communicated. Many companies have elaborate systems and business models behind whatever it is that is they do. There are often sub-brands and incongruent business offshoots that fall under the main company umbrella. These things can often cloud the way a company is perceived by the outside world — and oftentimes, those charged with communicating these complex business offerings and branding challenges to the public are too close to these inner workings to do it well. Good design will garner the objectivity necessary for explaining things in a way that people understand.
11. Inspires your employees
Everybody likes to look and feel good. Good design facilitates that, boosting employee morale. Just as in our personal lives, nothing feels better than knowing things are neat and tidy and as they should be. Good design will energize your company from within.
12. Gives tangible form to ideas
Somehow, ideas that are discussed in a meeting or written in a memo don’t get the attention they deserve until good design springs them to life so people can see, touch and feel them. Likewise, a new business concept is somehow not “real” until a logo is attached to it, giving it the tangible identity that people can relate to and rally behind, transforming wishful thinking into fruitful realities.
So you see, good design has innumerable positive benefits for business, beyond just “making something look pretty.” I hope you nodded your head as you read this list — that should be proof enough that good design makes a difference. Yet too many businesses and professionals skimp when it comes to relegating the proper resources to design. If you find yourself to be one of them, I encourage you to rethink your position — for I truly believe that untapped successes can be realized by changing your thinking from seeing design as an expense to that of a smart investment. How will you make your business sing with design?
What do you think? Did I miss anything? Please let me know in the comments below. And if you have a different position on any of this, I would like to hear that too.
Featured image courtesy of Neal licensed via Creative Commons.