Companies Embracing Design have a Competitive Edge


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Good design has become pervasive in our world, infusing everything from the websites we visit to the content we consume. This is for good reason: Our brains are pre-wired to consume, process and synthesize visual information more quickly than any other stimuli.

Importance of design

That’s why good design improves our experience, whether it’s a product or powerful piece of visual content, because it provides simplicity and clarity in a world of distraction.

But good design is more than just a superficial aesthetic consideration or passing trend. New research by the Design Management Institute and Motiv shows that adopting design-centric thinking might actually impact your business’ bottom line in a major way. According to the study, design-driven companies over the last 10 years have outperformed the S&P 500 by 228%.

Design centric index

That impressive stat came from analyzing 15 major companies that have significantly invested in design, comparing their financial performance to the S&P index to determine whether or not design may influence financial performance. Companies were selected based on six specific design-focused criteria:

  • The company has been publicly traded in the U.S. for the past 10+ years.
  • The company employs the strategic use of design.
  • The company has had growth in design-related technologies, talent acquisitions and facilities.
  • Design is endemic to the structure of the organization.
  • Design leadership is present at the senior and divisional levels.
  • Senior-level staff demonstrate a conscious decision and commitment to smart design.

The results show a significant advantage for companies that embrace design, regardless of industry. Companies included Apple, Coca-Cola, Ford, Herman-Miller, IBM, Intuit, Newell-Rubbermaid, Procter & Gamble, Starbucks, Starwood, Steelcase, Target, Walt Disney, Whirlpool and Nike.

Nike Golf design ap

The Nike Golf 360 App interface features branded data visualization.

Coca-Cola infographic design

A Coca-Cola infographic detailing the company’s work with female entrepreneurs.

This ROI is something the design community has been eager to investigate for years now. And it is indicative of the true power of design, if companies can apply this thinking strategically.

Interestingly, however, design-focused thinking is not yet widely adopted. According to study leaders, only 15 of 75 publicly traded companies met their designated criteria. This means there is a tremendous opportunity for forward-thinking companies to embrace design to gain a competitive edge.

Good Design Is the Future

Good design promotes and reinforces your brand—regardless of your business. Certainly, brands like Nike create design-focused products. But brands like Target and Starbucks are equally recognizable, all because of a commitment to design.

Starbucks Site

The well-designed Starbucks website reflects the brand’s ever-changing menu.

Whether you’re a Fortune 500 or startup, applying good design and design-focused strategic thinking at every level of business can have a significant impact. This is especially important when it comes to the communication your company is creating.

As visual communication becomes more omnipresent, both for internal and external communication, good design is fundamental. Communicating visually helps deliver your message in a more appealing, engaging and effective way—cutting through the noise and forming a direct connection with your audience. And as your audience becomes more accustomed to good design, it is more important to infuse it into every aspect of brand interaction. A well-designed, cohesive visual presence makes your brand instantly recognizable, which helps ensure visibility and facilitate these instant connections.

The basic truth is that you have to deliver consumers the content they crave, in the right presentation. Focusing on design will ensure you serve this need and stay ahead of the curve.

Have the desire to design, but not the necessary resources? We can help you out. Design is kind of our thing.

This post originally appeared on Column Five

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