Have you been wondering whether to invest in design for your business? Have you heard conflicting theories about how effective design is? Or, are you simply considering whether design is important enough to prioritize for your growing company when you have so many other things to think about?
These are all valuable questions. In a constantly evolving advertising landscape, where trends and styles change daily, here are some concrete ways that quality design gives you an actual return on your investment. Let’s get started.
Awareness of the value of good design is at an all-time high. Good design is recognized as a major differentiator in ensuring product success in a crowded global market.
—Paul Hatch, Design House and Deana McDonagh, University of Illinois
Across industries and marketplaces, design can literally make the difference between those businesses that succeed, and those that don’t.
In 2005, The Design Council studied 63 portfolios of companies that traded on the Financial Times Stock Exchange over the course of a decade. They discovered that companies that put an emphasis on design performed at a much higher level than those that didn’t. Those companies outperformed the FTSE 100 index by 200%.
And the numbers don’t stop there. More recently, the National Endowment for the Arts released a report on the influence of industrial design on the US economy. The study shows that some design-led companies—like Apple, Coca-Cola, and Nike—outperformed the S&P 500 Index by a whopping 219% between 2004 and 2014.
The results are in. Design is a powerful tool that really works. Businesses who use design well tend to beat out their competition.
Design is about 3 dimensions and the 5 senses
—Danielle Sacks, Senior Writer at Fast Company Magazine
From the moment buyers discover your product to the moment of purchase; your design is the magic carpet that guides users through the customer experience journey.
Good design includes advertisements, interfaces, data displays, websites, packaging, right through to the physical product itself. All these elements are woven together, and work hand in hand to make your information easy to engage with.
Essentially, design translates the complex into something fun, accessible, exciting, and remarkable. From motivating a buyer to pick up your product to guiding a user through your website, design leads clients along those magical stepping stones that lead to brand loyalty.
Design is the silent ambassador of your brand.
—Paul Rand, Designer
Design has the power to make your brand stick. That’s right, you don’t just want one-time clients who think you’re great. You want loyal customers who come back again and again.
By engaging your clients through powerful and consistent design, you make your business unforgettable.
According to AIGA, “When brands have communicated a given message for some time, their audiences start storing that information in their long-term memory.”
From your logo to your color choices, your branding decisions have a strong impact on your company’s memorableness.
Brands are created through intentional and carefully chosen design decisions. Brands are more than simply the outward appearance of a brand, but all the tiny details that create a truly memorable experience for your customers.
Never forget that you only have one opportunity to make a first impression - with investors, with customers, with PR, and with marketing.
—Dame Natalie Massenet, Chairman of the British Fashion Council
Studies have shown that visual appeal can be assessed within about 50 milliseconds. That means you have less than a tenth of a second to make your brand memorable.
And that first impression can be the deal breaker. Studies have proven that people make snap judgements based on all kinds of visual indicators—from clothing styles to eye contact to color choices.
What first impressions do your designs create? Do people see you as reliable? Dramatic? Life-changing? Professional? Roguish? Sophisticated? Even small changes to your branding and design can have a powerful effect on your buyers’ actions.
Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.
—Leonardo Da Vinci
“Humans are visual creatures. Most of us process information based on what we see.” starts an article by TJ McCue in Forbes. And it’s true. In fact, did you know that, according to the Social Science Research Network, 65% of people are visual learners?
That means that more than half of the people who stumble upon your brand are getting the majority of their understanding of you through your visual materials. That means you have huge potential at your fingertips.
Your visual messaging is being eagerly and quickly digested by buyers every single day. Now’s your chance to make sure that messaging is accurate, memorable, and effective.
In today’s fast-paced online marketplace, most people will come across your business in digital form—and possibly on a mobile device. That means your web presence has to clearly and quickly communicate who you are, and motivate potential buyers to engage with your brand.
And one of the most powerful tools you have? Design.
Design has a huge impact on whether customers trust you, stay interested, and ultimately decide to opt-in to your products and services.
According to Tyton Media, 38% of people will stop engaging with a website if the content/layout is unattractive, 94% of people cited web design as the reason they mistrusted or rejected a website.
Amazing, right? You could put tons of real customer testimonials, industry awards, and engaging content up on your website—but if your design doesn’t showcase that information professionally and effectively, it may go completely unnoticed.
A study by Research Gate states, “poor interface design was particularly associated with rapid rejection and mistrust of a website,” it continues, “in cases where the participants did not like some aspect of the design the site was often not explored further than the homepage, and was not considered suitable for revisiting at a later date…”
Your website design is one of the best ways you can win new customers, drive sales, and convert loyal buyers.
Did you know that—according to Cincinnati-based research agency AcuPoll—every year, 95% of new products fail?
An article by Joshua Conran points out, “the reason is simple: Most customers don’t have the time or energy to weigh the advantages and disadvantages of the products in their shopping carts, so they use a shortcut to make their decision. That shortcut is your product’s packaging.”
The way you present your product has a dramatic effect on your success.
Poor packaging has striking effects. Australia recently instituted a plain packaging law for cigarettes, with the goal of discouraging young people from smoking. Marlboro cannot use its logo, or its typeface. Their packages are covered in health warnings, with graphic images to deter smoking. The result? The biggest smoking decline Australia has seen in 20 years.
The more you hone your packaging design, the better your results.
Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.
—Steve Jobs, Co-Founder of Apple
Design isn’t just your visual appeal, it’s how your business functions, how your packaging engages, how your product impacts the user, and how effective your customer journey is. Design is all the micro-moments that make up your clients’ experience.
Design ties together your colors, your website, your packaging, and your customer’s journey from the first point of contact to the moment they become a loyal customer.
A designer considers who you are, understands your business mission, knows your target audience, and has the skills to effectively communicate your message through striking, unforgettable visuals. A good designer can do this at every level of your operation—making the complex customer journey simple.
It’s always good to check in, and ask yourself, “how are we making things work better and more effectively for our users?”
People don’t buy what you do. People buy why you do it.
Design has the power to motivate buyers. It is integral in getting measurable results from the people who come in contact with your business.
To effectively motivate—you have to know what your customers want.
Whether you are launching a product or running a company, you will usually have multiple campaigns, products, and services running all at once. And you’ll need to motivate buyers along many different points in their customer journey; from getting a shopper to pick up your product off the shelf, to getting buyers to opt-in and purchase your product on your website.
That’s where design comes in, facilitating all those multiple touch points so that you can continue to engage the right people at the right time.
With smart design, you can effectively empower and motivate your clients.
“I strive for two things in design: simplicity and clarity. Great design is born of those two things.” – Lindon Leader.
As Danny Schreiber, Marketing Director at Zapier, says, “Good design is obvious. Great design is transparent.
It’s true. Great design can bring your message to the forefront, engage your customers, and convert new users into loyal clients—without your users even realizing it.
Jared M. Spool points out that when Netflix asked their users what they liked best about their business, customers noted the wide selection of movies, the recommendations tool, the awesome service, etc. But one thing they didn’t mention was that the site was extremely functional, cleverly designed, and expertly maintained.
“While all these things are what the designers at Netflix work hard on every day, they go unmentioned by their customers,” says Spool, “It’s not because these aspects aren’t important. It’s because the designers have done their job really well: they’ve made them invisible.”
Great design draws in your users, and helps them have an amazing experience. If your design is really stellar, your customers won’t even notice it, but rather, will remember the outstanding experience they had engaging with your company.
Human beings have an attractiveness bias; we perceive beautiful things as being better, regardless of whether they actually are better. All else being equal, we prefer beautiful things and we believe beautiful things function better. As in nature, function can follow form.
One of the biggest challenges in business is differentiating yourself from your competitors. Design is a dynamite tool for this; helping you capture attention, connect with your target audience, and rocket ahead in your marketplace.
Norio Ohga, former Chairman and CEO of Sony says, “At Sony, we assume all products of our competitors will have basically the same technology, price, performance, and features. Design is the only thing that differentiates one product from another in the marketplace.”
Your design is often the deciding factor that will motivate clients to make a buying decision.
An article in AIGA puts it this way, “At the end of the day, [a superior product] means nothing if you fail to communicate it to the right audience. Your product shouldn’t only be better, it should appear to be better, and those are two entirely different things.”
What design choices have you made to make your product stand out? And, are they working?
When you look at a strong brand, you see a promise.
With consistent branding, you can increase brand recognition, build trust, and gather a loyal following around your business.
Design is key in building consistent branding. North Star Marketing points out, “A good brand is built over time and requires thought, strategy, and consistency.”
It’s bigger than simply using the same logo on all your products. It means sticking to your values, communicating those values in a way that continues to resonate with your target buyers, and creating a strong identity that can survive trends and shifts in the market.
An article in Forbes points out, “Branding is the key to differentiating yourself from the competition, but if you don’t build your brand promise around reality or consistently live up to it, your branding efforts are pointless.”
Build a consistent brand, and you garner lasting trust from your audience. Trust means repeat customers, and repeat customers means increased revenue.
Socrates said, ‘Know thyself.’ I say, ‘Know thy users.’ And guess what? They don’t think like you do.
—Joshua Brewer, Designer
As you probably know, communicating effectively with your target audience is at the heart of growing a successful business. And to do that—design is key. Smart design showcases your products and services in a way that resonates with—and motivates—your target buyers.
As Mike Arauz puts it, “if your brand is acceptable to everyone, it won’t be interesting to anyone.”
Your target buyers want and need something specific. Your business fills that gap. But, that’s not enough. You need your design to speak for you so buyers know—without a doubt—that your brand is the answer to their search.
“Choose the right purpose, people will be attracted, motivated, and unified.” —Robert Wong, Vice President at Google Creative Lab
Your design is the magic element that will communicate who you are, what you do, and why you do it. Through powerful design, you can connect with customers who share your values.
Or as Adrian Forty says, “No design works unless it embodies ideas that are held common by the people for whom the object is intended.”
It’s true. Your values are at the heart of your brand—and your design communicates those values to your target audience. When those values resonate with your buyers, you’re more likely to build a lasting customer relationship.
An article by the Forbes Communication Council points out, “Branding your store or business is key to communicating to your customer what your products and services stand for . . . how you communicate your brand to the masses can impact your effectiveness and determine if a customer recognizes your corporate message or chooses to ignore it.”
And frequently, when you communicate your values, it gets you real results. “Companies that follow through on a ‘brand purpose’ to add meaning to products and services enable consumers to trust and connect on an emotional level.” says an article in Marketing Week.
As Mark Thomson puts it, “Brands are the stories that unite us all in a common purpose within an enterprise, and connect us with the people we serve on the outside. These brand stories give meaning to who we are and what we do.”
What does your brand stand for? What is it about, and why is it important? Are you communicating your values through your design?
A brand is a living entity—and it is enriched or undermined cumulatively over time, the product of a thousand small gestures.
You have huge opportunity - right at your fingertips. Using the power of design, you can get your business noticed, your ideas heard, and your brand to go down in history. By simply embracing the potential of design, you can increase your bottom line, build lasting trust, and a loyal client base that eagerly refers your brand to friends and colleagues.
Now is your moment. Your future awaits. Start developing your brand design so you can own your market, shine apart from the competition, and win the lasting success you deserve.
Are you ready to find out how great design can grow your business? Get in touch with the Harvest Media team at 847-352-4345 or send us a message.
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Mike is the founder and president of Harvest Media. He has a passion for helping brands communicate their message with clarity and impact.