Why Design Matters in Business

Graphic Design opens up valuable opportunities for businesses. The importance of good graphic design is often underestimated, but good design can bring some significant business benefits. Businesses that undervalue the importance of design may be missing vital opportunities.

The business benefits of design

Evidence shows that using design improves business performance and can bring a range of commercial benefits if used systematically across your business. These benefits include:

  • increased sales of your products or services

  • improved market position relative to your competitors

  • greater customer loyalty and fewer customer complaints

  • a stronger identity for your business

  • the ability to create new products and services and open up new markets

  • reduced time to market for new products and services

The effective use of design gives customers a reason for buying from you and not from your competitors. It's a valuable source of differentiation - a well-designed product or service will stand out from the competition.

Design also adds value to products and services. Customers are often willing to pay more for well-designed products that can offer them benefits such as greater usability, increased functionality and improved aesthetics.

How businesses use design

Design plays a part in nearly every aspect of what most businesses do. It covers much more than just the appearance of products or your website, packaging and marketing materials

The importance of a consistent look across its products, signage, stationery and marketing activities is a key factor in branding, recognition and awareness.

Businesses use many types of design, among which:

  • product design

  • graphic design - from manuals and marketing materials, signage and sales presentations

  • packaging design

  • website and interface design

  • retail design

  • exhibition design

Look at key areas of your business such as your brand, your product and service development, advertising, marketing. sales materials and customer communications and consider what role design plays in them. There may be opportunities to use design to make your business more efficient and to add value to your products and services for your customers.

Make design part of your business strategy

Design deserves more attention than it frequently receives from business owners and managers. It's often seen as a finishing touch in product or service development - something to be used after the strategy has been formulated, key decisions have been made and budgets have been allocated.

Successful businesses include design as part of their business strategy from the outset. This is because involving design at an early stage can save you money and result in a better offering and a better experience for your customers.

The design process

The design process should be managed like any other business process. The key is to co-ordinate those involved - designers, managers and employees with an insight into the project requirements - to ensure that your use of design delivers the outcomes you require at the cost you have budgeted.

Key tips for managing the design process

  • Begin by clearly identifying the purpose and goal of the project (e.g. raising brand awareness or improving a product or service, etc.)

  • Research before and during the project - keep focused on what your customers want -know your customers' needs.

  • Set a budget and a timetable with measurable targets.

  • Prepare a design brief outlining the project's aims, budget, timetable and any legal, technical or other constraints on developing the design.

  • Monitor the process as it develops - if the project deviates from the brief, investigate and make sure it's for a good reason.

Professionalism

One basic impression a small business wants to give potential clients or customers is that they are professional and trustworthy. Before you even make contact with potential customers they have seen your website, branding materials, signage, and social media presence. If your materials aren’t consistent, and properly represent your business, your customers will not perceive you as professional.

First impressions matter You only have one chance to make a first impression. Whether it’s a website or the logo in an email signature, potential customers will judge a business in just a few seconds based on visual appeal alone. High-quality graphic design gives businesses credibility—and that’s priceless. No matter how great a product or service, with poor design, it’s unlikely anyone will stick around the company’s website or keep its email long enough to find out.

Great design tells a story

Good small business marketing should tell a story about your business and brand. Thoughtful design evokes the right image in customers’ minds. Simply relying on text is not the best way to reinforce the story you tell in today’s visual world. Your logo, your website, your printed materials and any and all of your visual communications are used to create your business story, reflect your branding and professionalism to your potential customers.

Branding makes a company memorable Professional graphic design provides branding consistency across every visual communication your business uses to interact with customers using precise colors, typeface, imagery, and mood for everything a customer comes in contact with. This way, customers have the same experience visiting a company’s website as they do reading its brochure. It helps the business become recognizable and memorable. Consistency symbolizes professionalism, and professionalism symbolizes trustworthiness. It’s win-win-win.

Differentiation as a competitive advantage

If there’s one thing all small businesses have in common, it’s that they all face competition. To set themselves apart, they generally have a handful of differentiators like pricing, quality, experience, or customer service. Creative design can help a small business stand out too. A company’s visual communication plan serves many purposes, and making the business unique should be one of them.

Creative graphic design drives sales

Beyond professionalism, you want to make sure your small business is memorable. Creative graphic design incorporates the unique value you offer to your customers, and is striking enough that you stand out against the competition.

Good design converts A slick website is nice to have. A slick website that converts is even nicer. Design isn’t just about making things look pretty; effective design should entice and persuade. A smartly designed website can direct visitors to take action. Professional graphic design has the potential to deliver measurable results for a small business.

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