Importance of Design in Business

Is your company looking to sell more products, make more money, and reach more customers? Is the Pope Catholic? 

It’s true that most (if not all) companies are looking to achieve those things. It’s also true that some are more successful than others. So, what’s the secret ingredient successful companies use to propel their businesses? Often, what sets a company apart from their competitors is design. 

In this episode of In the Know, Andrew sits down with Chris Do, CEO and founder of The Futur (helping creative pros navigate their workspace) and Blind (a creative agency), to uncover how design can help businesses gain market share, stand out from the competition and yield ROI.

Let’s break it down:

gooddiff chart

Be Good and Different

Good design has the power to differentiate one company from another. People are hardwired to notice differences. But it’s not just enough to be different. You must also be good. When applied well, design has the power to revolutionize your business.

When people think of design they often think of visual aspects like logos, color schemes, and typeface. While those elements are important, design needs to be thought of in much broader terms.

brains-hardwired-for-differencesTake, for example, Southwest Airlines. They have cornered the market of ‘flying on a budget’ largely because of their fundamental understanding of their audience and their needs, and have designed experiences and offerings around them. While their planes may be recognizable because of their signature bright yellow and red tail stripes, they design their passenger experience specifically to increase customer satisfaction.

Here’s how:

Southwest Airlines only uses one type of plane, so they only need to hire staff that specializes in servicing and maintaining that one particular model of aircraft. The employees who service their planes can get in and out quickly, expediting the entire end-user experience.

They also redesigned their boarding process, creating a more efficient journey on the passenger’s end. Add the personality and humor of their in-flight announcements and it’s no wonder why Southwest is one of the most successful low-budget airlines in the United States.

Design encompasses visual elements but can also be used to evoke feelings – after all, branding is a gut-feeling. So, when implementing design in business, you aren’t just crafting an identity, you are designing an experience that resonates with customers. And with so many brands and companies for customers to choose from in order to stand out you need to be different and good.

Design as a Competitive Advantage

As consumer trends shift, design is becoming more important as a competitive advantage. We are becoming a de-materialized culture in which we are willing to pay for experiences instead of physical things. 

The music industry is a great example of this: instead of buying physical media like CDs, tapes, or records, we pay for music subscriptions on the cloud. We can listen to music anywhere from our phones – that is a designed experience.

We, as consumers, appreciate transcendent experiences which are crafted by designers and creative people. 

It all started when someone thought of how they could change the way we listen to music and created an offering around that. Start with the consumer and their needs and create your offering around them.

A few questions to ask yourself regarding your offering:

  • How does our offering make our customers feel?
  • How can we improve our customer experience?
  • How can we make our customer experience stand out?
  • How can we empower our customers beyond the product/service we provide?

Measuring Success

When it comes to design-centric companies, success can be measured in a number of different ways. Here are a few questions and metrics to look at as you implement design in your company:

What Does Success Look Like? Ask yourself what success should look like. Have a clear vision of where you want to go before you start developing a strategy.

Establish a baseline that you can measure against to determine how far you’ve come relative to the amount of time, energy, and effort you put into your strategy.

Implement soft metrics. Measure customer satisfaction through surveys. Let your customers tell you what they expected, what they wanted, and what they got. Based on those results, you can hire someone to come in and design an experience that closes any gaps your customers may have and increase their overall satisfaction. This is a continuous process.

Implement hard metrics. Calculate your lifetime customer value (LTV), or the average amount of money a customer will spend during their lifetime as your customer. The amount of money a customer will potentially spend with you tells you how much money you should be putting into gaining that person as a customer, all of which plays into design. 

Another way to measure success is by calculating your ROI. Successful design-centric companies like Apple and Ford outperform competitors by over 200% on the stock exchange. Clearly, it pays to apply design in business.

design value index

Challenge – Business Design

Evaluate the design in your business. What percentage is visual? What percentage is experiential? 

Make a note of those numbers and check back in one year. How far have you progressed?

episode links

hosted by

Andrew Engel

special guest

Chris Do

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