Why design matters

Posted on by Guy Cookson

Late one night a police officer came across a drunk looking for something under a streetlight.

“I’ve lost my house keys,” the drunk explained. The police officer joined him in the search.

After a while the police officer asked, “Are you sure you lost your keys here?”

“No,” replied the drunk. “I lost them in the park. But the light here is better.”

I was reminded of this old joke when meeting with a business owner recently.

He explained, that after several years, growth at the business had stalled.

It was not hard to see why. Although their underlying product was still good, their brand identity was dated, their packaging needed a refresh, and their website design was clunky.

As far as first impressions went they were making a bad one.

But rather than solve these underlying issues, the owner wanted to invest in more direct response advertising.

“I can see all the stats,” he explained. “I know where every click or call comes from. Why would I invest in something I can’t measure?”

And I do understand that perspective. It can be scary to spend money if the outcome is perceived to be uncertain.

But spending on advertising is wasteful if the design fails to captivate the target audience.

Investing in design has tangible business benefits. It can be the difference between a prospective customer deciding to spend with you or go elsewhere.

According to the Design Council, for every £1 invested in design, businesses can expect over £20 in increased revenues.

This is because good design improves brand recognition and loyalty. It helps products and services standout in the market. It communicates a clear customer value proposition.

Good design has been shown to make people happier and to increase the likelihood that they will spend more.

Good design also implies the whole business is functioning well – and not without justification. Research by the Design Council found that “Firms investing in design are more likely to invest in other intangible assets like R&D.”

As the former chairman and CEO of IBM, Thomas Watson Jr., once said: “Good design is good business.”

A version of this article was published as part of a weekly column on marketing, design, trends and strategy in the Lancaster Guardian, Blackpool Gazette and Lancashire Post.

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