Elespacio Articles - Is good design good for business?

Is good design good for business?

June 2019

Take it for granted

It’s official. The research has been done and the evidence is in: businesses that implement design see better customer satisfaction, higher productivity and more brand equity. But they also see the effect of design on the cold, hard numbers: an average 32% faster increase in revenue and 56% faster returns to shareholders.

But it turns out that merely embracing basic design practice is not enough. If they want to outperform their competitors and see the benefits, businesses need to put design at the heart of their strategy, and they need to iterate design continuously.

Are you a producer or visionary?

A recent report came to a striking conclusion: although 80% of companies have design teams involved in most initiatives, only 5% of them are tackling design in a truly integrated way.

Around 40% of businesses only scratch the surface of design’s full potential. The report calls these the ‘producers’. They focus on visual results rather than processes, delivering design comps and prototypes and producing assets.

The next 40% are ‘connectors’ and ‘architects’. They implement collaborative processes such as workshops and stakeholder interviews. They evaluate the impact of design and are able to prioritize.

On the next level are the ‘scientists’, the 15% of companies who use data to inform their perceptions of the market and come up with experiments and hypotheses to help implement design more effectively.

The top 5% are the ‘visionaries’. Design is a core business strategy for them. They not only understand the market but they also set trends, gradually changing customer expectations to their benefit.

The top-level companies also understand that a product or campaign launch isn’t the end of the design process. They know that, instead of well-demarcated design phases, continuous iteration is key.

Think big, act small

You might assume that the way to reach this level of design maturity is to hire more designers. In fact, the data suggests that higher levels of design implementation are usually handled by smaller teams, typically around 15 people, so your focus should be attracting highly skilled people and strengthening collaboration.

Whether this team is in-house or an external partner depends on how the company is structured, its size, working culture, sector and needs. Big corporations tend to have in-house teams while occasionally hiring a consultancy to get an outside perspective or to help with asset production.

Small and medium-sized companies tend to outsource most of the heavy lifting, whether strategy or production, to external partners. In this case, where budgets might be tighter, companies should be very careful about whom they partner with.

Establish strong long-term partnerships

If you are to continuously iterate custom design and take your place among the top 5%, you need a long-term partner who can deliver at all times, at all levels of design complexity, so you don’t have to go through the process of selecting different suppliers for every job.

Here at Elespacio, we are fortunate to partner with great companies of all sizes in different industries. From 10 of years brand building and asset production for Hotels.com and devising a global digital strategy for Freixenet, to crafting dynamic retargeting campaigns for Nespresso, or re-establishing Thermomix's global email marketing strategy for Vorwerk, we have consistently demonstrated that we can operate at the higher standards in all design maturity levels and impact their business positively.