"Good design is good business."
–Thomas J. Watson, CEO of IBM from 1914–1956
The importance of good design is all too often overlooked and undervalued. Just look at what happens when school budgets get cut—art is often the first program to go. The same can be true in the business world. It’s easy for a business owner to see the positive impact of a skilled accountant, and an experienced office manager can make a measurable difference. It can be harder to pinpoint the effectiveness of good design—especially since the perceptions of potential customers aren’t easily measured.
Design can only be dismissed as unimportant if we ignore the influence it has on us. Exactly how it influences us may be debatable, but it’s hard to deny that design plays an important role in the way we experience the world, and there is no doubt that a well designed world is a better one to live in. Our daily interactions are made more enjoyable by the aesthetic appeal of the things around us. If good design can make the objects we use daily—like automobiles and smartphones—so very alluring, why shouldn't the same standards be applied to all of your company’s visual communications?
Design consideration should be at the core of any business development effort. Your company's aesthetic directly influences the decisions consumers make about your products or services. Research shows that customers will form a first impression in as little as two tenths of a second. In that fraction of a second, good design can make a decisive difference.
Regardless of the industry you work in, all aspects of your visual communications must appeal to potential customers as much as possible, and as quickly as possible. It is no coincidence that the brands that invest the most in creative design and adhere to strict brand guidelines are also the most successful (i.e., Apple, Ford, and Nike to name a few).
Here are some important points to keep in mind:
First impressions matter. Potential customers judge a business in just a few seconds based on visual appeal alone. High-quality graphic design gives a business credibility. No matter how great a product or service may be, if it is presented poorly, it’s unlikely that consumers will bother to find out how good it is.
Design tells a story. It’s important that people get a feel for who you are and what your business does, especially if they are not already familiar with you. Thoughtful design engages potential customers, pulling them into your story, and evoking the right image in their minds.
Branding makes a company memorable. Solid graphic design creates brand consistency across every customer-facing aspect of your business. A creative design agency can specify colors, typefaces, imagery, and visual standards for everything your customers see or touch. Customers should have the same experience when visiting your website as they do when reading your brochure. Consistency is vital for a business to become recognizable and memorable—not to mention it also conveys professionalism, and professionalism promotes trustworthiness.
Creativity can be a differentiator. One thing all businesses have in common is that they face competition. To set themselves apart, businesses should emphasize their differentials. Those differentiators might include pricing, quality, or customer service, just to name a few. Consider that creativity can also be a big differentiator that can help a company really stand out. Your company’s visual communication plan serves many purposes, and making the business unique should be one of them.
Good design converts. A website is an asset, but a website that converts is an even better asset. Design isn’t just about making things look pretty. Effective design entices and persuades. A smartly designed website and accompanying landing pages can entice more visitors to take action.
You have to spend money to make money. Many companies fail to consider how important good creative design is to the bottom line. Design should be thought of more as an investment than as an expense. Money invested in your brand is only money lost if you’ve paid someone to do mediocre work. It’s one of those situations where you almost always get what you pay for. When businesses don’t take design seriously in the beginning, they make it more likely that they will go through a design overhaul later on. Paying once for effective and stunning graphic design from a creative design agency can be much less expensive than repeatedly paying for subpar work.
With the rise of the Internet and inbound marketing, a lot has changed about the way we consume content and information. Now more than ever what you say and how you say it can can make all the difference. If everyone out there has a megaphone, how do you stand out from the crowd? Maybe it's time to start developing a relationship with a creative agency to explore what they can do for you.