Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Adding value through design

This report published by the Design Council recently, picks up on a thread I was writing about earlier: that marketing and design are inextricably linked through business performance.

In fact this report goes further to say that the more investment in design (actually those that "use designers") that the company makes into its product or service, the better return it will have. Yup. What designers have always known: design helps sell products, it's not about tarting it up. In fact it amazes me the amount of times I'm asked to tart up something from a purely aesthetic point of view.

What this report doesn't address (can it ever?) is whether the design has to be necessarily good or bad! Obviously the design needs to address to the core client audience, otherwise nobody will be engaged. But I've worked for clients who are Venture Capital funded and these guys are tight! Ducks don't come anywhere near it. And they're not extremely wealthy for no reason! I'm sure being canny with their money on a small as well as large scale is one way of getting rich. Frequently, though, Venture Capitalists want as much as they can get out of you for as little money as possible. But this is not my gripe: this is the way of the modern economy, n'est ce pas. My gripe is with those VCs who see design as a non-integrated part of the business and marketing process. They plug designers into the "selling" process as and when they need them. I argue that placing a manager of design (or design marketing, marketing design, I'm not fussed) with a full emphasis on the design as well as marketing would be a much more powerful proposition and give them a better return on their investment! As proved by the Design Council report above. Design should be a continuous process managed along the way : constantly looking a the product or service and thinking about how to better serve the client or customer. This is design. Thinking is design. It's an integrated thinking, marketing, design, finance approach. (I used to think it was about drawing pretty pictures. )

Still. There'll always be the client who knocks you hard on price saying: "But a colleague of mine got his website designed for £50 and a bag of Tudor crisps". Well my friend I can say but one thing. Adios.

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