The Importance of Design in Business Strategy
Consumers care about aesthetics. Steve Gustavson, executive creative director at Adobe, reported during the MAX session “Making Sure Design Has a Seat at the Strategy Table” that 50 percent of companies surveyed claim that design plays a huge role in how they achieve success. Companies that focus purely on data-driven strategies, without considering how design influences consumers’ impressions, run the risk of turning people away.
With design holding such importance in modern business, it needs to be an integral part of your decision making process. Design culture and thinking should be heavily involved in every business strategy, and that requires making sure your design teams and professionals have a say in company decisions.
Evolving your company mindset from a sole focus on numbers to a joint focus on design and data takes some work. Communication is key. Using resources like Creative Cloud for teams can help your company get on the same page and facilitate design conversations throughout the business. The sooner you start incorporating design principles, the easier it will become to shift your focus. The following tips will help.
Understand the purpose of design.
Good design tells a story. It unifies your brand and drives innovation. Simone Cesano, senior director of design operations at Adidas, shared the story of his company at Adobe MAX. Adidas was founded in post-World War I Germany due to the rising popularity and accessibility of sports. Its founder worked hard to figure out the design for the best possible athletic shoe, and it paid off. Jesse Owens was wearing Adidas when he won his four gold medals in track and field, and professional athletes continue to perform well wearing Adidas spikes.
Adidas found success because it started with a good product, and has continued to build on that product. Rather than stagnate, it hires designers to explore new options for shoe material and design to help propel the company into the future. Designers help Adidas remember its story and traditions, which pushes the company to seek high-quality products, and they also help the company stay ahead of the game. If given the chance, your designers can do the same for your business. Recognize that designers have the power build on the past and control the future.
Your employees may not realize the role design can play in helping your company succeed. The designers may feel like they operate in a silo. And product managers or marketers may assume the designers have nothing to contribute to strategy. The first hurdle you must overcome is getting your teams to understand that the whole company is working toward a single goal.
Creative teams crave information. And the best creative solutions are formed when they have access to the right information like demographic, psychographic, or other audience insights. When teams are armed with these strategic insights, they’ll produce better work, and you’ll spend less time doing revisions for work based on incomplete or incoherent briefs. When marketing, product, and design teams collaborate to create delightful experiences for customers, brand loyalty and love will increase.
Collaboration can also help you avoid redundancy and harmful competition. And collaboration requires trust. Pitting your internal creative team against an outside agency — based on who’s better, cheaper, or faster — is the exact wrong way to build it. When treated like a commodity, trust is lost and communication suffers. Leading brands are building amazing in-house creative teams because they want design leaders who can play a strategic role in building content and products. Know when to use external agencies for fresh insights, but involve your internal team in the process.
Get everyone involved.
Many designers — and employees in general — don’t want to take orders. Cesano noticed that his team often received a lot of pushback when they made requests, so they changed the way they approached their employees. “We stopped thinking of the organization as an army where the general speaks and things are done. We started looking at the organization as a bunch of people that we had to convince.”
They started listening to their employees more, asking everyone in the organization for insights on how to do things better, and keeping all employees informed of company developments. As a result, the company began inviting everyone to regular meetings to discuss information, as well as to receive training on new tools. These breakfast meetings evolved into opportunities for employees to learn how other departments operated and for everyone to learn new skills and share ideas. It improved company culture and allowed all employees to have a say in business development.
Give your designers the best tools.
Digital technology is constantly changing and improving, and training your designers to use new resources will not only ensure you get state-of-the-art content, but will also drive creativity and employee satisfaction. Improving digitized processes also means the work gets done faster, while remaining high quality and allowing for innovation.
Provide the necessary resources and training. Any time lost learning new skills will be paid back with improved efficiency.
Put design to work for your company. Invite your design leaders to be more involved with your business strategy so you can deliver better results. Because when you give design a seat at the table, your customer’s experience will improve — and so will your bottom line.
If you’re looking for more ways to build collaborative teams, start with Creative Cloud for teams.