The Role of Design Strategy in Corporate Growth
In the dynamic and quickly evolving business landscape, design strategy can act as a powerful catalyst for success, with 1 in 10 of the Fortune 500 declaring design to be their top priority.
Understanding that design strategy goes beyond aesthetics and that it, in fact, permeates every aspect of a business to drive growth, innovation, and customer satisfaction, can be a competitive advantage that businesses and their marketing teams desperately crave.
It’s no secret that many businesses still overlook the transformative potential of design, neglecting its crucial role in shaping their brand, products, and experiences. These businesses often encounter a myriad of problems stemming from their lack of a design strategy. They struggle to differentiate themselves, fail to connect with their target audience and face stagnant sales as a result of this oversight.
We will delve into the intricacies of design strategy and look at how it aligns with a business's overarching goals. We will uncover the remarkable ways in which design can solve problems, captivate customers, and ultimately drive growth.
Who needs design strategy?
Marketers, CEOs, HR managers, and customers. The reality is that everyone involved in your business, in any capacity, benefits from a proper design strategy. It impacts the experience associated with your brand externally and internally, and this has a knock-on effect by creating a culture of innovation.
To truly build an effective marketing strategy, businesses must recognise the paramount importance of well-crafted and perfectly developed design. Without consistency in design, efforts can quickly become diluted, requiring ten times more exertion to achieve even minimal results. In today's increasingly competitive landscape, design holds the power to make or break a business.
The highest performing companies have a good level of design maturity and understand that design is an issue to be tackled from the very top and with the same rigour and thoroughness as other key business metrics. It is evidenced time and time again that this prioritisation can lead to excellent financial performance and long-term corporate growth.
Design isn't merely about visuals; it's about narrating your brand's story and aligning it with your customers across all touchpoints. It's a essential catalyst for change, propelling a company's transformation and growth. — Ed Khristus, Managing partner at ettyq
Problems Faced By Businesses With No Design Strategy
Let's now delve into the specific challenges that businesses often encounter, where design strategy can be the key to overcoming them and driving growth.
01 Stagnant or Declining Sales
Businesses experiencing a lack of sales growth or declining revenue often find solutions in design strategy. By revitalising a product with impactful design, brands can create more compelling customer experiences and can, rekindle customer interest and reignite their growth trajectory.
02 Poor User Experience
The experience of buying or engaging with a brand has never been more important. It’s no longer good enough for a website to simply work; that’s an expectation. Modern customers crave an experience, and this is what a good design strategy can offer.
03 Brand Differentiation
In a sea of competitors vying for attention, businesses must differentiate themselves in exciting and memorable ways to succeed. By embracing design strategy and defining a unique brand identity, businesses can cultivate an irresistible appeal that sets them apart from their rivals, creating viral potential, captivating customers and bolstering overall market appeal.
The impactful design allows customers to differentiate instantly, and this can save marketing teams lots of headaches. Imagine a scenario where the brand's design position is so strategically driven that campaign visuals almost create themselves when the identity is so user-focused and well-outlined that there aren’t doubts about user experience or the clarity of the brand’s identity. It allows marketing teams to focus more on engagement and reach and helps to deliver a greater ROI.
04 Loyalty And A Lack Of Advocacy
Building strong customer relationships is essential for sustainable growth. Design strategy is about creating an experience, not just a product. Through design strategy, businesses can create experiences that foster emotional connections with customers and align core values and aspirations with those of their target audience. This develops not just customers but advocates for your business.
05 Inefficient or Outdated Processes
Design strategy goes beyond its impact on customers; it extends its transformative potential to the entire business. Outdated systems and processes can hamper efficiency and productivity, stifling growth and halting innovation. However, by embracing design strategy, businesses can revolutionise their internal operations, modernising and optimising workflows for improved efficiency.
The key to unlocking the full benefits of design strategy lies in fostering effective collaboration and quicker decision-making within the business. When every team member shares a clear understanding of the brand's identity, communication style, and desired emotional impact, they can work together seamlessly, avoiding lengthy debates and reaching consensus more efficiently.
By aligning internal processes with design strategy, businesses create intuitive interfaces and streamlined workflows that save valuable time and resources. This strategic approach enhances the overall efficiency of the business, allowing teams to focus more on innovation and growth while also fostering a cohesive and united approach to achieving shared goals.
06 Lack of Innovation
Innovation is the lifeblood of business growth and survival. Through design strategy and design thinking methodologies, businesses can stimulate creativity, generate new ideas, and identify unmet customer needs. By embracing a design-centric approach, businesses can foster a culture of innovation that propels them ahead of the competition.
What Is Design Strategy?
With a basic understanding of the impact that lack of design can have on a business, it’s important to understand what makes design strategy the best option.
Design strategy is about more than just aesthetics; it’s about creating worthwhile and comprehensive experiences across all touch points. It sits between the art of design and the purposefulness of business strategy, meaning businesses can experience the impact of both and see the growth that this makes possible.
Design strategy is an exhilarating fusion of creativity, vision, and purpose that propels businesses towards success. It is the art of intentionally and purposefully crafting design solutions to address complex challenges and drive organisational growth. Passion and enthusiasm are at the core of design strategy, as it embraces the power of design thinking and unleashes its potential to transform businesses.
In the realm of design strategy, the goal is that every interaction with a product or service sparks joy and delight. It is a world brought to life by designers who pour their passion into meticulously shaping user experiences, infusing them with wonder and enchantment. This journey goes beyond aesthetics; it delves deep into empathy and human-centeredness, where understanding people's needs, desires, and aspirations becomes the heart of every creation.
While pursuing perfection is noble, design strategy acknowledges that every touchpoint won't always be flawless. Imperfections are opportunities for growth and learning. As part of the process, it's vital to have strategies in place to manage and learn from less-than-ideal interactions. Embracing this iterative mindset, designers can continuously refine and elevate their solutions, ensuring that each touchpoint gets closer to that ideal world of joy and resonance. Through design strategy, a world of meaningful and delightful experiences awaits, bridging the gap between imagination and reality, one step at a time.
Why Is Design Important?
Why is design, and specifically design strategy, so important for the wider business strategy and the long-term growth of the business?
01 Establishing Identity
The design allows businesses to craft a visual language that embodies their values, personality, and unique selling points. It’s so much more than a logo or a colour scheme; it’s the visual identity and face of your brand.
It’s thought that 75% of all judgements on website credibility are made on visuals alone. Design is a language that all users can understand, so it’s important that your messaging isn’t limited to just words. You, as a business, need to speak the language of your user.
Careful design and strategic thinking are, of course, vital for developing a solid identity, but so is consistency.
Design should be uniform across various touchpoints, from logos to digital products and marketing collateral. It fosters brand recognition, trust, and loyalty.
By investing in design, businesses can establish a strong and distinct brand identity that resonates with their target audience, making a lasting impression that extends far beyond aesthetics.
02 Enhancing User Experience
User experience (UX) is critical for every business, and design is the key to unlocking exceptional user experiences that not only convert but transform the perception of the business.
Design strategy works beyond aesthetic appeal by first understanding users' needs, behaviours, and expectations, leading to the development of intuitive and user-friendly interfaces. This means that every creation plays an important role in the overall experience.
Investment in UX design is a necessity in modern business. It makes it possible to streamline customer journeys, minimise friction points, and deliver seamless interactions that work harmoniously with wider marketing efforts.
A well-crafted UX not only enhances customer satisfaction and loyalty but also drives tangible returns on investment (ROI) by increasing conversions, reducing bounce rates, and boosting customer retention.
03 Competitive Differentiation
Every business needs to stand out. That’s what sets apart those that succeed from those that fall by the wayside.
Design strategy provides a powerful means of differentiation, allowing businesses to carve a unique space in customers' minds and move to the forefront of the market.
By leveraging design to create visually striking and memorable experiences, businesses can capture attention, evoke emotions, and create a lasting impression.
Differentiation through design helps businesses to break away from the sea of sameness, attracting customers who value innovative and visually appealing solutions. It gives businesses a competitive edge, and the process enhances their ability to win market share and drive growth.
04 Captivating Storytelling
The design has an innate ability to tell compelling stories that resonate with those who are most important to your business. It enhances the hard work of marketers and conveys the brand's carefully constructed ethos.
Marketers can leverage design to create visually captivating campaigns that convey brand messages effectively and engage customers on a deeper level. By weaving together design and storytelling, businesses can leave a lasting impact in customers' hearts and minds, fostering brand loyalty and advocacy.
A brand should be seen and remembered; ultimately, it should be experienced. — Anastasia Rezhepp, Design Director at ettyq
How Does Design Strategy Align With Marketing Strategy?
Design strategy is a powerful marketing tool, one that decision-makers and those leading teams cannot afford to ignore.
Marketing and design go hand in hand. The aim of both is to provide an engaging and consistent experience for potential customers that sells the brand and provides value.
Both work in unison to understand the customers’ needs and better target these to make the experience seamless. By applying design thinking principles, businesses can identify pain points, streamline interactions, and create intuitive interfaces that guide customers towards desired actions. Marketing strategies align with this customer-centric approach, utilising insights from design strategy to develop targeted messaging and campaigns that resonate with customers at each stage of their journey.
How Does Design Strategy Aid Corporate Strategy?
Design strategy fosters innovation within a business and serves as a vital ally in shaping broader corporate strategy as well as encouraging adaptability, and supporting growth.
By embracing design thinking methodologies, businesses can foster a culture of creativity, exploration, and problem-solving. Design strategy encourages collaboration, enabling diverse perspectives and ideas to converge. This collaborative approach allows businesses to uncover unique solutions, discover untapped opportunities, and stay ahead.
Design Strategy & Company Values
design strategy aligns with the core values of a company, reflecting its commitment to providing the very best experience for everyone involved. By placing the customer at the forefront, design strategy ensures that every touchpoint, product, and interaction is thoughtfully crafted to meet and exceed customer expectations, showing the true value that the business has to offer.
How Does Design Strategy Help Boost Revenue?
Design strategy is a powerful tool for corporate growth. There are a few better options for decision-makers looking for investments that can both boost ROI and provide improved customer experiences.
Design strategy plays a crucial role in improving conversion rates. By crafting engaging and persuasive design elements, businesses can guide customers towards desired actions, such as purchasing or filling out a form. Thoughtfully designed call-to-action buttons, compelling visuals, and seamless checkout processes increase conversion rates, translating into increased revenue.
How To Grow Your Business Using Design Strategy
Step 1: Understand Your Customers and Market
To embark on a successful journey of design strategy, it’s vital to deeply understand your customers and the market in which you operate. This crucial step sets the foundation for effective design decisions that resonate with your target audience. By utilising Customer Journey Mapping (CJM), businesses can uncover bottlenecks and identify opportunities to create a comprehensive and consistent customer experience across all touchpoints.
This early understanding will provide deep insights into customer needs, preferences, and market opportunities and guide the rest of the design journey.
Market analysis provides a broader perspective, revealing industry trends, competitor strategies, and emerging opportunities.
This understanding of customers and the market serves as the compass guiding design strategy decisions. It enables businesses to align their design choices with the expectations and aspirations of their target audience. By embracing user-centric design principles, companies can create solutions that truly resonate.
Step 2: Craft a Compelling Design Strategy
Armed with a deep understanding of customers and their goals, businesses can craft a compelling design strategy. This strategy encompasses brand positioning, visual elements, and messaging that attracts and engages customers.
While businesses can undertake design strategy in-house, partnering with design experts ensures the most certain path to achieving exceptional results. According to research from Parsons School of Design, companies that excel at design thinking often seek external guidance to enhance their capabilities. The study reveals that half of the design-led organisations reported learning design thinking from coaches, agencies, or academic institutions. This allowed them to develop excellent design strategies and further their own knowledge of the core concepts.
Design professionals bring specialised knowledge, experience, and a fresh perspective to the table. Their expertise in design strategy allows businesses to tap into the latest trends, best practices, and innovative approaches, elevating the design strategy to new heights. Partnerships between thought leaders and design experts have led to unique and exciting design strategies that have transformed businesses from top to bottom.
Step 3: Enhance Customer Experiences
Intuitive interfaces, seamless interactions, and personalised journeys are the core of the design strategy's impact.
Work in partnership with your designers to create a user-first experience that completely transforms how users engage with and view your business. To ensure the practicality and appeal of these designs, consider creating a product mockup as part of the development process.
Step 4: Foster Innovation and Adaptability
design strategy embrace innovation and adaptability as core principles. It’s key to the success of your design journey.
It’s important that design is treated as a product that evolves, continuously adapting to both the market and user feedback. The design process takes an iterative approach, allowing for constant refinement and improvement.
This constant adaptation and improvement ensure that the design strategy remains relevant and impactful. Rather than following a rigid set of rules, design strategy is a living experience that evolves with the needs and demands of the market and customers.