It’s about investment

Design is commonly seen as a cost. It can come from the client from a lack of understanding, or equally from the design agency that concentrates on order taking or the aesthetics and not enough on the return on investment (ROI). Design is one of the most important investments Irish marketers can make in business, either internally or externally.

But don’t just take my word for it. For evidence, look at Apple. Whether you want to drive competitive advantage, engage customers or staff, change behaviours or even save lives, think design. The Design Business Association (DBA) in the UK rewards effective work in a similar way to what IAPI does with ADFX. Interestingly, DBA numbers agencies and clients among its members. Here are some of the stars…

Take Bear, the healthy snack brand. From £0 to £6.4million in sales in only 3 years. It’s the fastest growing brand in healthy snacking and now sits in the unbranded fresh products aisle in supermarkets – something that was supposedly impossible prior to launch. At the heart of their success is great design.

Take British Gas. They reduced their costs by £750,000 per year as a result of a drop in customer calls by 10 per cent. The reason for the call drop was a redesigned utility bill. Giving practical customer information in a well – designed, easily digestible format resulted in a communicating key details and reducing customer service calls.

Take Gas Safe’s Silent Killer campaign. It attracted 30,000 website visitors with the aim to change behaviour relating to unsafe gas work in the North West of England. It resulted in a whopping 300 per cent increase in high risk households having annual safety checks. Silents Killer was later rolled out nationwide in the UK.

There are many other great examples. The British government actively consults with the design industry. The award – winning site combined all government websites into one, It is design thinking using public money to get the best results, It is true to say the UK is leading the way and it’s worth our while checking them out.

Design can increase clicks, deliver services better, reduce calls, get you noticed, get you understood, change mindsets, create markets, improve processes and even reduce costs. Many clients reading use a design agency and some may see them as a cost. Yes there is a cost but there’s also a much bigger cost not to think design.

As an aside, the Creative Industries Federation (CIF) is the new independent voice of Britain’s arts, cultural and creative interests. They realise there is strength in numbers and see the need to define their own future, As a small economy and industry, with a lot of associations and bodies – many poorly supported, there is much we could learn.

This article was first published in Magazine’s Design Brief column in January 2015.