Is Investing in Design Worth It? Here Are 7 Reasons Why It Is

Is Investing in Design Worth It? Here Are 7 Reasons Why It Is

Innovative companies operate with a well-defined vision for the future. They use their design to express that vision and make it come alive so people can see, feel, and understand it without any shadow of a doubt.

Ask them if it costs them to invest in design — and they’ll say it pays off in spades. In other words, they don’t look at design as a cost but as an investment.

However, not every company is as enlightened. Most of them view their design and visual messaging as an afterthought, something to be placed on the back burner and delegated to the cheapest designer with some talent.

But this is a big mistake, as it’s been proven, time and time again, that investing in design — whether for branding, marketing collateral, or web design — pays off quite handsomely when done well. 

The attempt to save money on design often costs more in the long run — especially when you’re quick to invest in diverse marketing channels but refuse to invest in a strong brand identity and then wonder why their message gets lost in the mix.

#1. Design Adds Value to Your Company

A good design- whether for your logo or marketing collateral- is crucial to how people perceive and understand your company. When done right, it can communicate what you’re all about — your values, the quality of your work, everything.

It also helps you stand out from your competitors and present a well-organized, trustworthy image to potential clients.

A study conducted by Warwick Business School on behalf of the UK’s Design Council shows that businesses that invested in designs registered an increase in value by:

  • Driving innovations and new products that open up uncontested market spaces: The best example is Apple, whose innovations opened up several new markets. The iPod and the iPhone are good examples of this.

Differentiating yourself from their competitors to attract Customers is especially important in crowded and saturated markets. Apple again comes to mind, but so do Starbucks and Nike.

  • Strengthening branding and marketing efforts: A good design is a strong branding tool and can serve as an effective marketing tool in many cases.

Good design — logos, colours, layout, fonts, and everything else that makes up a visual identity — helps create a consistent experience for your customers.

It also gives you a unique identity that drives people to your brand.

  • Differentiating Your Products and Services to Stand Out: Thousands of companies like yours exist no matter what industry you’re in. In fact, even with a unique value proposition, you still need to find creative ways to stand out from the crowd and get your message across.

Design is one such way. A good design helps communicate what you’re about and what your company has to offer with minimum fuss. And it’s been proven time and again that a good visual identity is essential in establishing trust, credibility, and loyalty with your customers.

#2. Great Design Sells

Let’s clear this up right off the bat — design doesn’t sell; it simply helps you tell your story.

But if design tells stories that resonate with customers and potential clients, it does help sell your products or services.

There’s a reason why Apple’s marketing campaigns are so successful: It all comes down to great storytelling.

Naturally, your business would be motivated by numbers and profits, not just your brand’s aesthetic appeal. But why does it matter so much?

Simply put, people buy from businesses they trust and believe in — something that a great design can help you achieve with ease.

Numerous studies have shown that design-led companies turn in higher profits and better brand recognition.

Digital Experience Design summarizes the findings in their recent blog post:

  • Design Increases Revenue: For every £1 spent on design, they should expect about £20 in increased revenue. 
  • There’s a Direct Correlation Between Design and Profit: For every £1 invested in design, businesses should expect over £4 increase in net operating profit.
  • Design Boosts Exports: For every £1 invested in design, businesses can expect over £5 increase in exports.  

You don’t need to sell a multi-billion-dollar product to reap the benefits of great design. Even small businesses can use this to make their brand more profitable. And with such a strong correlation between design and profit, it’s safe to say that investing in quality designs is worth every penny.

#3. First Impressions Count

94% of what’s considered a good first impression is design-related.

Your logo, website, and social media profiles are all part of the overall design that makes up your brand. 

Don’t forget that you only have one chance to make a good first impression with potential customers, employers, or investors. You mess it up, and you can kiss the opportunity goodbye. 

At the same time, great design makes a powerful statement of your business’s commitment to quality and excellence.

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A study conducted by Google’s research team found that web users formulate an opinion about a company within 50 milliseconds after landing on their website. You’ve heard customers talk of gut feelings. Well, it’s not just a hunch. Because of these initial reactions, they decide to stay, leave a website, or perhaps click on the “buy” button immediately.

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Design is all about creating an emotional connection with the audience.

Learn how to make people fall in love with your brand, and you’ll be able to get them hooked for life — or at the very least, remember your brand whenever they think about buying a certain product.

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The same study would also find that visual complexity and prototypicality (how much a website looks and feels in line with what users expect) play a crucial role in customers’ decisions to stay or leave a website.

That happens in incredibly short time spaces, between 17 and 50 milliseconds, to be precise — or faster than you could bat an eyelid.

On the other hand, lousy design not only turns away prospective customers and clients but also damages your brand’s image and credibility. Good designs show that you take pride in your work and value quality. 

It all boils down to this simple fact: Investing in design is not a luxury. It’s a necessity. 

That’s just one of the many studies that attest to the power of good design in ensuring your brand’s success and survival.

Let’s provide some clarity:

These images show that when a business website has a high visual complexity (a lot of text, options, clutter, and other visual elements), users perceive it as less appealing, welcoming, and trustworthy.

In the same vein, if the design seems unfamiliar to them (that is, it has low prototypicality), users perceive it as less pleasing, regardless of how simple it looks.

As you can see, good design isn’t about keeping everything simple or cluttering your website with unnecessary elements. It’s about striking the right balance and finding what appeals and looks familiar in the eyes of the viewer. 

You want to start by keeping things simple (low complexity) and familiar (high prototypicality) to ensure that users find your website attractive and worthwhile. Then, once they’re already on your site, you can start exploring other design avenues to boost engagement and conversions.

And remember, design is an art of subtlety.

A good design doesn’t have to be loud, flashy, or over the top. It can simply make a great first impression through its simplicity and familiarity, then continue to engage customers through effective use of colour, typography, and imagery.

#4. Controlling Perceptions

A good design is geared toward controlling viewers’ perceptions.

Have you ever been to a restaurant or watched a TV show and noticed how much effort they put into the presentation? It’s not just about the food or the show. It’s about the whole experience, from how it looks to how it feels.

They do this because they understand that what we see and feel affects our perception of a product or service. 

And when it comes to business, perception is everything.

Think about Apple, for instance. Despite being one of the world’s leading tech companies, its products are often considered pricey and high-end. But none of that matters because when people think about Apple, they associate it with quality and prestige. 

And this is what good design can do for your business: create a positive association in the customer’s mind and drive them to take action (whether buying from you or recommending you to others).

So, how can you control perceptions with design? There are several things you can do, such as:

  • Focusing on simplicity and cleanliness creates a sense of professionalism and trustworthiness
  • Using colour psychology to evoke specific moods or emotions (such as excitement, joy, calmness, etc.)
  • Incorporating familiar or recognizable elements (such as icons, illustrations, fonts, etc.) to make the user feel more at ease
  • Leveraging movement and animation to capture attention subtly

We’ve established that people eat first with their eyes and then with their mouths. 

It’s the same with business. Before prospective customers can even consider buying from you, they must first perceive your brand as trustworthy and high-quality. 

Malcolm Gladwell’s book, “Blink, The Power of Thinking without Thinking,” argues that the slightest changes or tweaks we make in our designs can significantly impact how customers view and perceive our brands. 

Using 7UP as an example, he notes that adding 15% more yellow to the fizzy drink leads to people reporting it as lemonier tasty, even though they had done nothing to change the beverage’s flavour. 

It’s the same with Chef Boyardee Ravioli’s can– adding a picture of a human face to the label led people to perceive it as tastier, even though the food inside was the same. 

Hormel also did the same thing with their logo — adding a sprig of parsley to the logo made customers perceive their product as fresher and, therefore, more desirable. 

So, in a nutshell: good design isn’t just about aesthetics or how something looks. It’s about manipulating perceptions to drive engagement and conversion. And that takes careful planning, strategy, and execution.

Good design isn’t just about making things pretty or visually appealing. It’s about understanding how people make decisions, what they look for in a product or service, and then using that knowledge to drive action. So, think carefully about how you want people to perceive your brand, then design with that in mind.

#5. Great Design Makes Your Brand Memorable

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You certainly don’t want your business to be easily forgotten. 

After a customer’s first experience with your brand, how much of an impression do you think they’ll remember? 

If it’s hazy or fleeting, you’ve got some work. 

But if it sticks in their mind like a song does on repeat (you know the one), then you’re doing something right.

And that’s what great design can do for your brand: make it memorable. 

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Think about it, products and services are a dime a dozen nowadays. With so many options available to consumers, it’s no surprise that people will quickly forget about you if you can’t figure out how to leave a lasting impression.

It starts with the colour. The colour you use on the business website, marketing materials, and packaging will help set the tone and help define your brand. 

Think of McDonald’s golden arches, the bright red of Coca-Cola bottles, or Tiffany’s robin egg blue (for something more subtle). 

Investing in professional designers can help you choose the right colours and make sure that your brand stands out from the crowd.

And it doesn’t stop there. Through clever typography, layout, and images, crafting a stellar tagline or slogan, you can create a brand experience that your customers will remember for years to come.

#6. Communicate Your Brand Message Clearly

When you think of some of the most iconic brands worldwide, it’s no surprise that their branding and design are almost immediately recognizable. 

Think Apple or Nike, for example. Their brand messages and communication are clear, concise, and consistent across all platforms (both offline and online). Let’s take a look at how they do it: 

  • The Apple logo is iconic, simple, and instantly recognizable. This simplicity helps the brand stand out from its competition and creates a sense of quality.
  • Nike uses minimalism to good effect when communicating its brand message: “Just do it.” It’s direct, consequential, and encourages people to take action.
  • McDonald’s tagline is simple and easy to remember: “I’m lovin’ it.” Again, this is an effective way of communicating with customers. 

Of course, these are just a few examples. But they all have one thing in common—they communicate their brand messages clearly and concisely, which helps drive engagement, conversions, and loyalty.

The only way to achieve this kind of branding is through careful planning, strategy, and execution. And that’s where hiring a professional design agency can really pay off. 

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DIY design isn’t bad. It might save you a few dollars, but it probably won’t do much for your brand in the long run. 

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Quality design means investing in professionalism, consistency, and brand recognition. And that’s what every business strives for. 

You want to sit with an experienced designer and lay down your ideas, strategy, and vision for the brand. 

Then work with them to create something that leaves an impact on your customers—and helps you achieve all your business goals in the process.

Some key benefits of hiring a pro designer include: 

  • Clear, consistent communication of your brand message. Professional designers know how to communicate your brand’s message clearly and eloquently, whether it’s a tagline, slogan, or logo.
  • Consistent brand identity. A quality designer will help ensure that your branding is consistent across all marketing platforms, whether on your website, in print materials, promotional products, etc. That creates a strong, unified brand presence that customers will immediately recognize and respond to.
  • A thorough understanding of your business goals and objectives: Professional designers work with clients regularly and understand what it takes to succeed for their businesses. That means they can help you create something that truly embodies the essence of your brand–and helps you reach your goals.

#7. Design Creates Company Unity

Your company logo should be everywhere–from your website to your business cards, promotional products, signage, uniform, stationary, and more. 

It’s all about consistency and cohesion, and good design is what creates unity. 

Think about it–when you see a logo, even for the first time, there’s instant recognition and connection with that brand. 

And it’s not just about the customers you’re targeting. It starts with your in-house team.

You want to consistently place your design elements in front of your employees and tell them, “This is us. This is who we are.” 

Let them see the logo, look at the branding and visual elements, and feel that sense of unity. 

A professional design agency can help you create a strong brand identity that reflects your company’s core values–and helps bring everyone together as one team.

How to Apply Design to Your Business 

To create an authentic and cohesive company culture, you must ensure you have applied your design elements throughout your business. 

Here are some tips on how to effectively incorporate design into your business:

  • Start by developing a clear and consistent brand identity. That means choosing a logo, colour palette, and typeface that reflect your company’s values and convey your message in an impactful way. 
  • Be sure to incorporate your branding elements in your marketing materials–including website design, print materials, signage, promotional products, and more. 
  • Work with a professional designer who understands your business goals and objectives–and can help you create a design that truly resonates with your team and customers. 
  • In addition to using design to unify your company culture, look for ways to apply it throughout your internal processes and operations. For example, you can use design to create engaging training materials or marketing tools that help employees better understand your business goals. 
  • Finally, remember that good design isn’t just about aesthetics–it’s also about function. So, focus on finding ways to make your design work for your business by optimizing your website for better search engine rankings or creating marketing tools that drive conversions. 

With the right design elements and approach, you can create a strong, unified brand that truly resonates with your customers and employees.

About the Author

Tom Koh

Tom is the CEO and Principal Consultant of MediaOne, a leading digital marketing agency. He has consulted for MNCs like Canon, Maybank, Capitaland, SingTel, ST Engineering, WWF, Cambridge University, as well as Government organisations like Enterprise Singapore, Ministry of Law, National Galleries, NTUC, e2i, SingHealth. His articles are published and referenced in CNA, Straits Times, MoneyFM, Financial Times, Yahoo! Finance, Hubspot, Zendesk, CIO Advisor.

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