Design plays an instrumental role in driving business success. But it’s often difficult for marketing managers to convince C-Suite leadership of the importance of good design.

Design is an investment in innovative thinking—branding and communication that creates value through competitive advantage, customer trust and market share—ultimately increasing profitability. It can be a differentiator when it truly matters.

But don’t just take our word for it. Here are some examples:

Design and the stock market

A 2013 study revealed that design-led companies have outperformed the S&P 500 by an impressive 228% over the past 10 years. A “design-led company” was strictly defined as companies that embedded design leadership at senior levels and utilized design as an innovation resource. Those companies, not surprisingly, include: Apple, Coca Cola, Ford, Herman-Miller, IBM, Intuit, Newell-Rubbermaid, Nike, Procter & Gamble, Starbucks, Starwood, Steelcase, Target, Walt Disney and Whirlpool.

People notice 

When design looks good, people notice. And when design looks bad, people notice that, too. You want your brand and design to be memorable for the right reasons—after all, you only get one chance for a first impression.  Good design not only gets your company noticed, it helps build trust with clients and customers. People tend to make a decision regarding an organization’s credibility in a split second—and that judgment is often based on design. 

Design needs strategy 

Design should be at the center of your corporate strategy. Nike is a great example of a company that has leveraged design for bottom line results. CEO, Mark Parker, has a design team that reports directly to him, and no decision is made without their input. Through directly interaction with practicing athletes the team devises authentic performance innovations and style updates. This intentional elevation of design to a C-suite priority not only impacts Nike’s brand, it has created a competitive advantage and allows the company to command higher price premiums for its products.

As a result of Nike’s design-centric strategy, Nike ranked 24th on Interbrand’s 2013 list of the World’s most valuable brands—two slots up from the prior year and a 13% increase in value to $17.085 billion. Nike was also ranked #7 most innovative company by Fast Company in 2014.

Design and user experience

In today’s digital world, user experience is critical to success, whether it’s your company website, mobile app or other tool. Great design is at the core of a solid user experience and can make the difference between a complex, frustrating experience and a delightful one. Well-designed interactions can save clients time, make them more productive, and, in turn, make them feel better.

For example, think about when you use a financial app like Mint, or a banking app. When you are able to easily check your accounts, deposit money, or make transfers, you’re pleased with your interaction with that brand. Now think of a time when you were trying to navigate a site or app and were unable to find what you needed. You likely closed out of it because you were frustrated.

Every interaction with your brand, whether digital, print or in person, matters. Companies that have outdated websites are missing out on a huge opportunity to engage with clients and prospects and add value to their experience. By providing a great user experience through strategic design, you will add value to your company and brand.

Design is an investment 

Good design is strategic, engaging, functional and impactful. It exemplifies your brand, tells your story and helps you stand out from the competition. It adds perceived value both internally and externally—allowing you to have higher margins than your competitors. Demonstrating that you value your brand by investing in good design can pay significant dividends that are hard to ignore.

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Is it possible to have a successful company without good design? Yes, it’s possible. But is it worth the risk? Ralph Speth, CEO of Jaguar, said, “If you think good design is expensive, you should look at the cost of bad design.”