Many marketers are cutting back on their design budgets during the economic crisis induced by COVID-19. To them, it seems wasteful to spend money on graphic design when sales are down.
Is this something you’ve done or are considering? If so, recent research shows this could be a mistake.
According to an in-depth study by McKinsey & Co., organizations that put a greater focus on design increased revenue by an average of 10% year over year. Comparatively, competitors who focused less on design only grew their revenue between 3 and 6% annually.
In addition, the McKinsey design study proved that companies that focused on design delivered returns to their investors that were approximately 50% higher than competitors that cared less about business design.
But what can you do to get your firm to focus more on design value during these challenging times? Here are three ways for your operation to improve its design presence without straining your marketing budget or stressing out your staff.
1. Shift your thinking about business design.
Traditional definitions of graphic design focus on the production aspect of it, as in the act of combining text, images and other elements to create digital, print, video and other experiences. More modern definitions focus on the audience, as in the science of developing visual representations that are appropriate and meaningful to their intended audiences.
See the difference?
The first focuses on the creation of a visual presentation. The second shifts the focus to the connection with the intended audience–a subtle, but critical change. So while old school design is about the development process, modern design theory is about optimizing the reception of the material.
Design is about structure and strategy. It’s one thing to create pretty images and write about your company. It’s another thing to tell compelling visual stories that will get people to act. It’s different, and our goal at SketchDeck is helping our clients understand the differences.
Aislinn Barry, SketchDeck head of digital services
After all, any information that doesn’t elicit a response from people in your target audience is a complete waste of time and money. Do this enough times and you could lose complete credibility with those you’re trying to sell to, along with your chance to do business with them permanently.
Getting your design team to focus on the end user rather than the development process, however, could reduce waste within your marketing organization while increasing sales. Do this long enough, and you will be able to do much more with far less, unlocking the value of design.
With that said, making this shift could involve a big change in thinking. Shifting the focus of design to the end user is revolutionary, and might even force designers to develop some things they consider “bad design.” However, any design that connects with prospective customers while representing your company in a good light is good design, and will pay off in increased revenue long-term.
The bottom line: Changing how your team thinks about design will take time, but it doesn’t cost you anything. It will pay off in the long run with better design that gets prospective customers to take action.
2. Break through information overload.
Today’s world is packed full of information. According to Forbes, the average person is exposed to between 4,000 and 10,000 images every day. Everyone is constantly bombarded with social posts, ads, photos, videos and more. Some are meaningful, but most are ignored.
So, how can you find the images and design elements that will break through?
Test and learn, test and learn, test and learn. Then do it again.
Testing doesn’t have to be expensive, either. Many marketers remember the days when it was costly–involving multiple focus groups in many locations, or expensive online surveys that had to be incentivized with cash or gift cards. In these cases, the results were once removed from reality because the testing wasn’t done in a real world setting.
Today, you can do inexpensive real world testing through social media and other forms of online advertising. Simply expose people in your target audience to new creative elements to find out how they respond in real life.
You’ll no longer be completely dependent on your design team members for their perspectives on what will break through to your customers. By testing and learning, you’ll have actual data that proves what works and what doesn’t for certain segments. In addition, you can constantly test against your current winning creative, looking for new powerhouse design elements–a process especially important during changing times like these.
The bottom line: You’re already spending money on advertising, so why not use a small portion of your spend on testing and learning? It’s a cost-neutral way to improve your designs and your results now and in the future.
3. Refine, but fast.
Design can be refined to the point where it becomes useless.
The world today is changing faster than anyone could ever imagine, presenting new business opportunities and challenges all the time. Responding to them in real time is therefore critical–snooze and you lose to your competitors.
As a result, it’s important to work with your design team on reducing turnaround time on timely projects. Set priorities with your team and focus on the truly important elements. At a time when people are exposed to thousands of images every day, will the raindrops on the roses or the whiskers on the kittens in a photo really make a difference? In some cases, yes–but in many others, probably not.
The bottom line: Encouraging your designers to focus on what’s most important for a particular project will likely allow you to do more with less. It will make your graphics more responsive to real-time events. Timeliness is a quality of new age fine design, while perfection may not hold as much value.
Are you ready to commit your organization to graphic design, and change how your marketing team thinks about it? You don’t have to go it alone. Simply share your contact information with SketchDeck and a friendly expert will get back to you to provide the advice and support you need.
Harnessing the value of design is the first step to increasing the revenue your business could earn in the year ahead and beyond–so what are you waiting for?