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Using Design in Business

By: Chanie Pritchard at Sage Media

Submitted on Wed, Nov 22nd, 2006 12:00 am

The importance of design in business is often underestimated. The reality is, human beings are visually oriented; we place a lot of stock in what we see, and we base our decisions heavily on it.

Design in business is much more than just catchy ads. You can use design to generate new ideas and turn them into innovative and competitive products and services, improve your business processes and strengthen and deepen your marketing approach.

If used systematically across your business, design can bring a range of measurable commercial benefits:

  • Improved sales and conversion rates

  • Improved market position

  • Greater customer loyalty

  • A stronger and more credible identity for your business

  • The ability to open up new markets

Design increases the value of your products and services to your customers. A professional image for your business and its offerings gives customers a reason for buying from you, and not from your competitors. In addition to improving the customers impression of the products and services you sell, design can also improve the way your business operates - the efficiency of its processes, the quality of its packaging and the marketability of the business.

Most people think of design as simply decorating covering the outward appearance of products or the graphic elements of things such as your website, packaging and marketing materials. While these things are very important, they are just the tip of the iceberg. Design actually plays a part in nearly every aspect of what most businesses do. For example, when a business creates a consistent look across its products, signage, stationery and its marketing activities, they are using design to improve their business and future prospects.

You can also use design to benefit your business in less obvious ways:

  • product and engineering design

  • graphic design - from manuals and marketing literature to signage and software interfaces

  • packaging design

  • software design

  • retail and point-of-sale design

  • interior design and fit-outs

  • exhibition and trade show material design

  • promotional design

  • annual reports and company presentations

Its a good idea to conduct a design audit - look at key areas of your business such as your brand, your product and service development, your work practices and customer communication and consider what role design plays in them. There may be opportunities to use design to make your business more efficient and to add value to your products and services for your customers.

Its also a good idea to remember that corporate design is a highly specialized field. The ability to design and build a house does not come included with the purchase of a hammer it is the same with corporate design. While the tools designers use continue to improve the industry and design products immensely, there is much more to successful design than picking up a software package.


  • review prospective design firms portfolios carefully

  • ensure the work shown in the portfolios was actually done by the firm or professional

  • discuss your project with a senior designer before signing a contract

  • ensure the designer is familiar with marketing and sound corporate design theory and standards

  • make certain the firm will be doing the work (beware of outsourcers - fronts for cheap unqualified labour)

  • ask questions enough until you are comfortable the firm suits your business perfectly

  • trust the professionals to do a professional job - if you were a designer, you would have done it yourself!

Sage Media is an international corporate design firm based in Ottawa, Ontario.

About the Author

Chanie Pritchard
Sage Media
Chanie Pritchard, D.A. Founder, Sage Media Design Co.

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