Design Value, Value Design

“How much would a logo be? How much does a brochure cost? How much is a website?” We get asked these questions quite a lot. in fact I am sure all designers get asked these questions quite a lot and I wish the answer was a simple "brochures cost X and logos cost Y" and be done with it, but the answer is never that simple. Lets take the brochure, why can we not just give a simple answer to a simple question, well firstly, who is it for? Will we have to rewrite the copy? Will we have to draw a lot of charts and diagrams? Will we need a photographer? How big will it be, 4 pages, 30 pages, 200? The answers to these questions determine the scope of the job and in turn the amount of time required to deliver, because ultimately it is time you are paying for.

When we see a logo spoken about in our national press (rarely I know) its often under the banner of “this squiggle/scrawl/box/circle cost the taxpayer €25,000!!!!” unfortunately this sound bite does everyone a dis-service, the logo didn’t cost that, but a new brand or identity system may have and that’s a whole different kettle of fish. An identity involves working out that underbelly of understanding, identifying the right strategy, positioning in the market that gives you that distinction and competitive edge,. Building on that platform you then need to work out what you say, how you say it, how you look and then probably applying it in print, online, onair, and most of all it involves an investment of time. The sound bite not only harms design as a profession but everyone else as well, design is a powerful problem solving tool, capable of connecting people in more meaningful and resonant ways and ignoring it means missing out on what is a powerful driver for growth and positive change.

Good design is not about decorating, it’s about communicating, connecting, creating internal focus and cohesion, it can provide a real springboard for positive change and make a real impact on target markets, good design going forward is going to be an increasingly important tool for business. As a nation we are neighbours to one of the worlds truly great design powerhouses, the UK creative industry is worth £8 million an hour to the British economy and worth a staggering £74.1 billion to the UK economy as a whole.

So if design is so good, if it can do all these great things why aren’t we all crying out for it? Well there’s a few simple reasons, firstly I fear designers have not always done a great job of explaining it, nor has every design practioner been all that great at creating design that delivers, you can say the same for most professions, but hiring a designer is not the solution, hiring a good designer, a designer that will work well collaboratively with your business is the right step. Next there is a little real knowledge of what design does, we all know what a logo is for instance, but few know what a brand really is and the assumption of knowledge can be a hindrance rather than help, we have to be open to learning more, to unleash the greater potential of design rather than box it in by our narrow parameters based on limited information. Finally design is seen as a luxury, only companies like Apple or BMW for example can afford good design, the rest of us simply aren’t that rich to layer it on, this is a massive error, Apple and BMW are successful because of design, they did not become successful and then layer it on, its in their bones, design is not the outward attractive face but the inward functional skeleton, what you see on the outside is only a reflection of what goes on throughout.

We genuinely believe that design will become ever more vital to business, as we use more channels to communicate, as the customers and clients have ever greater choice, as people make decisions that sit closer to their personal values and aspirations, businesses that don’t embrace design will find themselves falling increasingly behind. Design is also changing to meet these ever increasing needs, so that little bit of knowledge on the subject is only a starting point, we all need to be open about it. For us designers we need to make sure that what we do is based on solid foundations, that we understand things not only intellectually but connect with them on an instinctual level, we need to create work that works. Ultimately everything comes back to time, investing time in the right places always pays off in the end, understanding something is never an expensive luxury and any design work where time hasn't been invested in understanding, building communictions from the inside out, are merely creating outputs rather than focused solutions that deliver.

 Adam Gallacher


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