Photo: Bill Post
What do the Great Pyramid of Giza, the Parthenon, Leonard’s “Mona Lisa” and “Vetruvian Man” and the paintings of Rafael, Rembrandt, Seurat and Mondrian all have in common?They were all designed using the Golden Ratio, a mathematical ratio called Phi that is also found in nature.
The shell of a chambered nautilus, for instance, is an exact mathematical spiral based on the Golden Ratio. The ancients first found that shapes with this ratio were pleasing to the eye.
A couple of years ago, science caught up with pure aesthetics. An award-winning engineer and professor of mechanical engineering at Duke University said his research shows the human eye interprets, and the brain processes, an image featuring the golden ratio faster than any other.
Design is all around us. Customers and consumers are used to eye-candy: clever, creative, communicative design, they expect it. It helps them make choices. In choosing one brand over another or one business among many, they will pick the one with the great design every time—even if they don’t know why they like it.
So here are three good reasons why design matters in your business plan.
Design Makes Ideas Visible
Have you ever been at an art gallery and stood before a great piece of art that seems really simple? I have, and while I’m standing there marveling at it, sometimes I’ve heard another viewer say something like “I could have painted that” or “My 6-year-old could have painted that!” I inevitably want to say “No, you could not have painted this because you DIDN’T paint this.”
Why? Because our prototypical art critic DIDN’T THINK OF IT.
In business, design—whether it’s for a business identity, a new product or an advertising campaign—is a collaborative process that starts with an idea. A designer makes that idea visible. “Design is the part of your business communication that shows your competence. It shows that you understand aesthetics,” says designer Janet Conover, head of Xarktopia LLC, a small, international media consulting and design firm in an interview with a local reporter.
Design ideas that are too complicated or cumbersome won’t work, and you will find out quickly that you can’t make the viewer work to understand them. Your viewer and potential customer doesn’t have the time or the patience to figure something out. That’s why good design makes the complex simple and has obvious, common sense appeal. A customer’s reaction might be “Cool! Why didn’t I think of that?” If that’s the reaction, your brand has hit home and is now memorable.
Delve into the world of design in these TED talks.
Design Communicates Your Brand Instantly
“Design communicates things without words, subliminally and subconsciously, so you really want to make sure that your design is your message,” Conover says. “Ask yourself, are we a tech company? Are we a classic company? Your design communicates to your target audience.”
“Design is branding holistically,” she says. “You want to think about your brand as more than a label you stick on your product.”
No doubt you’ve heard about the trend toward “democratization of design” or “design thinking” at all levels throughout a company. It hasn’t been embraced by business executives who prefer to keep their departments separate and pay the creative people to do creative things. But creativity comes in many forms and is inherent in all of us. More heads on a design project to create the idea that’s shaped into design can certainly be a good thing.
Design Separates The Amateurs From The Pros
A business plan that includes design inspires confidence. Design transmits the business and its brand fast and makes chances of success greater. Clients and customers will be seeing the design message again and again whether you are a startup, a small but growing business, or a large company branding a niche product or market.
Most businesses I’ve worked with, as well as customers, don’t want design served on the cheap.
“You want your design work to resonate with your customers,” Conover says. “When you skimp on something like that, it doesn’t say much about your company. If you’re cutting corners on design, it makes me wonder what else you’re cutting corners on.”
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