Good Design is Your Best Business Strategy

by | Oct 26, 2016 | Blog, Branding | Graphic Design

IBM set the standard for good design. IBM was Apple before Apple was Apple.


Both logos pop up in your mind even though IBM earned its stripes 44 years ago. Thanks to Paul Rand, (a pillar in the design industry, of I ♥ New York fame and a career encompassing six decades), IBM was one of the first companies to intentionally use cohesive design and strategic design principles as part of their marketing strategy. Before Rand, different branch locations had their own version of IBM stationery. Now, it’s someone’s job to make sure the logo is in IBM’s precise shade of blue whether you see it on television, a billboard, business cards or as a social media avatar. Don’t believe me? Print this post and see if the logo that printed is exactly the same blue as the one you see on your screen. Color management is no small feat.

In terms of business strategy, design is the difference between Walmart and Target. Both are discount retail stores. Depending on the product one is probably cheaper. Which store are you more inclined to shop at? It’s because of design. Target even spells it out right on their Purpose & Beliefs page:

“It’s our belief that great design is fun, energetic, surprising and smart–and it should be accessible and affordable for everyone. When we talk about our dedication to good design, we don’t just mean how something looks, but also how it satisfies a need, how it simplifies your life, and how it makes you feel.”

It shows. From their products to their use of freelancers for in-store displays and gift card artwork, I smile when I recognize a designer’s work and know there’s more to Target than the cheapest price and my spending dollars reflect that. Target’s customers have come to expect and rely on it.

That all sounds nice, but this is business. In today’s market, good design is good business.

“In the past 10 years, design-driven companies outperformed the Standard & Poor’s 500—a stock market index of 500 large publicly traded companies—by 228% (Apple, Coca-Cola, Ford, Herman Miller, IBM, Intuit, Newell Rubbermaid, Nike, Procter & Gamble, Starbucks, Starwood, Steelcase, Target, Walt Disney, and Whirlpool” – Carey Dunne, Fastco Design

It has long been believed that the way to succeed at business is to stand out, differentiating through price, quality of product or level of service. As consumers become more aware of their choices, we see design being added to that list.


Roundpeg is an Indianapolis graphic design firm.

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