Design and innovation are inextricably intertwined. Design gives form to innovation making new products practical and attractive to users, thereby increasing the prospect of successful implementation or commercialisation.
Research in the United Kingdom shows that businesses in which design is integral to operations, are twice as likely to have introduced new products or services compared to those who are not design aware.
Not surprisingly then, businesses with a track record of innovation usually have a strong appreciation for the role that product design plays in taking their products to market. And yet, I am often surprised at how little store is placed in the role that graphic design plays in that process.
Graphic design is of unequivocal importance in greasing the wheels of innovation. It is the catalyst driving successful commercialisation and can, clearly, be the difference between success and oblivion.
The key to using graphic design to enhance your prospects of success (statistically doubling them), lies in understanding what can be achieved through intelligent use of your design resource.
At its core level, we look to four key areas of impact:
Improved prospects of securing funding for innovation: By giving your innovation a visual identity, and by creating coherent and compelling communication material, your are more likely to persuade both individuals and institutions to invest in your idea.
Improved stakeholder engagement: Similarly, by making your idea tangible through design, you have a better chance of engaging important decision makers, both within and outside of the business, in support of your innovation – and to retain their support at times when the project fails to run exactly to plan.
Cost reduction and speed to market: By establishing a clear, coherent vision, co-workers will align behind your innovation, driving it forward with greater focus and energy. In addition, you are more likely to attract better quality talent when engaging new people to work on the project. This improved efficiency is highly likely to result in cost savings and increased speed to market.
Development and marketing of the brand: Innovation, by definition, means a change to the status quo. This increases the importance of developing a strong brand for consumers to engage with.The branding process sets the vision and direction for your innovation into the future. It establishes the brand promise; positions it as unique from your competitors and creates coherence both within your own product portfolio and the market at large.Importantly, the brand strategy provides the basis for the development of your advertising, social media and other temporal marketing – and a yardstick against which it should be judged.
Design means good business. Long-term qualitative and quantitative research means the jury is no longer out. We now know that businesses that engage with the process of design – both product and graphic – are not only more likely to innovate, but also to succeed.