2009 was certainly a challenging year for most businesses as the global economic slowdown took hold. When times are tough and revenues are falling there is a temptation for businesses to cut ‘discretionary’ budgets – money allocated to activities such as design.
However design is a powerful tool in a downturn. During hard times investment in design can give a business a competitive edge over rivals who are reigning in their design and innovation budgets in order to save money.
According to a recent survey by the Design Council, over half (54%) of firms thought design would contribute to a large or great extent in helping maintain their competitive edge in the current economic climate. Similarly, 53% thought that design had become more important in helping them achieve its business objectives over the last three years.
There are many ways design can help your business perform more strongly, from improving your image (internally and externally), innovating your products or services, through to enhancing your overall efficiency and saving you money.
Brian Jenner, a self-employed speechwriter comments: “People use images and style to project who they are. There is a certain type of customer I want to attract and I do this by getting a designer who gives my marketing materials the right look and feel. When I didn’t spend much on my website, I got lots of timewasting enquiries. Even in a recession people will buy with their emotions, not their rational thoughts, so branding is more important than ever.”
An investment in design can be instrumental in turning the corner to renewed growth. Design can elevate a business or its products from the ordinary, the tired or the predictable – demonstrating that the business is alive, dynamic and responsive. And in a declining market, that can make the difference between growth and collapse.