How can I use design in my business?

Creating a design strategy for business


Successful businesses include design as part of their business strategy from the start. This is because involving design at an early stage can save you money in the long run. It can also result in a better experience for your customers.

If you are not sure why design should matter to your business, see more about the business benefits of design.

What is a design strategy?

There are many definitions of a design strategy. In simple terms, a design strategy is a long-term plan for how you will use design to achieve your business objectives. It converges closely with other business strategies - for example, your IT strategy, web strategy or your intellectual property priorities.

It is a good idea to articulate and formalise your design strategy early on in the business. At the very least, your strategy should:

  • define your target audience, key messages and value propositions
  • describe your business objectives, and how design relates to them
  • outline your core brand elements - eg logos, colours, typography etc
  • show the value your design will bring to products, services and customers

Having a design strategy allows you to integrate design processes and design thinking into the larger business goals.

How to use design strategically

You don't need a professional designer to use design strategically. Your first steps to using design more strategically should include:

  • locating where and how design is currently being used within your business
  • identifying ways of improving the design process - such as increasing management involvement or using a professional design consultant
  • looking for areas of your business where design opportunities are being missed
  • making sure design considerations are featured in all your business planning meetings and documents
  • conducting market research to ensure you know what your customers need

To determine how you are currently using design in your business, you might want to carry out a targeted audit - read more about the design audit.

Making even minor changes, or thinking differently about your customers' needs, can provide considerable rewards. For an in-depth look at using design for your customers, see user-centred design.