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It’s not about design. It’s about the difference design makes.

“The best awards to win are always the hardest to win. In our game, this is the DBA Design Effectiveness Awards”, so said Thompson Brand Partners’ MD, Nick Ramshaw following their two wins at the Design Effectiveness Awards ceremony last week. 

Historically people have struggled with describing the value of design, and all creative endeavours for that matter. Perhaps they are concentrating too much on the process of creativity itself, the craft. But this is where people go wrong – it isn’t about the design. It’s about the difference design makes. And that – with the right processes in place – can be measured.

The first thing to note is that putting those processes in place isn’t about winning a DBA Design Effectiveness Award. It’s about being able to better articulate the difference design can make for the businesses you work in and for, which ultimately will elevate design up the corporate tree and win you new clients or budget.

I’ve found that there tend to be two common reasons cited for shying away from measuring the impact of design. These are:

1. A fear of failure. ‘If we ask a client to measure the effectiveness of our work, could we set ourselves up for a fall?’

2. The project-based nature of design agencies, making long term engagement in the success of a project difficult.

Agencies need to understand however, that they will be judged by their clients regardless. The client may not have any effectiveness metrics in place, but they will know what success looks like to them and they will know if they have achieved it. The key from an agency perspective is to interrogate those success criteria, discuss them with the client, and (most importantly) discuss what metrics can be put in place to understand when those success criteria have been reached.

Design is all about collaboration. Great work rarely happens when either the client, or the agency, are not giving their all as a team. Agencies can develop deeper bonds with their clients by putting their work on the line and saying ‘measure the difference we can make’.

Once these deeper relationships are working, they last longer. Both agency and client are invested in the project being a success and the relationship tends to last longer than the sign-off period. If the agency understands from the beginning what the client is measuring, then it is easy for them to maintain contact with the client in the following months and that’s a useful new business technique too.

To find out more about capturing data on design effectiveness, have a read of this earlier blog piece.

And here’s a handy guide on making complex data accessible.

Once you can tangibly see the impact of your work, putting your business in the frame for a Design Effectiveness Award will be the icing on the cake. Judged by business leaders, a win will provide irrefutable and authoritative proof of the results you deliver.

It’s always worth taking a look at the award winning case studies to see how others articulated the difference design made to their projects.

And don’t forget that DBA members get all manner of support in developing their entries, so do get in touch if you want to know more. It’s never too early to start thinking about what projects could be contenders.

The deadline for entries this year will be 25 October 2019. Register your interest today.

Image credit:

Sweet Ice Cream Photography | Unsplash

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