What is a design-led approach to business?

Back in 2013, the Design Council worked with the Arts & Humanities Research Council to measure the value that design brings to small businesses.


What they found is that design does so much more than just make products look nicer or work better. It improves the way a business operates.


Their research found that not only can design thinking increase the range of products a business develops, but it can also lead to more inspiring workplaces, happier staff, better service, and, as a result, greater customer satisfaction.


This approach has become known as ‘Design-led Innovation‘ and is emerging as a fundamental business process, increasingly being adopted by businesses of all sizes.


So what is design-led innovation and how can it benefit your business?


Design isn’t just about shiny objects or a new logo, as many people believe.


It’s about thinking beyond what you currently do and transforming the world around you.


Design is a hugely powerful and flexible tool that can help with everything your business needs t thrive, such as making new products that reach new customers, designing new services that solve problems for users, or improving your workplace so that you’re more productive.


The results?


The Design Council’s research shows that every £1 spent on design can produce over £20 in increased revenue and £4 in increased profit.


What are the core values of design-led innovation?


  1. Have an outside-in mindset.
  2. Use empathy for users and stakeholders.
  3. Embrace diversity.
  4. Think holistically.
  5. Collaborate in multi-disciplinary teams.
  6. Generate many new ideas.
  7. Rapit prototyping.
  8. Fail early and often.


What makes design-led innovation such a powerful tool?


It’s simple really, design is about people.


Designers solve users needs and problems by working together to understand the impact your product or service will have on the people that use it. Whatever you’re designing, people – your customers and your team – are at the heart of it.


That means your design can’t help but be user-friendly, so people can’t help but like what you do. That’s good news for users, and good news for your business!