The Business Value of Design

The business value of design

At Paraffin, we use aspects of design on every project. Our in-house graphic design department creates all our content including infographics, toolkits and project branding. We use design thinking methodology and techniques to create people-centred projects such as our behaviour change and capabilities projects. We are always seeking new knowledge that can develop our competences even further.

“While design was once largely thought of as a way of making products more attractive, it is now a way of thinking: a creative process driven by the desire to better understand and meet consumer needs” says McKinsey in their report The Business Value of Design.

The report was launched in October 2018 and is based on studies of companies over a 5-year period in multiple countries and industries. They collected more than 2,000,000 pieces of financial data points and recorded more than 100,000 discrete design actions. McKinsey concludes that firms embracing design generate 32% more revenue and 56% more shareholder returns than their industry counterparts did over a five-year period.

There is an enormous potential for design-driven growth but also a lot to catch up on. McKinsey reports that 40% of the companies they surveyed still are not talking to their end users during the development process and that 50% admit that they have no objective way to set targets for the output of their design teams. Funds are often cut because there is no clear link between business health and design, but to get a piece of the potential growth business leaders to have to commit to design. McKinsey have clustered 4 design areas for businesses to action that showed the most improved financial performance.

This June we attended the first of 4 design seminar based on the areas covered in the report hosted by McKinsey, D2i and Danish Design Centre

  1. More than a Feeling: It’s analytical leadership
    Measure and drive design performance with the same rigour as revenue and cost
    • Create a bold, user-centric strategy
    • Embed design in the C-suite
    • Employ design metrics
  1. More than a Product: It’s user experience
    Break down internal walls between physical, digital and service design
  • Start with the user, not the spec
  • Design a seamless physical, service and digital user experience
  • Integrate with third-party products and services
  1. More than a department: It’s cross-functional talent
    Make user-centric design everyone’s responsibility, not a siloed function
    • Nurture top design talent
    • Convene cross-functional teams
    • Invest in design tools and infrastructure
  1. More than a phase: It’s continuous iteration
    De-risk development by continuously listening, testing and iterating with end-users
  • Balance qualitative & quantitative user research
  • Integrate user, business, competitor and technological research
  • Test, refine, repeat. Fast!


To read the full report please see here: