The Growing Importance of Design, Big and Small

The Growing Importance of Design, Big and Small

My neighbors think I’m adorable. Yes, this is probably a strange way to start off this article about design, but it’s the best way – and the truth.

So – my neighbors think I’m adorable. When they ask me my profession, I tell them some version of “I’m a designer.” 

“Ohhh. That’s so cool.” is the typical response I get. It’s usually followed by “You must have a lot of fun at your job.”

They might be more used to the professions that my other neighbors have. Engineers. Accountants. Real Estate Professionals. Managers.

I should really up my game and declare myself a “strategic brand consultant” or something similar, but I’m actually quite proud to be a designer.

The fact is, design is can be fun, and it can be beautiful. But those outcomes aren’t exactly business-focused. Fun and beauty are both wonderful things, but it’s difficult for some people to think about design as truly valuable – valuable enough that someone can build a career out of it.

Parents around the world warn their children not to go to art school. That they should focus on an education that gets them a “real job.”

It might be because creativity without context is seen as valueless. People can’t always imagine the context in which design would be an important profession.

Harsh. So harsh. But roll with me.

He’s going talk about Paul Rand again.

Thirty years ago, when Paul Rand (one of my design business heroes and creator of logos and brand identities for companies like UPS, ABC, Westinghouse, and NEXT) was asked in an interview, “The average person sees design as a fussy little concern with moving words around and pictures around, so – what good does it do us?” 

Paul Rand answered:

“After thinking about the subject for many years, I don’t think we’re as unimportant as we think we are. First of all, things that look good are important for our environment. It’s better for things to look good than to look bad. Of course the problem there is that it depends on whose opinion you’re seeking.

But I think the value of a designer to a business person is that they can add a great deal of value to a product, and I don’t think that business people really understand this.

But a good designer that understands their business can make things memorable, make them easy to recall, and improve the general quality of life – which is the only reason for our existence.”

Mr. Rand touches on a pretty important point – one that isn’t always thought about when you hear the word design. Design is the way to make products and services more valuable, and stand apart from competitors.

The Rise of Design in Business Culture 

I would argue that never in the history of the world has business culture and design been as popular as it is now. Children idolize the CEOs of companies. The world shakes with judgment when a major brand redesigns its logo. Entire businesses launch on Instagram. 

No one has to argue that design and branding are ways for businesses to climb ahead rapidly. It has become fact.

Design problems have grown to range from beautiful images to higher conversion rates on websites. From expressive lettering to better usability. And from a single ad, to a meaningful (and automated) experience with customers.

The value of design and creativity in business has not just been established, it’s growing – and it’s getting more important every year.

You can thank the internet for allowing us to experience more of the world, even the business world, through the designs on the little screens we constantly swipe through.

Building, shaping, and imagining how brands come to life on those screens is the challenge we take on with each project.

Design is a small word, but it’s as big as you can imagine it to be. To businesses, it can be a critical competitive advantage – and to neighbors, it can just be adorable. Either way –  to answer the question –  yes, I do have fun at my job.


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Mike Spakowski

Mike Spakowski

Mike Spakowski is Principal / Creative Director of Atomicdust and is involved with the day-to-day design strategy, art direction and studio management.

More posts by Mike Spakowski