Another prominent design advocate and business leader – Thomas Watson Jr., IBM’s long-time CEO – had the motto:

“Good design corresponds to good business”.

It should be noted, however, that the era of Thomas Watson Jr. at Big Blue lasted from 1952 to 1971 – a time when IBM was still the undisputed world market leader for “International Business Machines”. And this also included typewriters at that time – long before the mass sale of unadorned grey boxes, which were offered as “personal computers” and whose ugliness and at the beginning also very complicated operation is again today regarded as an important component of Apple’s success.

Steve Jobs’ understanding of design went far beyond purely optical product design – for him, outstanding usability was also part of product design – and Apple’s success seems to confirm it. But it is not only in the IT sector that there are examples of design as a success factor worth mentioning. The Porsche 911 or the Wassily Chair also stand for it, the list of such design icons could be continued endlessly. And it has long been clear that good design creates real value. However, this insight has been difficult to quantify up to now.

Solid performance figures

In the meantime, however, there are tangible performance figures for this. For example, the Design Management Institute (DMI) presented the Design Value Index. He compares listed companies with a strong focus on design with companies for which this topic does not play such a major role. The 15 stock corporations listed in the report, with a strong focus on the design of their products, observed stock market developments over a period of ten years.

The result: over the ten-year period, these companies generated returns that were 2.11 times (211 percent) the performance of the S&P 500 index. The strategic use of design is therefore not a nice-to-have trend, but a decisive factor for entrepreneurial success. Many innovative manufacturers all over the world have long recognised this: For them, attractive design is part of customer relationship management and serves to build competitive advantages.


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