It amazes me how one single word can hold so much meaning, based on whom you ask. Take the word “design” for example. What does it mean to you? The definition can change rather drastically based on whom you are speaking to.

In Philadelphia, it was an afternoon of excitement, energy and a shared passion for all things “design.” Local creative leaders gathered together to learn and share their insights with one another about the process of design-thinking.

A key topic that drove some very spirited discussion was the actual definition of the word design. We all seemed to agree that one way to think about the definition is to understand that design can be defined as applied creativity. It is a combination of aesthetics, business, technology and culture; and finding the right balance between those four attributes results in great design.

But what else contributes to great design? How does design drive strategy and generate actual ROI? You need to be able to determine what would happen with the investment and what would happen without the investment. The difference between the two is what happened because of the investment. I think that the Design Council UK may have said it best “Good design is a quantifiable benefit, not a cost. Its value can be measured economically, socially, and environmentally.”

As an industry of creative leaders and designers, who need to prove ROI on a daily basis, it is our job to ask the difficult questions; such as, is it authentic? Is it credible? Does it have emotional impact? We need to educate our clients about the true meaning of design. We need to help them understand that design is a process that requires both business savvy and a keen eye for detail and aesthetics.

Remember, the success of design and strategy is not just about what is important, but the reason behind it, the question of “why?” is just as important.

Manager of Creative Operations at Saint-Gobain
Philadelphia xCHANGE – Keynote Speaker