It can be part of a designer’s job to talk about the benefits, and on that note here’s a report that might help with your client/designer dealings.

Design ROI

It’s the result a Finnish study carried out between September 2011 and September 2012 by a research team from Aalto University. The aim was to develop a model and a set of metrics for measuring design’s return on investment.

I looked at it from a brand identity viewpoint, and on a basic level, qualitative metrics such as user satisfaction, desirability, and aesthetics were appropriate and could be measured with customer surveys. Then there were quantitative metrics like the number of new customers, mentions and “fans” in social media, and the number of website visits or registrations.

If a client is to get a full report you’ll need to track those metrics before and after (there are companies who specialise in conducting surveys). The more time spent on the “before” section, the easier it’ll be to measure the impact of “after.” Granted, not all clients will have the time or the budget to do this properly, but it’s worth talking about during an initial designer/client chat.

Design ROIDesign ROI framework (from the report).

There’s a lot to take in (143 pages), and it won’t give all the answers, but as mentioned on the Moving Brands blog, it’s an interesting first step in trying to make sense of the concept.

View the full report here.


October 29, 2013


An interesting topic for a study. Being high-end sign-makers, we often hear of marked sales increases after one of our signs is installed at a business. It’s a hard thing to measure, though, as each case is different, depending on location, market sector, etc.

Interesting read, David. As Don points out, there are lots of things to consider, so it’s often difficult to convince people that a good brand identity isn’t just a luxury.

Similarly, it’s often hard to convince people that it might be awful customer service or something else that’s killing a brand, not what the logo looks like.

Hi David, just noticed your response. We haven’t actually tacked results, but we have plenty of anecdotal evidence. Three examples below:

Having that sign has built up our business. Absolutely!
(a local hair salon)

A big thankyou for such a ‘beaut’ sign – it has increased our business and particularly our drive-by customers. We are based on a busy tourist route and our old sign did not represent the quality of our business. (a historic pub)

We recently reworked our drive and placed a hand-carved sign at our entrance. There was an immediate increase in the number of people stopping in to sample our wines.
(a local winery)

Thankfully, Richard, the people I work with know it’s more than a luxury, but it took me quite a bit of time to get to that stage.

Always great to hear feedback like that, Don. Good on you.

David, do you think getting to that stage had more to do with your reputation and quality, or was it that you got better at communicating your work’s value with the client?

There has to be a tangible business benefit, but it can be tricky to measure. It is frustrating when the client asks, “What’s it going to cost me?” If the client views design as a cost, alarms bell are ringing. Surely, the real question is, “What’s it worth?”

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