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The Importance of Graphic Design

I hope I’m not making a faux-pas by making this a personal request, but hopefully it might raise some good comments as well. I’m currently working for a non-profit organization that is making grant applications in order to get us some more funding for the project. They’ve asked for some references about the importance of graphic design in getting an organization’s message across. Now to be honest, I can think of plenty of arguments that I could make, but does anyone have any ‘official/academic’ references I could point them to. I’m sure some of the more experienced designers have run into this problem of justifying our profession to the client, and though its not the client I’m trying to convince, I was hoping you might have something handy.

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PUBLISHED ON Oct.26.2002 BY Kevin
Armin’s comment is:

>I hope I'm not making a faux-pas by making this a personal request.

Not at all.

>does anyone have any 'official/academic' references.

I don't think there is such a thing. I have been trying to gather the same kind of information. A great source I was able to find, that provides some actual facts and numbers, is the British Design Council, although it is British it has some interesting research and facts.

I wish the AIGA or the Artist's Guild conducted some sort of research that could prove the effectiveness (or lack thereof) of Graphic Design. Instead of devoting most of their web site to profiling hot-shot designers.

A line I've used and sometimes gets their attention goes something like this: "In a crowded marketplace, with dozens of companies selling the same service or product, the only differentiation and separation method is through your branding and image, and that is achieved with Graphic Design". If that doesn't work take 20% off your estimated price and keep doing that until they see the "Importance of Design". That sounded very pessimistic, didn't it?

On Oct.28.2002 at 09:56 AM
Armin’s comment is:

I'm really interested to see if somebody has any more resources on this topic.

On Oct.28.2002 at 09:57 AM
Tom’s comment is:

A really good question. Armin is right, the graphic arts organizations would be of good service to provide this type of general bottom line information. The Potlatch "@issue" publication provides good graphic design/business case studies.

When I say bottomline� there is a point that business people can see the importance of graphic design. That is the point at which sales/reponses go up! Things like since Charles S. Anderson started conveying the message of The French Paper Company, that "company has tripled in size." - Jerry French

I just redesigned a catalog companies total image. The new catalog hit the mail in August. Their profits for September were more than all of last year. I don't have to explain the importance of design to my client now. I did have to "show" them how to convey their message better.

As a graphic design issue in general, a better question is -

How important is the message?

I think if most graphic designers/publications focused on that rather than themselves and their trademarked processes and styles, then we might not have to justify ourselves as much. Graphic design is important to convey the message accurately, appropriately and well.

On Oct.28.2002 at 11:18 AM
Todd’s comment is:

I seem to recall that Forrester Research issued a report in 2001 entitled "ROI from Creative Design" or something similar. It was aimed primarily at Web work, but the general conclusions are probably widely applicable. Ordinarily the report is only available for paying subscribers of Forrester's research, but through the power of Google, I was able to find it posted somewhere on the Web. (Get ROI from Design) It's good knowing that at least someone has taken a stab at attaching a monetary value to good design from a business standpoint.

On Oct.29.2002 at 10:33 AM
mpb’s comment is:

as designer, it is your responsibility to make the case. can you not sit with your client and develop language specific to the problem? this is an opportunity for you to reinforce the importance of your role in the project, and in future projects.

On Oct.29.2002 at 04:05 PM
Kevin’s comment is:

yes... that's exactly what I did. The problem lies in the fact that it's not the client I'm trying to convince but possible funders. I've written a document for them, and though I think its quite convincing I'm afraid that it doesn't quite hold the necessary authority, especially because its coming from a very biased source(if they get the grant, we get paid). Thanks Todd for the other links though. I just find it frustrating that in our image saturated culture, that we still have to explain the importance of graphic design to people. People don't question the role of architects, do they?

On Oct.29.2002 at 04:26 PM