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The ROI of Design isn’t measured in just dollars.

By Patrick Sesko

Whether you’re a solopreneur or corporate marketing executive, you probably know that strategic design is good for business and can have significant impact on your bottom line. So if you’re spending thousands on a new brand identity or website, of course you want to make sure it’s a wise investment.

But if you’re looking for a dollar-based ROI when it comes to design, I have some bad news for you: It’s probably not going to happen.


It’s very difficult to know how much money you made specifically as a result of design—which is why you cannot track design ROI in dollars. You have to track design ROI in the currency of emotion.

Let’s take a step back and examine an example where ROI is definitive.

Frank is selling a physical product. He invests $1000 in Facebook ads. Through tracking, he determines that he sold $10,000 worth of his product as a result of his ads. The ROI on his ad spend is tenfold. This is cold hard data.

With design, it’s a completely different story because a straight-up mathematical equation can’t calculate the wide-reaching return on design.

The ROI from design is in Emotional Currency.

People buy because of emotion. If they have an emotional connection with you, your product, your brand, or your story, their choice will be easy and they will buy with confidence. These connections are made through everything that your business is comprised of: products/services, values, people, and interactions. This is the essence of your brand—and it’s all represented by visual design.

Yes, more emotional connections equals more dollars. But the route isn’t always direct. And unlike Frank’s Facebook ads, there are so many more variables. Here’s what I mean…

Think of design like going to the gym.

We all know that going to the gym is good for you—just like good design is good for your business. As you are getting yourself in tip-top shape, the gym is undoubtedly creating external changes and internal ones as well. Perhaps you have lost inches and gained energy and confidence—but how can you put a dollar value on that?

The answer begins with how you feel.

How does your new-found gym body (internally and externally) affect your life in the outside world? What’s the ROI? More confidence? More conversations started? A higher willingness to try new things? Less anxiety? Feeling more like yourself?

You get the idea. Just like going to the gym, the ROI of design can be difficult to measure. The truth is—a new design identity that reflects your business creates an emotional snowball effect on everything. It affects customers, and it affects you!

Good design will give your customers confidence in your brand.

But it will also give you confidence, which might result in you marketing more effectively.

Here’s the catch: For design to work, you have to back it up.

Good design should highlight and support your values and level of service. It should be the beautiful exterior on a smooth-running machine. For example, if your restaurant has an amazing visual brand, but you serve undercooked, bland food, or treat your customers unkindly, people might come in, but they won’t come back. Design is the look and feel for your business—but the rest of your work must align with its quality it in order to create Emotional Currency. This is the currency people will use to invest in your brand.

Don’t worry! With a strategic designer, your design will be based on your authentic business—so this alignment will come naturally.

Want to ensure your investment in design will be worth it?

Be sure to choose a designer with a strategic approach—one who will spend time discovering your business and its values…because when the design reflects your business and comes from a place of strategy, your customers will buy from you with ease because they’re already invested Emotional Currency—and that lasts a lot longer than a quick-sell from a Facebook ad.






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