The Business of Design

The Business of Design

Using design for innovation could be adding billions of dollars to the Australia economy according to research by the Design Business Council.

"When you look at the UK research it shows every £100 a design alert business spends on design increases turnover by £225 you get an idea of what could be achieved in Australia," commented Greg Branson, CEO of the Design Business Council.

Present estimates reveal there are approximately 8,400 graphic design studios in Australia contributing $1.35bn value-add to the economy. Introducing the UK design led approach could see the value-add increase to $3bn.

The design value-add comes through integrating design into all aspects of a clients' business.

Recent research by the Design Business Council highlighted the potential for this approach in Australia. It also showed that there is a lot of work yet to be done. The research found that most design studio owners approach their business from the creative side rather than treating it as a business for strategic, innovative and creative solutions.

"Most design studio owners start their business because they are seeking more creative freedom, unfortunately they don't have the business skills to get that freedom," Branson explained.

Design studio owners pick up a smattering of business skills from accountants and business coaches but they lack access to specific creative business management training.

"In my work with Universities and TAFEs I know they don't have the funding to do anything more than develop the creative skills. There's no funds to develop management skills at undergraduate level and most designers just want to design, they don't want to do post graduate management degrees," Branson added.

Through hundreds of Design Business Council workshops with more than a thousand designers Branson has noted that even the long established larger studios need to stand back and look at their business model.

"If you are wanting to take a studio to that next level of being a strategic business partner to your clients you need to get the model right," Branson said.

The Design Business Council recognised this gap and has developed a publication that will take a studio owner from an understanding of their industry through a series of steps that will develop or modify their business model to deliver business strategies and tactics. The book uses an example of an Australian studio to show how all this can be done.

The business of design is a 196 page publication written by Greg Branson and Carol Mackay. The book clearly addresses the knowledge gap between being a great designer, and managing a great design business.

"When we started our studio, there was no literature available, so I wrote the type of business book I would have liked to read," Greg said. "From how to set a sustainable hourly rate to the implications of increasing your hourly rates, examining your business model and developing marketing strategies - it's all there."

The information is presented in an open, accessible design. Most concepts are illustrated and backed up with case study examples - perfect for right-brained individuals trying to cope in a left-brained business world.

Design Business Council