This year’s What Clients Think report clearly showed the standout importance of proving design’s worth. 650 clients were asked: ‘if a new agency had 30 seconds to say something to you, what would be most likely to get your attention.’ The number one answer was ‘showing the commercial effectiveness of their work’.

While the tangible results of creative work can be measured, creativity is difficult to quantify. When a company enjoys an upturn in revenue and profits, or increased market penetration, it’s always due to several factors. So how do we prove design’s part in a firm’s success?

Understanding a client’s world

The Design Business Association (DBA) has been shining a light on this issue since 1989 with its coveted Design Effectiveness Awards. The DBA’s Strategy and Business Director, Sally Lukins, has spoken of the common thread among award winners being an “alchemic mix that opens the door to both creative magic and commercial success.” The way agencies show this lies in the “the approach they take to understanding the business challenge the client is facing in order to inform the creative decisions that are made; bolstering the client’s confidence in the risks they may be asking them to take.” It’s important to put in the work to understand a client’s world and show knowledge of the context in which they need to see results.

Focused measurement of impact

It's important to build a solid case for creative ideas so that they can be sold internally to ease the path to their fruition. When running brand and design campaigns and initiatives, you need to measure success at the end of every project and agree at the outset what’s being measured. Focusing on outcomes to shoot for helps achieve buy-in from stakeholders across the business; and proves success post-launch.

Evidence of behaviour change

A company’s brand can have the power to drive cultural change and design can be commissioned to change hearts and minds. This can translate into behaviour change, which can be shown statistically. There are many ways to measure this, and they will differ on each project. For example, our Stroke Shatters campaign – for the London Boroughs of Islington and Haringey – resulted in an increase in health check-ups during the campaign period.

And when Embrace created the ‘Slap it on, wrap it up’ campaign for Epaderm, an emollient product for eczema and dry skin, we were shooting for increased sales, but we also measured how many people were picking up the leaflets in GP surgeries. The vibrant, character-led campaign achieved cut-through in a crowded market, with sales growing by 11% (double the previous rate) and the collateral created for GP surgeries achieved a pick-up rate of 75% – against the national average rate of 62%. The work won a Design Effectiveness Award.

Feedback on experience

When a project is launched, to help paint a picture of what has changed on the ground, just ask! Running a survey to find out what difference a design initiative have made to an audience’s experience returns helpful feedback and data. Quotes from customers, employees and other stakeholders can bring to life the wider outcomes beyond sales and revenue. It’s also possible to track outcomes such as heightened morale and productivity through the number of customer complaints, staff retention figures and performance figures.

Looking in the right places

At Embrace we get closer to our clients so that they can go further. For us, understanding a client’s business environment starts by looking in the right places and asking the right questions. Drawing on long experience and deep sector expertise, we work with clients to discover opportunities and create impactful ideas. When making the case for a brand initiative, we take the time to consider what success looks like for the client and project in question. We work closely with stakeholders and shoot for agreed targets, taking focused measurements at the end of every project to arrive at quantifiable success.

If you’d like to talk to us about brand and design, do get in touch.