Objectives and results

The Design ROI project aims to increase understanding on the effectiveness of design by communicating it with the appropriate terminology to business leaders and thus supporting successful utilization of design in companies. The measurement of the design investments effectiveness is based on the typical model of ROI, return on investment model. In addition, the long-term objective of the project is to create a permanent change in the rhetoric of design and to improve the prerequisites of the sector to operate in. One of the outcomes of the project will be a tool that design agencies and their customers can use to communicate the financial benefits of design to target groups and in companies internally, in both qualitative and numerical terms.

The research project was initiated in autumn 2011 by the Finnish Design Business Association (FDBA). The project originated from the design agencies’ need to identify concrete tools to measure and communicate the benefits and possibilities of using external design services for the design agencies current and potential customers.

The first phase of the Design ROI project was concluded in the fall of 2012 and the main findings and results were published in October 2012 in the Design ROI Measurable Design report. The project achieved many direct and indirect results and benefits. The direct benefits of the project include extensive discussions with various operators in the design field, both at workshops and in online forums built for the project. These discussions brought up many shared visions as to how the industry should be developed. Some of the most concrete results of the project are the review of the current state of the design industry in Finland, overview of the most important academic publications related to profitability of design, and based on these and other material gathered during the project, the first version of the Design ROI tool that was used to model the measurement of design benefits in practice, as well as the data needed for the measurement and the factors affecting the measurement.

The indirect results include several speeches and presentations prepared and given by the research team during the project. Their aim was to increase awareness and familiarize listeners with the Design ROI topic. For the Nordic design management seminar Nordcode, the research team prepared the Framing the Question paper and presentation, intended for an academic audience. Additionally Design ROI was present at events of the Association for Finnish Work, and at the Road Show by Design Forum Finland in Helsinki.

The project raised a lot of positive feedback and inquiries both in Finland and internationally, and the continuation of the project is being planned at the moment. The next phase of the project will be executed in close co-operation with Finnish companies.