In a previous post, we discussed how good design sells. However, we need to dive a bit deeper and discuss how to ensure good design sells.

Design, much like anything other than grain, doesn’t do well in a silo. Design needs to be challenged and tested in order to be effective—but it also needs purpose. One of my favorite phrases is this: “Art is design absent of strategy” or “Design is art with a purpose”. Either way, you get my point. Design needs the seeds of conflict and struggle in order to sprout and succeed.

At Studio 22, we feel strongly about solving problems with design. In fact, that is our mantra: “Great design starts with smart strategy.” I can thank my most influential mentor and late Creative Director, James Welborn, for drubbing that into me. James had the deep agency experience working with clients like Microsoft, GM, Budweiser, HP, Proctor & Gamble, GE, Virgin and NBC. These brands always leaned heavily on research and strategy as their catalyst for creative. The agencies knew this and pitched this approach.

Here in Silicon Valley, the startup mentality is to move quickly and adjust as you go. Business decisions are made in a snap and sometimes turn a company 90 degrees (or more). As you can imagine, these decisions affect everything downstream, from sales and marketing, to website information flow, user experience, product design, and more.

Because of our strong belief in coupling design and strategy, it’s almost always a good idea to bring in your design team (internal or external) early on in your business discussions. Even if a final direction isn’t flushed out, there is a great deal of benefit and insight design teams can garner from being part of the conversation.

We’ve been on both sides of this. One startup client of ours almost never included us in these discussions and interfaced only with a single marketing contact. It created a situation where it was very difficult for our team to have success. We were missing the nuance and details of their internal discussions and were being directed to perform with very little context.

More often than not, we are part of a broader conversation with our clients and interface with Founders, CEOs, COOs, and marketing. This provides the ideal scenario to have real-time discussions about addressing business challenges and provides opportunity for the entire team to start from the same place. This is how we ensure successful outcomes for our clients.

After all, isn’t design about solving problems?