As a marketing-focused company, we're used to coaching clients to focus on results. What is measurable? What measurements are most helpful to you? Optimize for those metrics, and you'll succeed.
But what about the difficult-to-measure stuff? If we dedicate ourselves fully to utility, function without form, we risk building unappealing products. We risk harming the customer experience, even if we meet our end goals.
Quantifying the impact of creative work has never been easy. There are some tools available to us, but all require observation and testing.
For example, we have the ability to split test advertising copy and imagery, running two campaigns and comparing performance to identify winners. We can slowly iterate visual changes on a website, observing as performance improves or decreases.
What about the overall brand experience? Without access to the resources needed to run focus groups, it can be hard to value a new logo, app layout, or other design elements. We know, however, that these things matter.
Take Apple. Their products deeply value brand experience. There is clear and careful consideration of every element, from packaging to documentation and support. Everything is branded. Everything values form at least equally with function. Apple, it should be noted, is the most profitable company in the world.
Apple's focus on design excellence shines through in everything they do. It's a philosophy permeating their business, not a superficial add-on or secondary objective.
It is easy to forget that touch screens and app stores, and iMessage weren't foregone conclusions. Apple chose to pursue innovative and risky ideas and dedicate its enormous resources to polishing and refining those ideas until they became the gold standard in their industry.
We shouldn't take for granted how big a gambit this was. It was at a time where Apple's computer market share continued to lag and where the next steps for the rapidly growing mobile market hadn't yet become apparent. Other companies had the resources to do what Apple did and chose not to.
Had Apple relied solely on market research and industry data, the safe and statistically backed approach, they may not even exist today. Vision and boldness are challenging to quantify in a spreadsheet, yet these values define the world's most profitable company.
This is the ROI of creativity on display. It's an investment without guarantee but with great promise. For Apple, creative investment was the difference between bankruptcy and uncontested smartphone supremacy.
What could it be for you?