Those of us in the industry have long been convinced that a better design, a better user-interface, will improve a company’s return on investment. However, the lack of hard data — and the variety of factors outside our control that could detract from success — often makes designers and agencies unwilling to definitively say “Yes, our services will increase your business and improve your profits.” While we can design you a great ad, if you get the wrong media buy or have an ineffective internal strategy, it won’t do you any good. Now, researchers at the Design Management Institute in Boston, along with Motiv Strategies consulting firm, have provided a way to account for that ‘grey area’ through their latest analysis of the top US publicly traded companies.

By developing a system of criteria, DMI and Motiv were able to analyze these top companies that not only placed an emphasis on design, but also had the internal and external structure to support it. Using six measurable criteria, including company culture and support by mid-level and senior management, the researchers were then able to measure the collective stock value of these design-focused companies, over a period of 10 years, as compared to the S&P 500. Surprise! These design-led US companies outperformed the S&P 500 by 228%.

Now take a guess at who might be included in this group of design-friendly companies. You guessed it : Apple, Coca-Cola, Nike, Starbucks, Procter & Gamble … just to name a few. So keep on cultivating the design culture, people. Don’t stop innovating. Your design team is definitively one of your most valuable assets.

Curious about this research? Find out more … direct from the source, or see what the team at Fast Company has to say about it.