The Definitive Guide to B2B Design

Operationalizing design is hard. Here's how to make it happen.

The Definitive Guide to B2B Design

The Definitive Guide to B2B Design


Operationalizing design is hard. Here's how to make it happen.

The Definitive Guide to B2B Design

Over the course of the past 5 years, we at SketchDeck have worked with hundreds of marketing and B2B design teams, including: Remy Cointreau, Okta, SAP and Instacart, helping organizations scale by overcoming business-to-business marketing design challenges and transition to more design-centric cultures.

We’re thrilled to share our learnings, frameworks, strategies and research in this free, 22 page eBook, which provides unique insights into the challenges, approaches and opportunities across the B2B design landscape.

The blueprint for B2B design includes:

  • What’s driving the demand for B2B design
  • The B2B design pyramid - a new framework to visualize design needs
  • The three challenges companies face executing on everyday design
  • The six -part strategy to effectively scale B2B design within your organization

Here's a preview of what you'll get:

Design-led companies had 32% more revenue and 56% higher total returns.

According to a 2018 McKinsey study that analyzed two million pieces of financial data and 100,000 design actions over the course of 5 years, design led companies had 32% more revenue and 56% higher total returns compared to companies who put less focus on design. This holds true across industries and company sizes. Design is no longer a nice to have—it is a proven value driver for business growth.

Despite this proven impact, companies often struggle to implement strong design. Rapid marketing and product iterations, growing global competition, instant access to information, and reviews and comparisons are key factors and considerations.

To stay relevant and succeed in today’s market, companies need stronger design. In this document we explore how to build a design-centric organization.

The brave new world of B2B design

Compared to B2C organizations, there is little hard data or research in terms of how much B2B organizations spend on design. There are several reasons for this lack of data.

Firstly, design teams have mainly existed as part of particular departments or functions—making it difficult to extract exact cost figures.

Getting reliable data is further complicated by the fact that unlike industries such as finance and real estate—who possess long held objective metrics and industry leaders that fund large scale studies and reports—the design sector is fractured. Objective metrics have yet to be widely available and far from standardized. Despite this lack of data, we do have some high-level indicators that reveal broader trends in the B2B design market.

For example, according to federal data, the United States has seen 30% revenue growth in graphic design services over last 4 years, with figures rising from $7.4B in 2013 to $9.6B in 2017.

We see a similar trend for in-house design hires in 25 top performing companies in a cross-sector of industries. Over the last 12 months alone, the figures indicate an average of 13% growth in design department headcount.

The B2B design pyramid

To better understand the key pieces of today’s design landscape—and the shortcomings of the current approach to business to business design—we can visualize a company’s design needs as a pyramid.

In this model, the height of the pyramid represents the strategic importance of each design project, while the width of the pyramid represents the volume of projects.

design pyramid

Historically, organizations have focused time and budget on the top two layers of the Design Pyramid. However, nimble, design-centric, fast growing companies such as Dropbox, Slack, Atlassian and Gusto have raised the bar for design, causing more established players to make huge investments and improvements on the top of their design pyramid and the results are apparent everywhere.
Tech and software companies can invest as much as 31% of their overall revenue into marketing!

More than 2/3 of Fortune 500 companies have undergone a major rebrand or visual overhaul in the last 10 years.

Some of the more prominent and high-profile examples include the Accenture brand, which reportedly cost $100 million or Pepsi‘s $1.2B rebrand in 2008. These figures show that:

a) companies are prepared to invest in their brand; and

b) a brand can be hugely expensive,especially for large enterprises.

Nevertheless, while companies are investing in design, they continue to fall short at the bottom of the Design Pyramid. This shortfall isn’t due to a lack of strong design vision and guidance from designers or agencies, but rather the struggle for non-designers (i.e. marketing and sales teams) to execute on this vision.

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