Newsletter #505 – Why Care About Design?

As far as I can tell, this newsletter/blog is read by mental health professionals, coaches, ministry leaders, and maybe business men or women among others. Probably there are few (if any) musicians, other artists or designers. But perhaps we all need to look seriously at design. Fast Company, the business magazine, first alerted me to the relevance of good design and it has influenced me ever since, including its October 2012 issue on “Innovation by Design.” “Good design is good business,” according to former IBM CEO Thomas Watson.  “From Apple to Nike to Starbucks, America’s corporate landscape is now dominated by companies whose innovations—and successes—are built upon effective and elegant designs.” A program in Brazil even uses design to fight poverty. Are you willing to be convinced that private practices, educational institutions, small businesses, churches, and your work also might be more effective, innovative or successful, if you took design more seriously?

Twenty years ago I founded a magazine on Christian counseling. My initial focus was on the content and writing quality, but our designer quickly taught me how readers are grabbed and impacted by the covers, content layout, graphics, paper quality and images. (Did the image above catch your attention?) Poorly designed covers and sloppy graphics communicate negatively about the quality of the product, the editors and the publisher. Of course superior design can be expensive but there are things we can do inexpensively, sometimes with volunteer help.

  • Upgrade your blog. I use WordPress which is free. I picked the simplest, least cluttered designs because I believe simpler is better. I pay a small fee to keep this weekly letter free of advertisements.
  • Look at your website.  Mine are OK ( and but need improving and updates. Amateurish web design does not reflect positively on you or your organization.
  • Sharpen your presentations. Dump the old-fashioned, sleep-inducing bullet point slides. Use fewer words and more carefully chosen images. Learn by watching how others communicate. I am amazed at how many professionals speak from badly designed visual materials that distract from the presentation.
  • If you have an office, look around. What is your space communicating? Messy? Disorganized? Uncaring? Better design counts in business and maybe in therapy.

Do you agree? Any examples? Please comment.


  1. Hi Gary, thanks for this article, it ‘speaks from my heart’ and is what I as a graphic designer am preaching all day long to my clients. Good Design builts trust. We all have no other means for a first impression that what we get visually from a person or company. And we assume if someone looks good (and, almost even more important looks and behaves CONSISTENT all the time) we get what we all crave most: predictability of good treatment. I could give a seminar here, but that would take it a bit to far. Take care, and God bless.


  2. Hi Gary, as a graphic designer and small business coach, I couldn’t agree more. Good design creates credibility. In a logo, it’s a visual representation of your business, product or service. A quality logo is strategy-driven and smart. It’s an icon the speaks directly to your target market cutting your branding message to the quick.


    1. Thanks Victoria. The more I think and read about design, the more I see its importance. Are you surprised that this post got almost no responses? I am not. It took a while for me to catch on to this but it really interests me how the importance of design is being recognized far beyond professional designers like you and into corporations and even some forward looking businesses, educational institutions and churches.


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