New business development

New business dev: it’s staring us in the face

The old adage ‘80% of your business can come from 20% of your clients” has been proven true with unique new research by the Design Business Council.

We set out to test this adage 18 months ago when we developed the DBC design maturity model. Over that time we spent $80,000 refining, interviewing, researching and writing the results of our research.

What we discovered is that most designers are working with the marketing and sales area in a clients’ business. But this is only one of the ten activities that we identified as using design in a business.

We researched these activities, talked to clients about them and then conducted research to show how much design, and what type of design, is being used across all the activities in a business.

We defined that the degree to which all these ten activities use design is a measure of their design maturity.

We’ve discovered there are many design mature business, but even the best have a large scope for new business. In fact the case study we developed shows that $300,000 of new business is left ‘on the table’ by designers working with a mid-size manufacturer.

We have published our research in the Design Maturity Report.

The Design Maturity Report

Ten Australian design leaders were invited to participate in the research alongside one of their key clients. The design agencies and their clients are:

  • Aer Design – Mobile Musters
  • BWD Strategic – Manassen Foods
  • Celcius Design – Entura
  • Designate – IRESS
  • Matiu Bush- Bolton Clarke
  • Raine & Makin – Reach
  • Studio Zileej – Zileej,
  • Studio Alto – YUME
  • Tank – DMI Mentel Group
  • Truly Deeply – VicSuper

The Design Maturity research was conducted in face-to-face meetings; firstly with the design agency owners, and then with clients. Often further research within the organisation was needed to complete the information.

The findings, published as The Design Maturity Report, give a unique insight into the way design is being used within Australian businesses.

What they said


“This has given us a roadmap to introduce design thinking and human centred design to our 6,000 employees.”

“This research is spot on. It validates what we are doing. Keep it up.”

“This approach aligns extremely well with the way our business is run. Great to see the opportunities for design.”

“As a start-up we have taken a design centric approach so it was good to get validation and see where else we can add design.”

What the designers said:

“A truly fascinating piece of work. Breaking the impacts of design into various functions of the selected businesses – e.g logistics – as opposed to taking a macro view on whether a company does or doesn’t design well, was very creative and insightful. As are the recommendations you provide for how to better incorporate design into each of those business functions.”

“Please don’t release this to our peers. We want the chance to implement it with all our clients before our peers get to it :).”

Want to know more?

The Design Maturity Report is a major study into the use of design in Australian businesses.

The Report will be made available to attendees of the How to get more work from existing clients UNseminar.

Register here.

Got a question?

Want to share your point of view? Please feel free to email me.


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Greg Branson


Contact Greg Branson if you would like to learn more about the many programs the DBC offers.

Greg’s passion is the research and development of methods that improve design management and the role of design in business.

Greg has developed The Design Business School to help owners manage their business better along with showing designers how to get more involved in the studio and develop their career path. Contact Greg.

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