Not long ago, Gap sparked a social-media firestorm when it quietly unveiled a redesigned logo. People not only disliked the bargain-basement aesthetic—they hated it. And, writes Umair Haque at Harvard Business Review, for good reason:  "The new logo reeks of something designed not just by committee," he says, "but by a committee of bean counters who don't have a creative bone in their body, a suite full of suits who just might be missing the empathic, intuitive right hemisphere of the brain entirely."

It's a harsh appraisal, certainly, but any business may be similarly judged if it lets the importance of good design slip off its radar. "Most companies see design as a superficial afterthought on which a few pennies are spent if there are a few bucks left in the budget," he explains. "For most boardrooms, design's never counted less, but the truth, I'd venture to guess, is that design's never counted more."

So how can you achieve a cost-effective balance between right- and left-brained priorities? Haque suggests asking questions like these:

  • How frequently does your company's leadership solicit input from its designers?
  • Are designers invited to help shape business decisions and future plans?

Finally, Haque poses this question: "How much weight does senior management give to right-brained ideas, like delight, amazement, intuition, and joy? Just a little, a lot—or, as for most companies, almost none?"

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