Why good design alone isn’t enough to win

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When we think about what it means to win, most of us will imagine going head-to-head with another person or team and coming out on top.

This is probably because our steadfast “winner versus loser” mindset is a direct consequence of our experiences on or watching the sports field – it’s been ingrained in our psyche from the moment we first kicked a ball, picked up a racket or started supporting our favourite team. And sometimes it’s not even a game of skill – think about all the lucky Lotto winners out there! In this sense, winning is a materialistic concept built on the idea of securing higher status or privilege over another. Even one of the world’s top sporting idols, Tiger Woods, once said (a few times)“winning takes care of everything”. What’s more, the Oxford Dictionary defines “win” as “successful or victorious in (a contest of conflict)”.

What is winning really about?

So, here’s the massive curveball [cue drumroll] – winning isn’t just about wiping the floor with an opponent. According to the dictionary of life experiences, winning is also about achievement and success which is sometimes devoid of competition and completely independent of the performance or luck of others. There’s no better scenario than the workplace to explain what winning can look like. Winning could be stealing the day with an awe-inspiring presentation, closing a sale, winning a pitch for investment or new business, raising brand awareness or successfully influencing colleagues or stakeholders to take a course of action. Each one of these “wins” could propel your career or business further along the path towards success – and the best part, absolutely anyone can take control and be a winner. Exceptional visual design is an essential part of what it takes to put on a winning performance in any given scenario – whether it’s putting together an engaging presentation, persuasive pitch, crafting an explainer video for your products or generating an influential annual report. But design is just one of a series of complementary elements that all work together to make someone a real winner when the spotlight turns on them.

Resilience gets results

Winners are also incredibly resilient people in the face of adversity or unforeseen circumstances. For example, you might have a presentation or pitch deck prepared and ready to go, but that doesn’t mean everything that happens next in front of your audience will be as predictable as hoped. Winning – in the sense of achievement or success – is about bouncing back when things go wrong and knowing exactly how to respond to those curveball questions and negative comments. You don’t always get things right first time either. This is why a crucial part of what makes a winner a winner is how quickly they learn from failures, move on, and try again. And if you need some inspiration, inventor, Thomas Edison, is said to have made over ten thousand prototypes of the lightbulb before he landed on the right one. Now that’s resilience we can all be thankful for!

A bright spark (emotionally speaking)

It takes a great deal of empathy and emotional intelligence to get results – especially when those successes nearly always rest on securing “buy in” from people around you (customers or colleagues). Empathy gives you the ability to understand other people’s perspectives, which means you’ll be equipped to perceive concerns and persuasively address them, play to people’s emotions, and appeal to their interests. Without empathy, you’re pretty much flying blind!

Finding comfort in your own skin

There’s a difference between learning from others and mimicking the actions and personalities of others. Your own individuality is what leads to life’s successes and achievements because by embracing our individuality, we unearth those unique qualities and individual strengths that can deliver something new and valuable to the workplace (or world). So, make the most of it. Authenticity will be good design’s best friend when it’s time to bring it to life in front of any audience.

Keeping up a winner’s stamina

To win, you’ve got to want to win and it’s this drive and determination to achieve objectives that encourages people to perform to peak potential without ever dropping the ball. It’s important to remember that a reliable and trustworthy reputation among key promoters will only be built through a consistent output. Think about it this way, well-designed presentation decks or explainer videos aren’t likely to achieve long-term goals if they occasionally lack substance or don’t match the performance of the human beside them.

Have a vision for success

This one might sound obvious, but to win, you need to have a firm idea of what it is you want to achieve – so you can aim for it. Call it a goal if you like, but a vision for the end result will help you stay focussed and shape your strategy for success. And there’s no chicken or egg conundrum here; a robust strategic vision always comes before great design. So, how do you stack up? Are you one of life’s winners?

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(H2) Learn the essentials for a good infographic!
  • What to say – storytelling to connect to your audience
  • How to back it up – what data and evidence will support your message
  • And how to say it – what design elements will drive engagement


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