All too often design is considered the “last decoration station” rather than the first five minutes of branding because traditional subjective measures fail to indicate the truest value of product design, return on investment (ROI). But, hard outcomes such as increased sales, profits, market share growth and market valuation can be used to quantify it, according to Rob Wallace, managing partner of Wallace Church and Co. Research by the Design Management Institute and Wallace Church case studies have shown that strong brand identity design returns more than 50 times the direct profit generated by other marketing communication strategies. The key is a structured process aimed at proving design’s ROI that includes isolation of design’s specific impact from all other marketing communications. Results can guide housewares manufacturers on design best practices, which are often disregarded in an effort to get work done faster and cheaper, Wallace says. And, they can drive the creation of distinct home goods brand identities as opposed to “me too” market positioning strategies that don’t appeal to consumers – who increasingly want true innovation with engaging, functional design that helps them express their self identities. People define themselves with strong brands, Wallace says, and there’s data to prove that generates profit.