Bottom Line: Companies that receive awards for product design see an immediate uptick in stock price.

Superior product design has been widely touted as a competitive advantage.

Apple is hailed for the sparse aesthetics and natural functionality of its products; Kimberly-Clark owes its boost in profitability to its more practical diaper design; and Lego’s financial turnaround was fueled by its rededication to making fun, easy-to-use toys.

But the discrete value of product design can be hard to quantify.

We don’t have much evidence of whether good design affects a firm’s market value, for instance — even though that would be a sure sign that shareholders reward outstanding design, as they do positive earnings reports or hot new products.To get around the subjective judgment of what defines excellent design, the authors of a new study decided to trust the experts.

A number of professional design organizations hand out prestigious awards for functionality, aesthetics, user interface, creativity, and environmental impact.

Read all: Return on Design

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