Design is the first message companies send to the outside world. But why do so many company's overlook its importance? I recently had the chance to sit down with the CEO of 99designs, Patrick Llewellyn, to gain his perspective on the importance of design.

What is the biggest design mistake you see companies make?

Patrick Llewellyn: Companies tend to be too generic with design. They don't think how to stand out amongst the crowd, but rather think about how to blend in with the crowd. This is why, when companies make design briefs, they tend to gravitate toward what the perceived industry standards are.

You will often see companies build design briefs based off of industry 'standards', or what they perceive to be good design by other companies. They do this because familiarity tends to bring a sense of comfort.

A great way of avoiding this mistake is to think about the business' principles. What does your product stand for? What is your mission? These are the types of questions you should ask before building a design brief.

What are some companies you respect design-wise?

PL: Federal Express - we all recognize their logo, it's timeless, and it can be used in multiple form factors. Docker - who built their logo using 99designs - they do a great job encapsulating what they are about through their logo. Starbucks is timeless, and has done an amazing job evolving over the years.

When is it appropriate to consider a redesign?

PL: Time - logos can't stay still. Form factor changes. Ten to fifteen years ago people were creating logos for business cards - now we are thinking about thumbnails social media, app tiles, and other forms.

This has gotten considerably more acute in the last three years.

Why is design important?

It's the essence as to how people perceive you. The meaning, the value proposition, the brand standing, it's ability to bring back recall in a fast and meaningful way - all of that is done through design.