What if I tried to sell you a really pretty looking car without an engine? Would you be interested? Be honest, probably not. A car was built to go from point A to point B. So if the car can't do its first fundamental job, it fails. Even if its truly a work of art, you'll only be able to appreciate it as such and not as an automobile.
All too often I come across startups or new establishing brands who say, "We need design help." I inquire further. Usually its described as something along the lines of "it needs to look better." While looks are important (my mother was right) its not the only thing that matters. Design is a vehicle to solving multifaceted problems between a customer and vendor.
A valuable design definition
The idea of creating a cost-effective, simple & desired result for a transaction (between customer and vendor).
Not as valuable design definition
How to get your ‘free farts’ button to look better than any other ‘free fart’ button on the market.
Both aesthetic direction and design direction work best with clear purpose. Startup organizations that best do this tend to facilitate the freedom and knowledge required to allow those in the organization to create new purpose in the customer/vendor relationship. In short: educated decision making.
Question to ask
Your organization is a higher design. Do you have a definition for what "design" means inside it? Does your team understand proper methods for executing design not just as a visual layer?