More effective writers understand the difference between denotation and connotation. Denotation is the meaning which language conveys directly. You can think of denotation as the dictionary definition. On the other hand, connotation is the meaning which language conveys indirectly. This is meaning which is implied or suggested.
Despite and in spite of have the same denotation; both mean notwithstanding. Yet each of these constructions have related but different connotations; the associated meaning conveyed by each construction differs. Despite conveys an effort to avoid responsibility or blame. In spite of simply conveys a recognition of competing or alternative influences without assessing any responsibility or blame for an end result.
Consider the example sentence in the graphic above. Using the word despite suggests that those who were trying to implement an improved weld between the two joint ends are not to blame for the continued failure of the joint weld. The writer must assess the legitimacy and appropriateness of such a suggestion. Where he or she would decide on those grounds against using despite, the writer should employ in spite of.
Understanding the difference between the denotation and connotation of choices in language can help you become a more effective writer. In spite of suggesting blame, despite means the same. But the differences in connotation can make all the difference in the precision your writing employs. More precise writing is more effective writing, and that can make a more effective presentation of not just your message but also you and your brands to your audience.