What do brands like IKEA, Apple, Volkswagen, Dyson, Lego, Virgin, Google and Herman Miller all have in common?
The answer is simple – design thinking.
This doesn’t necessarily mean all their products and services are aesthetically beautiful, although in many cases they are. It means that the element of design fundamentally underpins the way they run every aspect of their business, including: operational, physical, philosophical and even emotional.
Money down the gurgler
Businesses often treat design as somewhat of an afterthought, a ‘nice to have’ but not essential. I often receive enquiries from prospective clients wanting a ‘cheap and cheerful’ logo, business card, website and piece of signage. While I am completely sympathetic to the financial constraints faced by start-ups, this is, unquestionably, money poured down the gurgler.
Spending a few more dollars upfront to develop a considered, researched brand for your business, one that evolves out of a process of closely assessing your competitors’ strengths and weaknesses, along with identifying the visual messages your target audience(s) are most likely to respond to; will result in an exponentially higher return on investment over time.
It also cultivates your purpose and values. A poorly conceived brand or an ill-structured website does nothing to compel your customers to engage, let alone purchase your product or service.
Design thinking leads to business success
Several years ago, consulting company Motiv Strategies was engaged by the Design Management Institute (DMI) to complete a study into the ways which consistent use of design and the adoption of a ‘design-thinking-centric’ culture impacts on business success. This is now referred to by the organisation as the Design Value Index. Results from the ten year study showed that ‘design-led’ companies maintained significant stock market advantage.
In a more practical context, it’s often a good exercise to think about the ways in which you are most captivated by the use of design. It could be the way your morning coffee is made and delivered by your favourite café barista. It could be the office you go to when you visit your accountant. It could be the way a cleverly designed toy doesn’t create any injuries.
Design thinking can be applied to sales, marketing, product/service differentiation, financials, operations, customer service and more. By embracing design thinking you’ll undoubtedly find yourself on a rapid success trajectory that otherwise would not have been possible.
What are your thoughts on design thinking?