Design as a competitive factor: good design is good business
Design is all about wrapping your product or service in a visually appealing way. This can involve graphic and digital design or product design. Your visual identity is what distinguishes your product or service from your competitors and should also hint at your values. A compelling brand message can set you apart and keep you ahead.
Some years ago I worked at Systemair, a company which develops and markets ventilation products on the global market. After increasing their product portfolio by acquisitions, they met a new challenge in marketing air distribution products such as diffusers. They also saw a new market trend; the builders and architects moved from a purely functionally view of ventilation towards regarding ventilation systems as part of the aesthetic and architectural expression. So how did they meet this challenge? Through cooperation with industrial designers they introduced Sinus, a new diffuser with focus on material and colors. Under the slogan “Design for the future” Sinus was targeted towards architects with elegant market material focusing on good quality pictures supported by an online 3D gallery. I must say it was exciting to be part of this project: to see a well established traditional manufacturer shifting their way of thinking and through this increase they market share and brand value.
This is of course an example of a successful product design, but unfortunately not all design projects end this way. It is always wise to look at the “best in class” before you get involved in a major design project: strategy, cost, resources, project planning, goals and in the end ROI are essential for a happy ending. Here are 4 characteristics with examples from the “best in class”:
1. Good design is distinctive
You will recognize where these products come from – the shape and the material tell you a lot about the product.
The egg chair was designed by Arne Jacobsen (1958) and since then the shape and name has become an internationally known concept.
2. Good design defines a brand
If a company can evolve a core design idea over time, its aspects will become recognizable as part of the brand.
Look at Coca Cola and their legendary bottle design. The design has evolved over the years, but it’s still the same bottle “full of joy”. Design, consistency and a big marketing budget can make wonders to your brand and revenue.
3. Good design is simple to understand
Good design should be self-explanatory and you should be able to start using it immediately – a Zero manual product. You can discover the product on you own.
4. Good design creates loyal customers
In order to create loyal customers through design the secret is to be true to your underlying concept. This means that the design should be recognizable to your users, but come with updates and changes that excite them and attract new customers. People do fall in love with products; just think back to when iPhone was introduced by Apple, people bought it unseen and ordered it from the US before it came to their local market.
Design is fun not only for designers. We make perception of people from what they wear or their hairstyle, and we do the same with products. So the next time your marketing manager is nagging about “keeping to profile”, remember that the world is visual and it may be wise to take it under advisement.
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