Why a design-managed business is a profitable business.
Today Nick chats to Line van der Merwe, founder and CEO of Life is Awesome:
The business year is just a few weeks old yet is already setting an aggressive pace thanks to a tougher economic climate, savvier customer and explosion of disruptive tech. To stay relevant in an always-on and increasingly competitive world, innovative design thinking should be on the 2015 business agenda. So says Liné van der Merwe, director of multi-disciplined design studio Life is Awesome. Here she shares why design isn’t just good for business, it’s imperative.
1. Design solves business problems
Last year’s World Design Capital 2014 challenged everyday people to ask “What If” we viewed the world through a design lens? Applied to myriad social, environmental and economic issues by hundreds of officially recognised #WDC2014 projects, its power to transform was elevated on a global stage. The same applies to business. Used strategically to address employee engagement, customer acquisition or profitability, design thinking can radically reform a challenge into an opportunity. Take for instance smart pizza brand, Green Box. It redesigned its packaging so that its box could be used as four plates or made smaller to store leftovers easily in the fridge. A simple solution driven by design.
2. A confused mind does not buy
It’s no coincidence that the world’s largest search engine’s interface is utterly minimalist or that sleek UX converts. Purposeful design guides clients through webpages, subtly directing them to the desired action. With e- and m-commerce on the rise in South Africa, quality navigation and user-friendly web experiences drive commercial success. Yet too many businesses sell themselves short with a below average, and at times confusing, website. Advocates of simplicity, good designers cut through the clutter so that only what truly matters remains, creating a quality experience that converts.
3. Empowered customers trust you more
Social media gave the people power. But a side-effect has been a global decline in trust. It’s no surprise then that flat design (as pioneered by Windows 8), iconography and visual communication are seen more and more in “serious” places like annual reports and legalise. Its simplicity empowers people which in turn builds confidence and trust – a must in an increasingly savvy and transparent society.
4. Design is proven to impact the bottom-line
Apple, Coca-Cola, IBM and Starbucks are among global companies that outperformed the Standard & Poor’s 500 – a stock market index of 500 large publicly traded companies – by 285% over the past 10 years! This was revealed by the Design Management Institute, a NGO based in Boston, US, that analyses design management. They proved that profitable design-led companies invest in smooth user experiences, beautiful branding and innovative advertising.
5. Competitive advantage packed in a picture
You know you have the final logo when it cannot be used for any other brand. Replicated online and in real-life, in any size, it firmly yet subtly reinforces a business’s values, ethics and purpose – no copy required. Nike’s iconic swoosh is still one of the world’s best examples while in SA FNB is a notable home-grown logo that captures the brand’s African identity.
6. Design speaks human
Steve Jobs said “design is the fundamental soul of a man-made creation that ends up expressing itself in successive outer layers of the product or service.” In other words its character is what appeals to customers and keeps them coming back. He and designer Jonathan Ives arguably created a host of products that won our hearts and changed our lives forever. While you may not become the next Apple, applying Jobs’s logic by creating a brand that engages customers on an emotional level can reap dividends. Take the Daddy’s Group for instance (of the Old Biscuit Mill and Old Mac Daddy fame). Its unconventional experience attracts swarms of urban hipsters to Woodstock every weekend while its funky Airstream trailer park put it on the local tourist map – without a cent being spent on traditional advertising!
7. Learn from Larry
In today’s competitive business landscape, the now famous phase “Good design is good business”, coined in 1956 by IBM’s long-term Chairman-CEO Thomas Watson Jr., is a modern truism. The challenge now is for companies to take this seriously and make design-thinking a priority. Just like Larry Page did when he joined Google. Today the global search-engine is a tech powerhouse renowned for its sleek, minimalist interface. Why? Because design has a seat at the table.
As the year gets into full swing, I invite business-owners to follow in Page’s forward-thinking footsteps and put design on the business agenda. It may well be worth the risk.
- We take our bodies to gym! Why don’t we exercise our brains? |#OneEyedMan |#MikeStopforth |#Podcast |#ebizradio | Jacques Rousseau - September 30, 2020
- New Phones enter the RSA Market | eBizTechnology| Arthur Goldstuck| Podcast - September 30, 2020
- Hospitality: From Lockdown, to now and more importantly, going forward | #eBizInsights | Graham Wood of Sun International | Podcast - September 30, 2020
- Why are we as African’s still turning a blind eye to child abuse and neglect, holding no-one accountable? - September 29, 2020
- Why is local no longer lekker? | #eBizWires | Richard Firth - September 29, 2020
- The evolution of email to emerge as a marketing power tool| #eBizWires - September 29, 2020
- New uses for Commercial Office Space| #eBizTrends | Dion Chang | Podcasts - September 28, 2020
- Why cultivating leadership is imperative to every organisation! |#LTL |#KevinBritz | Naomi Basson | Passmore Matupire |#Podcast |#Leadership |#ebizradio - September 28, 2020
- Have you considered living and working in the USA? Reinventing yourself abroad |#LTM |#KevinBritz |#BjornSalsone |Andrea Magni |#Marketing |#Podcast - September 24, 2020
- Vator Pitch? What is it and why do you need one? |#KevinBritz |#LTC |Toyin Ademola |#Podcast |#ebizradio - September 23, 2020