Design for Business (D4B)
When people think about design, they tend to focus only on visual aspects. The beautiful imagery and emotion activating outputs. This is why design is and will always be considered vital to a company’s growth. Especially in today’s digital world. To quote the Buddhist monk Thích Nhất Hạnh (later made popular by Bruce Lee’s Adaptation)
“A finger pointing at the moon is not. The moon. The finger is needed to know where to look for the moon, but if you mistake the finger for the moon itself, you will never know. the real moon.”
For most people, the moon is the creative output, when in fact is, the moon is the creative process itself. As without this, there can be no moon to look upon. Yet, most companies focus is purely on outputs missing (to quote Bruce) “all of the heavenly glory”.
This is where Guru looks at the thing with a truly holistic view. We focus on helping our clients develop to develop stronger ideas and strategies via teaching how to align themselves with a more design-centric method of operations via the adoption of Design Thinking. Improving marketing outputs but also the overall brand direction via alignment to a more design-centric way of operating.
Even though Design Thinking was developed within the design and creative industry, this does not mean that they do not apply to every type of business. In truth, as long as a business need to generate ideas and solve business problems, then becoming more design-centric is to those companies benefit.
“When a company creates instead of Competing, they instantly set hem self as industry leaders.”
A good Design output / creative strategy isn’t something that just happens via a just having good designer in-house. There is a tried and tested methodology creative use that allows them to discover the undiscovered, truly thinking ‘outside of the box.
It doesn’t matter if you fill a company with the best designers and creative in the world or your company simply employee one designer. Without the foundational understanding of how to position design as a profit-driving tool, the creative will often fail to deliver its full potential. A solid design output/marketing strategy/brand growth strategy all starts with the ideation process. Over the years, Design thinking has grown beyond a method purely used by designers to something that influences nearly all areas of businesses.
Via Design Thinking, companies can create a more effective business culture that can swiftly identify and answer any business queries, while simultaneously working towards a well-defined business growth plan.
Successful brands use their passion as a reference point when making business decisions. This is especially true when translating a brand story into a visual medium. Follow brand passion is the cusp of what we mean by ‘create, not compete. A company that focuses solely on competing against its rivals will never be at the innovative forefront of its business. Whilst, on the other hand, a company that rather than ‘follow the crowd,’ chooses to focus on their passion for business (what we call their Core Creative) and being the best at what they do and how they do it, will always lead.
Using Design Thinkings to create a Design-Centric Business Model
The first step is to discover and analyse a business current innovation and brand growth capabilities is to observe its current business procedures. By observation of a client’s problem-solving methods, creative consultants are able to assess how design-centric a company is. An experienced creative consultant takes the time to learn as much as possible about his clients’ businesses. They would look at the business from both the owner, employees and customer point of view to gain a holistic view of the brand.
How does design become embedded in an organisation, part of its DNA? For all companies, and particularly for SMEs, the initial answer is clear: the CEO and top management have to support and believe in it.
('Leading Business by Design', Design Council report)
Design is not just about outputs
Creative thinking will ALWAYS be in demand. The first step is to understand what creative thinking means at its core. Design Thinking is cross-marketable, companies that have developed their Design Thinking skills to a point where they can draw upon it at any time, often have the edge that really differentiates them from competitors. Scrutiny of any number of successful brands, you will find a number of similarities in some processes which promote creative thinking and swift decision making among employees. But the main connecting factor between these companies is always a process that is directly influenced by a clear brand motivation, partnered with effective communication. It is that visual translation of a company’s passion that connects to its audiences emotive reasoning. And for every brand, this should be the goal of a successful business!
Any creative director will tell you that working on a creative project within a company will give you a deeper insight into that company’s operation. This is because, at its heart, the creative process requires both a rigid and flexible approach. Design heads need to know how to innovate and develop effective brand content/strategies while creating new solutions for nearly any business problem.
Benefits of investing in Design centricity
As you can see from the graphic when companies invest in and move to align themselves as a design-centric business, their return on investment is one that easily justifies the initial financial output. According to the report by McKinsey, the companies that performed better are those that look beyond the design as a purely external function and employ Design Thinking into the wider business culture.
“Times are changing. The sales cycle is becoming increasingly complex and customers are demanding a more personalized experience. If you’re a sales rep, you know you need to up your game and become more innovative. Sales teams are recognizing the value of incorporating a design thinking approach into their daily activities. Salesforce’s sales team, for example, has embraced design thinking in its sales discovery process and has realized a 100% increase in revenue growth as a result.”
Falon Fatemi, Forbes
What is Design Thinking?
Design Thinking is an intuitive process in which we seek to understand the user, challenge assumptions, and redefine problems in an attempt to identify alternative strategies and solutions that might not be instantly apparent with our initial level of understanding. At the same time, Design Thinking provides a solution-based approach to solving problems. It is a way of thinking and working as well as a collection of hands-on methods.
Why is it important to businesses?
One of the main objectives of a creative consultant is to focus on how the design team should be created to push the wider business objectives. Rather than solely focused on producing better outputs and campaigns, also identifying how design can be positioned to driving towards the clients overarching business goals. Identifying how design thinking and design framework can help the company’s existing employees produce better outputs while streamlining the design team integration process. Resulting in a creative team that is being utilised as a business development tool rather than a ‘make it look nice’ team, which is the mistake most companies make.
“Design thinking is a proven and repeatable problem-solving protocol that any business or profession can employ to achieve big results. Design thinking combines creative and critical thinking that allows information and ideas to be organized, decisions to be made, situations to be improved, and knowledge to be gained. It’s a mindset focused on solutions and not the problem.”
Lawton Ursrey, Forbes
Creating a Design centric business
The true beauty of Design Thinking is that it comes at very little cost. Essentially Design Thinking is about addressing how employees think and innovate, drawing them more in line with the methods of the creative industry. It's about helping to break habitual thinking (the enemy of innovation). This is why a lot of companies that either employ external creative’s or have their own in-house designers can still struggle to maximise brand impact. Having the creative skills at your disposal is great, but knowing how to best utilise those skills to improve the overall company direction is the goal.
When creating an in-house creative team, making sure that the team is built according to the clients individual business needs and motivations. A design team integrated via the business adoption of Design Thinking, creates a better business culture, happier employees and brand growth. But without first establishing a brand CC and business ethos, creativity will always lack direction.
The best companies use design thinking as a framework within all areas of operations (Sales, Framework, HR, Marketing, brand direction). The design process speaks directly to the human experience. When applied correctly, the design process is collaborative, focused, considered and excited with surgeon like precession yet somehow, it also remains agile and innovative with the ability to handle any unseen problem thrown at it. These are all aspects of growth that any company can benefit from. By having a defined brand story and direction under which all can rally around, the business can better focus on the brand directives.
While creating an in-house creative team should equally split between establishing frameworks as much as the team itself. The end goal for businesses should be to inspire the best out of their creative members. The result of this will always be a business that is more agile and innovative within its operation.