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.
One of the main objectives of a creative consultant is to focus on how design and design thinking can be positioned so that there is not only a fully integrated design team producing better visual outputs but more importantly, to identify how design can be positioned so that it is working towards the clients overarching business goals. It is about identifying how design thinking and design process can help the company’s existing employees produce better outputs while streamlining the design team integration process. This is to result in a creative team that is being utilised as a business development tool rather than a ‘pimp my slides’, 'make it look nice' team, which is a sink-hole most companies fall into.
Making sure the clients and their employees understand how design applies directly to their day to day work process and how it will help them produce better outputs and drive profits.
Profit and Creativity
The number one function for a creative consultant is making sure design is position in a way that is profitable.
Discovery / Education / Integration
For GURU the first step is to discover and analyse a client's current design capabilities and learn their current business processes. A good creative consultant takes the time to learn as much as possible about his clients business. They would look at the business from both the owner and employees point of view in order to gain a holistic view of the business.
This can include sitting-in on projects, meeting and working with managers and employees, and analysing brand growth and current company design materials. During this process, the creative consultant will uncover the details of a company's mission and what operations are in place, as well as identifying their current level of design understanding.
The main focus of a creative consultant is always how design can make an instant impact on clients' profits as well as identifying how design can continue to have a long term impact on company / brand growth.
Strong Creative Foundation
The creative consultant knows that the creative director's aspect of his job plays an essential role within a company’s growth. They are not only responsible for managing/leading their team, developing creative guidelines and directing creative work, but also educating non-design team employees about creative thinking, design processes and how it applies to their own daily working procedures. Like the traditional creative director, they may play many roles within a company's creative structure: project manager / art director / lead designer / copywriter / client manager and consultant. They must also be an effective leader and mentor within their design team as well as with the company's employees. They must focus on growth and maximising the talents of their teams and making sure they feel supported and encouraged to excel.
A creative consultant needs to have a broader overview of the company as a whole, considering the direction on the company’s marketing plans, clients' projects needs, staff development and design innovation.
Creative Consultants role within B2B
Within the B2B sector, one of the toughest challenges a creative consultant may face is how best to integrate design within a non-design based company. This means education on design procedures, which means timelines becomes an important aspect of the job - not only ensuring that projects run smoothly and on time but also that staff understand their day-to-day responsibilities when collaborating with designers. As well as installing a bespoke working procedure that will mean project move smoothly from concept to final output.
Collaboration & integration
It is the duty of any consultant to brings objectivity and a fresh viewpoint, whereas the owners and CEOs tend to be personally attached to the business (correctly so) but this can mean that they are unable to take the necessary step back to survey the totality of their company with impartial and honest eyes. Obviously, the owner is a vital part of the equation: giving company background information, feedback and providing opinions and direction, in a collaborative manner, to the consultant. In turn, it is also equally important for a creative consultant to not have any fixed ideas about "the way things should be" whilst working with a client. They should integrate themselves into a client's company so that they are able to uncover/discover an unbiased, clear perspective of their client's brand position. They must use collected information to form a true and honest image of where the company actually is vs where they see themselves, in order to determined how they can begin to position the client directly where it would be beneficial for them to be.
Both Top-down & Bottom-Up
On any level of any business, employees and executives alike must be told that creative thinking (and creativity in general) is most important. Otherwise, they will have no motivation to try anything other than the status quo, which is often perceived as “safe.”
Without the support, education and collaboration of the whole company top-down and bottom-up, a brand may never reach its full profit-driven potential. This is why, as a creative consultants, we have a firm focus on staff education and growth, working closely with employees to show that in very 'real-world' situations how Design Thinking can make a vast difference to everyday outputs and procedures; incorporating employee training and workshops tactics to instil design-focused thinking and advance storytelling abilities.
When a company is positioned in such a way, there is space to truly develop a (w)holistic process where employees learn how best to work and communicate with design and marketing teams, including (but not limited to) knowing each other responsibility, how long the creative process takes, how to drive innovations whilst making sure employees are interested and stimulated. You begin to set-up an infrastructure that will be the driving force behind the successful D4B process.
The creative industry has known for a number of years that one of the strongest aspects of design is that it is a collaborative and innovative thinking process. At Guru, we have shown time and time again that this ethos, when applied to any business type, works. But without the full cooperation of employee and management then the design process rarely ever meet its full profit-driven potential.
Areas of influence
Give marketing departments more power - allowing them to make more effective/connected content via a clearer brand direction; better process and decision making via a collaborative process between marketing and design teams; better communication structure between departments; better utilisation of social media channels via more creative marketing strategies.
A clear growth strategy developed based on companies Core Creative motivations for existing. Translating that into an effective long term brand growth strategy which is grounded within the company's ethos. Development of an effective in-house comms strategy to help convert "employees" to become brand ambassadors. Development of a better process by the axing of unnecessarily complicated procedures in order to promote truly innovative thinking.
Developing a clear brand ethos, business motivation and growth strategy, improve in-house comms and decision-making procedures. Setting out strategies to develop stronger comms and more targeted company messages via an understanding of how to best utilise innovative thinking within all aspects of your company.
Processes & procedures
Better decision making via an understanding of innovative thinking / Design Thinking and storytelling and how it is applied to employees day-to-day work and decision making. Better insights into staff adoption of the company and brand ethos. A streamlined working process via creative industry techniques of removing unnecessary pipeline touch-points.