I recently attended a talk for the DBA ( Design Business Association) by Michael Thomson an eminent design strategy specialist and an expert on national design policy.

His talk was to a group of design agencies, VMAL included, and the focus was a deeper understanding of design-led strategic thinking that will enable business growth.

I found his talk quite eye opening and practical and realised that it has a strong relevance to a lot of small to medium companies and that is why I am writing this post

Michael has worked in Austria, Iceland, Ireland, Italy and Qatar and with the European Commission in Brussels. and has also advised large public sector clients in the UK and well known brands such as Ecco, Tupperware and Dyson.

I will present some of his facts and add some of my own:

Lets start with an example:

Schreyer, the designer of the Audi TT Coupe, was hired to overhaul Kia’s lineup and allow the Seoul-based automaker to charge more for its models.

Here is a little quote from Kia’s website

DESIGN MEANS EVERYTHING.It could only be a Kia. Our commitment to design is such that we hope when you look at Kia, you’ll recognize it instantly. Clean, contemporary lines. Bold, aggressive touches. The distinct tiger nose grille. An aesthetic that’s both playful and considered—that’s Kia.

Governments and the public sector and many companies big or small do not necessarily view design as an important part of their marketing strategy. They see it as a nice thing to have . The thinking is “If things are clean and look good then it will project a nice image”

… but the facts on the ground show that companies with design as a strategy actually increase their bottom line.

Here are are some interesting studiers:

The design council says “For every £100 a design alert business
spends on design, turnover increases
by £225.”

Another study on the impact of design innovation service on technology companies show the following:

— 80% changed strategic direction– accelerating
them towards a customer rather than
a technology focus
— 80% reported a changed mindset, culture
and vision
— 75% invested significantly in design and
are confident of a return on investment
— 50% saw better management or a reduction in
commercial risks
— 35% changed product or service

Some companies that have used design very effectively as an integral part of their brand include Apple, Fisher & Paykel, Dyson, Joseph and Joseph, IKEA to name a few.

Here is a quote from an article by Adam Swann on Forbes website:

To illustrate, Apple, the epitome of a design-led organization, now has a market capitalization of $570 billion, larger than the GDP of Switzerland. Its revenue is double Microsoft’s, a similar type of technology organization but one not truly led by design (just compare Microsoft Windows with Apple’s Lion operating system).

I rest my case!