This article was translated from its original French version.
Studies in design have concluded that the world of business generally underestimates and underesteems design. Too often perceived and understood only in its aesthetic capacity, design can do so much more. It can and should be used in all steps – from brainstorming to prototyping – of product/service conception and development. There are more and more companies that are innovating and pushing the boundaries of the marketplace to explore new territories and address social and environmental needs. Design strategies are an innovation tool that transform the way companies develop offers and processes.
Before starting our illustration of this, here are a few relevant definitions and citations.
Intellectual, creative, humanist, pluridisciplinary process, whose objective is to process and offer solutions to everyday problems, big or small, related to economic, social or environmental endeavours.
Potentially present everywhere, aligning with lifestyles, values and needs of human beings, users or the public, design contributes to the creation of spaces, to the communication of visual or auditory messages, interfaces, to the production of products and services, in order to bring meaning, emotion and identity, and to improve the accessibility or experience.
There is therefore no unique or definitive definition of design. It is constantly being reinvented. Designers imagine and conceptualize. Objects, spaces, processes, methods… the term is far-reaching and constantly welcomes new utilisations.
Design – the key to innovation and transformed business
However neglected and underestimated by businesses today, design has the power to improve not only management practices, resource utilization and branding, but expand the understanding and accepting of new trends. Design thinking allows you to see the world from a systematic perspective in order to produce something that will be fully useful because it fulfills a need or solves a problem. Design means finding solutions. It’s a means of enabling technological and social transformation because it forces you to ask the right questions, in the right way. By providing solutions to problems faced today and in the future, design is at the heart of innovation. It is anticipatory. Present in the first stages of brainstorming, it allows your organisation to be a staple of progress.
Design is a tool that enables you to change the rules of competition, favor creativity, start new development processes and share innovative strategies with your stakeholders.
Ex: Divide up your salaried employees into teams, presenting them with a ‘challenge’ designed to surface ideas on pay organisation or internal communication processes.
- Project Management
Design management helps your company pinpoint the intersection between producing a product/service desired on the market with your company’s most ideal output/production process.
Ex: Organize and map out your production process in a clear way by holding interdepartmental meetings, placing the focus on user experience. Create an ‘innovation room’ inviting your team to comment on your production process as well as the competition’s, to be inspired by the market and to take note of your weaknesses identified in meetings.
- Products and Services
Design is a strategic tool that allows you to build more efficient services, focused on the user. It adds value to your company, who will then transform needs into market opportunities and bring about new products/services. Struggling industries can likewise re-legitimize themselves and their practices through the fresh perspective design demands.
Ex: The most common example is the ‘UX’ design, centered on user experience.
The focus is on thinking from the perspective of the user and not simply how you want to design your product or service. There is often a gap between what we want to see happen and what will actually transpire with users.
- Innovation and Differentiation
Design allows you to use new, innovative technologies in your business practices. It will enable deeper reflection on how to apply various concepts, such as waste reduction, product lifecycle, etc. As a differentiation tool, design equally helps companies rethink and reorient their research into areas still unexplored.
Ex: Using non-traditional, innovative materials for product development, such a concrete or animal-free leather. Be ahead of trends and encourage research outside of your sphere to constantly reinvent your practices.
Accessibility and advantages of including design in your company
There is a common idea that design is expensive, very expensive, and that it is not accessible to everyday people, and thus not to startups or SMEs.
This is false. Design IS accessible, even for small organizations. Every design project simply and evidently must fit into your budget. But don’t panic! The most original and effective ideas often flourish without emptying your wallet.
The return on investment is in fact very fast: according to research, less than a year for 20% of SMEs and less than 3 years for 65% of them. Design differentiates your company, anticipates problems to which you’ll already have the solutions, as well as conquer new markets. It also contributes to the quality of life and the growth of sustainable development strategies. It’s a long-term investment that is fruitful, when well executed, and can build strong relations with your stakeholders.
Design is not about the final destination. It’s about the process. The more present it is in every step of a project, the more effective its presence will be. We have seen that the process of design can be applied to all types of practices: management, visual identity of a brand, packaging, commercial architecture, websites and even public services. Don’t hesitate to adopt this problem-solving posture. Once the design way of thinking begins to permeate your thoughts, begin to evaluate where in your company it would be most beneficial to implement. Inform yourself on your suppliers’ practices and the habits of your clients – these are your sources of inspiration and the first step to taking sustainable action.
If you are looking for unique and responsible promotional products, carefully designed by trained designers, that will communicate your company’s vision, don’t hesitate to contact us!