To survive in today’s rapidly changing world, products and services must not only anticipate change, but drive it. Businesses that don’t drive change will lose market share to those that do.
What is Design Strategy?
Design strategy is a discipline which helps companies determine (a) what to make and do, (b) why do it and (c) how to innovate contextually, both immediately and over the long term.
It is the application of future-oriented design principles in order to increase an organization’s innovative and competitive qualities.
Its foundations lie in the analysis of external and internal trends and data, enabling design decisions to be made around facts rather than aesthetics or intuition. As such it is regarded as an effective way to bridge innovation, research, management and design.
What makes it different from Traditional Design?
Traditional definitions of design often focus on creating discrete solutions—be it a product, a building, or a service.
Strategic design is about applying some of the principles of traditional design to big picture systemic challenges like business growth, health care, education, logistics and other areas.
It redefines how problems are approached, identifies opportunities for action, and helps deliver more complete and resilient solutions.
The traditional concept of design is mainly associated with artistic work. Strategy allows ideas to become practical and profitable, and aims towards building applications that can be managed effectively by desired target audiences.
What are the benefits of applying Strategy?
There are at least four factors that demonstrate the value of strategic design and these are:
it affects consumer behavior through motivation by creating percieved value;
it offers a way for companies to differentiate their brands, products and services from their competition;
it creates meaning, by effectively making the customer understand the brand, the product and its value; and,
it can be used to manage risks by providing a structure that offers opportunities for collaboration, innovation and the creation of a mechanism to meaningfully address problems.
It's not about creating something pretty, it's about delivering the right value.
What are the applications of Design Strategy?
Strategic design can play a role in helping to resolve the following common problems:
Identifying the most important questions that a company's products and services should address.
Translating customer and company insights into actionable solutions.
Prioritizing the order in which a range of features, products and services should be launched and how.
Connecting design efforts to an organization's business strategy.
Integrating design as a fundamental aspect of strategic brand intent.
How does this process work for your company?
Whether a company is evolving* or new to the industry, I work with businesses and organizations of all sizes to clarify their purpose, find their voice, understand their customers, and define their goals.
The Strategic Design Process provides the following deliverables:
BRAND FACTS AND ATTRIBUTES
Brand attributes are characteristics that describe the intrinsic and extrinsic qualities of a brand. They reveal its personality, functionality, and physical traits through imagery, language, actions, and assumptions. Attributes are what allow us to identify brands.
USER PROFILES AND JOURNEYS
I apply our findings from customer segmentation to user profiles that represent a brand’s target markets, then map out scenarios in which those users might interact with a brand. Defining informed interactions helps us predict pain points and provides insight into functionality and user behavior.
CUSTOMER REVENUE AND SEGMENTATION
Segmentation is a powerful tool for discovering customer needs and potential for growth. By examining the behaviors, motivations, and frustrations of specific groups within a target market, we can identify unfulfilled needs and turn them into competitive advantage.
A thorough competitive analysis is critical for any emerging or evolving business. This process identifies the strengths and weaknesses in a brand’s competitive landscape, allowing your company to better understand the market, target customers more effectively, and make intelligent decisions about how to grow your brand.
Positioning is the heart of a brand. It defines what a brand is, its benefits and competitive advantages, and what it means to the target market. In short, brand positioning establishes an emotional connection with your customers. It’s how you want your company to be perceived in their minds and among competitors.
*For companies evolving:
Even after you’ve rolled out your new product, service, or process, you’re just getting started. In almost every case, you move on to the next version, which is going to be better because you’ve had more time to think about it.
The same goes for strategy. The market is always changing; your strategy needs to change with it. Since design thinking is inherently rooted in the world, it is ideally suited to helping your strategy evolve.
It all comes back to the fact that in order to really raise innovation productivity within organizations, at the strategic level and everywhere else, you have to increase the amount of design thinking inside them. Doing so helps you get to clarity faster, helps your company understand where you’re taking it, helps you figure out whether you’re on the right track, and enables you to adapt quickly to change. Those are pretty valuable survival skills.
Some companies already understand this and are working design thinking into their organizations. It’s not such a hard thing to do. The toughest part is taking that first step–breaking away from your habitual way of working and getting out into the world.
Interested in working together?
Seems like we're a fit for a project?
Feel free to get in touch to say hello, schedule a talk or ask any question I might be the right person to answer.