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Beyond Aesthetics: The Strategic Power of Design in Modern Business

Disruptive technologies and business models have altered the business landscape in ways never seen before. And the C-Suite scratching heads as to from where would the next threat emerge. And leave them thinking, how do we stay relevant, where should we focus?

No matter what the business climate, keeping and growing Happy Customers is the Holy Grail of Business! Design and designers by keeping a user-centric focus do just that. Solving unmet needs, they seek to achieve customer delight. For, Happy customers grow the top line and make for Happy Businesses. It’s as simple as that!
And that’s why companies now feel that design deserves a seat at the executive table!
McKinsey research has shown that listed design-driven companies outperform their peers by 200%. Bruce Vojak and Walter Herbst have shown that design and innovation-driven Small and Medium Mature enterprises have transformed themselves into category leaders!

Here are five top strategic advantages design offers modern businesses:

Customer Delight

With their customer-centric focus, designers are always ferreting out the unmet needs of the customers through user research. And when the product matches those needs, it generates the A-ha moment, the ones customers are looking for. And that doesn’t have to be high-tech to score big. Think ladles, and you think Joseph Joseph. Adding one stub which lifted the gravy-soaked ladle off the countertop transformed its fortunes to become the UK’s design superstar.

Innovative Differentiation

If you don’t have Design, then you can only eke market share by differentiating on price alone. And that’s a race to the bottom! Designers always look to innovate and surprise the competition. Liquid Death is doing just that. Selling water in cans with a logo that’s the antithesis of life is giving the big boys Pepsico and Coke a run for their money. Pure water, no sugars, no caffeine, just not in plastic bottles that people would compare against a peer.

Elevated Brand Identity

At scale, it can build the brand identity of a country. Italy owns Design! When you think of furniture, you think of Milan! When you think of cars, Ferrari et al! And when you think of that morning cuppa to get you started, the Moka pot holds fort. Nowhere else has design remained synonymous with a country for so long? Design boosts brand recall in a crowded marketplace. It sets your product or service apart from wannabe’s which can compete on cost alone.

Improved Operational Efficiencies

Design goes beyond cool looks. By studying the manufacturing processes involved, the designers at Carrefour reinvented the Barbeque. They replaced sheet metal fabrication techniques with the deep-drawn approach used by kitchen sink makers. This de-risked approach delivered staggering operational efficiencies allowing Carrefour to offer a starting price 20% lower than the competition without any promotional discounts.

Greater Customer Loyalty

Every business knows the value of a retained customer. It’s cheaper to get more business from an existing customer than acquiring a new one. Take Decathlon Cycles for example. With attention to ergonomics, they help kids get rid of their training wheels earlier, endowing them with a sense of achievement. What happens when the kid grows up? They’re likely to graduate to the bigger size of the same brand. And guess what, they’re likely to buy other products from Decathlon having experienced delight with the cycle.

Design cannot deliver this alone. It must be integrated at all levels of the enterprise right from strategic planning to implementation. Done right, it creates lasting physical, digital and service experiences. Experiences that retain existing customers, convert them to evangelists, grow the customer base, drive long-term success and transform the enterprise.

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