Home  |  About Us  |  Contact  |  Social Media  |  News  |  Create  |  Develop  |  Refine  |  Protect  |  Invest  |  
The Total Image Group   ...Business Alchemists

A regularly updated resource of information and news items.

Posts Tagged ‘product’

Using Design to Drive Innovation

Posted Friday, December 11th, 2009

Designers must deliver the orchestration of the total experience with a brand, product, or service or face irrelevancy

Businessweek, June 29 2009

In a previous era, all the talk was of strategy, strategy, strategy. More recently, it’s been innovation, innovation, innovation. As design thinking seems poised to sweep away some of today’s celebrated innovation practices, we must be wondering what new provocation is on the horizon. Relax, I’m not planning to conjure one up.

For those of us on the design consulting side of the business, it has not exactly been a smooth ride lately. But then again, I can’t say that I ever remember it being all that smooth, even when the demand for all forms of basic design and new production capability was sky-high.

Having lived one career on the corporate design side of the consumer-products industry and now a good part of another on the consulting side, I’ve seen the ascendancy of design as a profession and the movement of design toward business competency. At the outset, designers were about style and the creation of bright shiny objects, and we dutifully manned our post at the last decoration station on the way to the marketplace.

Today, there are arguably two design strategies in the marketplace. You either succeed as the low-cost producer, or you successfully differentiate your offering by design in a relevant, meaningful way that is valued by shoppers, consumers, and sellers. As such, the theoretical role of design in business is relatively uncomplicated and straightforward.

Design in Business
The complications come with these two questions: Where does the core idea around a differentiated, relevant, valued offering come from? And what is its relationship to this thing we used to call design? You know—the bright shiny objects.

In our practice, we refer to the former as innovation strategy, and to the latter as design strategy. Somewhere in between resides the opportunity for brand strategy, and we hope to create a system in which there is a seamless flow from ideas to brand meaning and, finally, to how that brand or product or service is expressed and communicated.

Putting all three aspects of this brand-building practice together provides validity in thinking about design as one of the primary idea generators for the creation of viable business platforms. Assuming that the manifestation of a business offering is realized in the context of a brand, that brand requires meaning, a defined expression, and then, given some success, a plan for continued opportunity development that sustains and grows the business.

How to Innovate
True innovation requires the adoption of a belief system that sometimes must prevail in the face of other data metrics. Read up on the great inventions and business wins and you will note that at the core of most of them lie belief, dedication, and the passion to succeed.

Today’s business leaders are often too afraid to move ideas forward without ironclad data proofs that they will be successful. All too often, they are the losers. Use your head, listen to your heart, and feel what’s in your gut.

As long as the human spirit and the marketplace lives on, I’m sure we will be inventing and innovating. Innovation is the commercial side of discovery and invention. Change is a huge driver of both discovery and invention. The world changes around us and we discover new things and we observe change and invent new things to deal with change.

If designers are content to function as purveyors of bright shiny objects, they will likely fade into obscurity. On the other hand, if they step forward and deliver the orchestration of the total experience with a brand, product, or service in the context of our changing environment, their future, too, looks bright.


Squeaky clean

Posted Wednesday, October 7th, 2009

BBC World Service, 22nd September 2009

Lots of people get very excited about this thing called “branding”. Flatfooted thinkers use the concept as though they thereby are granted great insights into the mysteries of business.

It’s easy to see why. After the serious business of thinking deep financial thoughts, you can do sexy things with branding : psychoanalyse brands, for example, or run focus groups about them.

You can even do that weird sort of reverse branding exercise that recruitment people used to specialise in. “If you were a car” they would ask, intently, “what sort of car would you be?” Abject nonsense.

Now I am not trying to undermine the value of brands themselves. Big brands are both powerful and very valuable to the companies that own them.

Branding (or sign-making) is an ancient game : witness the bushes signifying a mediaeval pub, or the barber’s pole (that means more than just a close shave in some parts of the world).

Inseparable: What makes me annoyed is when everybody gets the idea that brands can be dreamed up, advertised and made to happen, just like that. “What values do we want to attach to our new brand?” people ask at brainstorming sessions, before they pass some sort of brief to an advertising agency who’ll whip up some clever ideas.

Brands shouldn’t be bolt on attributes, like that. Brands should be virtues accruing to products and services over long experience of them by customers and consumers.

Real brands have lives of their own, and flourish because of it, not because somebody is spending millions face lifting them. The best brands are an implicit part of the experience of product, and are probably inseparable from it.

So the question for businesses to ask is not “How to we build a brand” but how do we make things that people really want to buy and value and pay more for?

How do we make our products real experiences for our users, so the brand and the things are intertwined ?

These thoughts are driven by this week’s programme from San Diego, California. I dropped in to a workaday industrial estate to listen to Gary Ridge, chief executive officer of a company called WD-40. You probably know the product in its distinctive blue and yellow cans, and you probably know how it starts off as a lubricant and then generates all kinds of other uses, most of which give the users the wonderful feeling that it’s their cleverness to spray on the WD-40, rather than the product’s versatility.

Acquisitions: That’s what I mean by branding: the product is so satisfying that people are constantly trying to think up new uses for it.

One women told the company she stops squirrels from climbing up the pole on which her bird feeder is placed by squirting it with WD-40.

The brand has a story attached. The death was announced earlier this year of John Barry, the man who took over the Rocket Chemical Company in 1969, when the main market for what became WD-40 was stopping space rockets corroding. He saw the potential of this water dispersant as an all-purpose lubricant, changed the name of the company to reflect the 39 unsuccessful attempts they had to find the magic formula that finally worked with mixture number 40, and built the brand.

What’s nice about WD-40 today is that the company under Gary Ridge still understands and respects that splendid tradition. Yes WD-40 is a wonder international brand, and understands itself. When Gary Ridge looks for acquisitions, they have to meet a difficult criterion … they have to over impress the user.

And that’s what I call branding.


Twitter to replace email marketing

Posted Tuesday, September 22nd, 2009

The Retail Bulletin, Wednesday September 16th 2009

Despite the lowering costs and accessibility of email marketing, many businesses are now looking at Twitter as an economical substitute, according to Deborah Collier Chief Strategist at e-business consultancy Echo E-Business.

Collier explains “Email marketing offers a channel to directly target subscribers, however the return on investment, particularly for smaller businesses is still fairly low in comparison to other media channels. The biggest email marketing value for many businesses, particularly in the B2B markets, is in relationship and brand building over a period of time, supporting the overall sales process – Now we have Twitter to do that, and its free”

“From restaurant bookings to product launches, Twitter has now become a de facto tool, not only for relationship building, but also sales” says Collier

However, it is not just the small companies that are cashing in to the potential of Twitter. According to June reports from from Dell Computers, they generated $3m in sales from Twitter (Internet Retailing Magazine)

“Its important to remember, however, that it’s not what tool you use, but also why, how and when to use it. With any strategy it’s important to ensure that you are in the right place at the right time, and that your message if communicated effectively”, adds Collier

Echo E-Business recently posted a recent Customer Engagement workshop alert on Ecademy. Within one hour, a member of IBM advocated the workshop in a Tweet to his network. An IBM Twitter follower subsequently contacted Echo E-Business. “This is the power of Twitter’, says Collier “the ability to advocate others, and have them advocate you – And it costs nothing, just time and know-how”.

“Online strategies are now an absolute necessity, even for the smallest or most traditional of traders and for e-businesses looking for levels of engagement unmatched by traditional media. The problem is that most businesses are still struggling to get to grips with Twitter, and understand it’s real value” explains Collier.


Without limits: The weird and wonderful world of fantastical one-off design

Posted Tuesday, May 12th, 2009

What happens when top designers are given the freedom to create whatever they want? Something weird and wonderful, says Sophie Lovell
The Independent, Saturday, 25 April 2009

What we need is obvious, says the great German industrial designer Dieter Rams: “Less but Better” – less junk, less pollution, less waste, fewer “things” altogether and in their place, better, more refined, essential tools for living. And of course he is right. So why do we need new chairs that we can’t sit on, conceptual artefacts that serve no obvious purpose and strange remixes and hybrids? In order to find new solutions designers need to experiment. Now, more than ever, they need to question every given, test every avenue and challenge all our preconceptions if they are to help find new ways of moving forward.

The realm of design, like many other disciplines, is now challenged to fulfil an increasing number of roles: to keep up with new materials; to facilitate our increasing technological dependence; to help make the world a better and more sustainable place, yet also balance all that out with the demand for the trophies of conspicuous consumption and an unquenchable desire for novelty.

Many designers think of themselves as explorers, testing the boundaries of materials, processes and mediums. They are committed to experimentation, and a growing band of gallerists, patrons and curators are nurturing these experiments in the form of one-offs, prototypes or limited editions. Thus the most fascinating innovations in design are now coming from an unexpected quarter: where it brushes against… the realm of art, and of conceptual art in particular. These pioneering individuals are asking some big questions. What is design? What does it mean to call oneself a designer? What are the roles of objects and products? If design is to provide so many solutions, where does it have to go to find new answers?


Better by design – the UK’s only way forward

Posted Friday, May 8th, 2009

Britain must learn to innovate or it will stagnate, argues Lord Sainsbury

Lord Sainsbury, The Observer, Sunday 31 October 2004

The UK is facing unprecedented competition in business and intense pressure to deliver quality public services that meet people’s needs and expectations in the 21st century. To rise to this challenge, national performance and prosperity will increasingly depend on the creativity and inventiveness of our people. The DTI’s ambition is to create the conditions where UK industry gains an international reputation for innovation to match our reputation for scientific and technological discoveries.

By more than doubling the science budget, the government is ensuring that the UK remains a leader in scientific excellence. By 2007-08 the science budget will be £3.3 billion, compared with £1.3bn in 1997-08. However, the aim is not simply to increase the volume of pure scientific research. To deliver a new prosperity, we need to maintain our reputation for world-class science and to increase our rate of innovation.

One of the most potent sources of innovation is design. Its impact has been used to transform products, services, systems – entire organisations. Take the Apple iPod. While the technology for its development already existed, what made it such an iconic example of successful innovation was its design. Through understanding and meeting people’s needs and expectations, Jonathan Ive, the British designer behind the iPod, delivered a highly desirable product that was also a system (iTunes) and a service (iTunes Music Store).

Only organisations which think about their customers in this way can expect to succeed. This view is reinforced by a recent study that revealed that the share price of companies which used design well outperformed the FTSE 100 by 200 per cent over the 10 years to 2003.

Unfortunately, UK start-up and early-stage ventures under-use design skills when commercialising technology. Examples such as the WAP mobile phone demonstrate that pushing more and more technology at users will never be the answer. New products must reflect and meet the needs of customers. Successful companies are increasingly using designers and the design process to identify user needs then create products to meet them. At an early stage, technology businesses need to establish what value their products will have in the marketplace before attempting to commercialise them.

The government recognises this challenge and, as a part of the new DTI Innovation Strategy, has tasked the Design Council to deliver national campaigns to enhance innovation through the improved use of design, focusing on the manufacturing and emerging technology sectors. The results from the Design Council’s early work, mentoring a few companies to use design more effectively, demonstrates the potential. For every pound invested by the Design Council, company sales have increased by £14. The goal now is to further develop this support so that it can be delivered through the Manufacturing Advisory Service and other partners across the country. The key policy aim is to get more successful products into the marketplace.

Early work by the Design Council is already resulting in powerful and growing evidence that spending a relatively small amount on design activity in the early stage of scientific or technological development delivers disproportionate benefits – a key one being attracting venture capital.

If design remains a late add-on to new products and innovations, UK business will not fully reap the benefit of innovation. But by encouraging UK businesses to acquire the skills and advice to exploit design at the initial stages, we can give a further boost to innovation, resulting in greater economic performance in an ever more competitive global knowledge economy.

(Lord Sainsbury is Secretary of State for Science and Innovation)


 
©2018 The Total Image Group
Home  |  About Us  |  Contact  |  Social Media  |  News  |  Create  |  Develop  |  Refine  |  Protect  |  Invest
The Total Image Group Ltd is a company registered in England and Wales with company number 02595342
The company's registered office is Willow Corner, 7 Ackrells Mead, Little Sandhurst, Berkshire, GU47 8JJ