Unbound Edition. Meaningful conversations about brand, from Davis Brand Capital.

Defining Design

I have a mouse pad on my desk that reads, “Design is a good idea.” But for organizations trying to adopt to a design-centric approach, what does that mean exactly? John Maeda, President of the Rhode Island School of Design, recently tweeted “Instead of saying we need to “elevate” art+design’s role, we need to instead *reveal* art+design’s role.” Over the past month, at events with leading design thinkers, I’ve heard a lot of discussion about the definition and role of design. In the spirit of “revelation,” here are some points of consensus I’m hearing from across design disciplines:

  • Design is a way of thinking, not a typeface, a color palette, an image or a logo.
  • Design solves problems, refines and clarifies processes and makes products and services work better.
  • Successful design solutions are holistic and employ an interdisciplinary approach.
  • Design seeks to include rather than exclude. It is about making products and services more useful for more people, more often.
  • Design creates positive, meaningful experiences, enriching the relationship between companies and consumers.
  • Consumer services and experiences may be designed with the same inclusive, problem-solving approach that is typically associated with designing tangible products.
  • Design is user-focused. It both shapes and is shaped by behavior. It asks us to anticipate the needs of consumers and create solutions that exceed their expectations.
  • Design aids understanding by clearly communicating complicated data and processes in a complex world. This understanding promotes trust between business and consumer, providing a foundation for lasting relationships.
  • Good design is a competitive advantage.
  • Corporate cultures can introduce a greater design-focus by beginning with small projects. Build a successful record of design-led projects to provide rationale for infusing design thinking throughout large organizations.

Have you heard any other good ideas about design, or suggestions for companies looking to adopt and nurture design thinking throughout their organization?


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