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Strategic Design - How to Align Product, Brand and Business Strategy

Strategic Design

Designers often work in an agency-like environment to consult or support companies in their new product development. So, designers are good at ideating new products and services for the company and how to get them alive and in shape. On the other hand businesses have to struggle with short- and long-term goals and strategies to accomplish them. Therefore, it can happen that design agencies provide good concepts for new products, but they are not fitting to the overall business strategy or in other words, there is no alignment of new products, brand and business strategy. Abby Goddey of frogdesign mentions this issue: "Design firms are generally good at addressing what should be made, but their abilities may vary based on the how and the why. Many designers, in their design training, are not initially prepared to address what a client needs to understand around the why, and design firms can often leave a client hanging regarding the how."

The agency designaffairs tends to have a more holistic approach. New products, branding and business strategies have to be adapted in accordance to each other. Therefore they use various more or less scientific tools. One major tool is the so-called „Design Style Observation“ or short DSO. In the last years they discovered different styles that are very common or repeating in our product culture. Until now, they reduced them to eight basic styles (see image gallery below).

For example „Classic Vision“ is inspired by the past, interprets historical styles in a contemporary design style, mostly an indicator for quality and premium products. Design styles help to bring products, desired target groups and the company’s brand together. A brand that is perceived as cheap and reasonable, aiming towards low-income households and a product emphasizing „Classic Vision“ does not fit very well. But how do we know about the perception of brands, products and target groups?

For that reasons the agency uses a tool called „SimuPro“. Different people were asked how they perceive for example a brand with predefined attributes. After this survey they get a clear understanding of the positioning of the brand within a triangle defined by the extremes „experience“, „preserver“ and „challenge“ (see image gallery below).

According to this result they can find out which target group would fit to the brand and they can also deliver potential design styles (see Design Style Observation) for the product itself.

The „Design Radar“ is another tool developed by designaffairs. It gives the designer some sort of steering device how to position the new product for the company. Therefore the designer has to answer questions like this: Should the new product fit to the business brand? If there is no brand fit for the new product this could mean that it is positioned as a complete new branch of the company entering new markets (Blue Ocean Strategy). The radar is divided into four sections of questions: Corporate, market, consumer and innovation relation (see image gallery below).



designaffairs (2013), Source
Source: What Aspiring Designers Need to Know About Strategy (2013), Source
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