Journal 12 Sep 2019

Are businesses underrating the design and creative process?

In many companies, the design and creative process is considered something that happens very early on in a product’s or service’s lifecycle. A task to be got out of the way before the ‘real’ task of selling can get underway. However, what many organisations fail to realise is how fundamental the design process is.

In our article ‘Why designers are critical to a product launch’, from July this year, we discussed how the role of a product designer is fundamental to the success of a product, not just in the initial creation of the design, but also in the ability to gain market share.

There’s an increasing awareness of the role that product design and creativity has in the success or failure of a product, service or even an organisation. This doesn’t mean that every businesses is sold on the idea of putting product design and creativity front and centre though.

So, is the design and creative process merely a process to be advanced through as quickly as possible to deliver the finished item, or is there more to it than that?

Ask anyone today why almost a third of mobile phone users across Europe choose an iPhone and they’re almost certainly going to say it’s because of its design and usability. Yet, just 20 years ago, Apple was in a sorry state. Stocks were worth just $6 as the company teetered on the edge of bankruptcy. However, with a product portfolio that’s forward-looking and more responsive to market demands than Boris Johnson, Apple’s design seems to have transformed its prospects.

Apple isn’t the only brand that can attribute its longevity and modern-day success to smart design and creative thinking. Burberry was floundering as consumers saw the once iconic brand as the domain of cheap knock-offs sold on street corners. However, some clever repositioning with the magic of Emma Watson, an injection of posh from Mrs Beckham, and a few tweaks to key lines soon saw sales rise by over 27% and new stores opening around the world.

Whilst both Apple and Burberry used product redesign for improved aesthetics, the benefits of product design aren’t just skin deep. Successful products respond to what the market wants, and this goes well beyond appearances, taking into account features, functions and reliability.

One example of this was Harley Davidson – the most reliable motorcycle in the world. In the early 1980’s, the company was $90 million in debt and couldn’t convince any financial institution to bail them out. Their only option was to go back to basics.

Product redesign, centred around improving the quality of the motorcycles, enabled Harley Davidson to claw themselves out of their desperate situation to become one of today’s greatest brand success stories immortalised in songs by Jethro Tull, Meatloaf and Billy Joel.

With so many examples of how the brand design and creative process has single-handedly improved the fate of these businesses, it seems clear that the power of product design is immense, if, and only if, it’s embraced as a process and is empowered to drive these organisations from the inside out.

If you would like to discuss this, please contact us on or call on +44 (0)118 988 1100

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