It has been said over and over again; as technology progresses, it is changing the game, fueling the kind of new innovations that are currently driving the market. The assertion that technology has lifted entrepreneurship, startups, and new businesses of all sizes to new heights is mostly true, but an oft-forgotten but highly crucial aspect of any new business in this day in age is the quality of its design.
Product design has always been a fairly important part of business that offer material goods, but today more than ever, design has risen to stand on equal ground with the practical concept and actual functionality of a product. It is surprising that it took us this long to get to a point where design has become so important; designers are really responsible for figuring out how a human will interface with a product, beginning with visuals and considering details down to the form and feel of the materials. If a designer does their job just right, the result is generally far better than simply selling on the idea of the product itself.
And so it has come to pass that design has been integrated with not just the creation of a product, but its marketing as well. The aesthetic of the product often informs the look and message of the print or video advertisement that promotes it, the language of the copy that describes it, and the mindset of the consumers who covet it. In the modern marketplace, a new product simply cannot succeed without strong design. Furthermore, exceptionally good design alone can help a less-than-optimal product succeed regardless of the quality of its functionality.
Customers are unconsciously far more design-minded than in previous generations. Through increased exposure to media, especially online, the public’s perceptions of innovation are inextricably linked with design.
Braun was among the first companies to actively bring design to the forefront of its products and marketing. The company’s designs for some of its early electric appliances and devices have shaped trends in the industry for more than half a century. Many have even half-jokingly accused Apple, the undisputed current king of product design, for stealing Braun’s design aesthetics in the creation of some of its most popular product offerings. But Apple isn’t the only company to see value in putting design forward. Its largest competitor, Microsoft, is preparing to launch its answer to the successful iPad, a line of “Surface” tablets, powered by the new Windows 8, a particularly design-oriented operating system. This pair’s current strategies shine a light on the connection between design and business in the current economy. The most obvious lesson is that design-forward products stoke consumer interest and demand higher prices and higher competition.
As our consumer culture becomes even more design oriented, look for design departments’ budgets to increase and the conversation between designers and marketers to intensify. If businesses can manage to compliment the latest innovations with brilliant designs, the future looks bright.