In our complex world, businesses are seeking answers in Strategic Design.
It’s the future implication of our ever-changing and evolving world today where strategic design plays a vital role.
What is strategic design?
Strategic Design is the use of design to solve technology, business and customer needs. In our never-ending cycle of ever-changing business objectives, strategic design is unlike our traditional design, in Strategic Design the focus is also on the future implications, outcomes and a bigger contextualization of the vision of the brand. Perception, conception and action are three essential pillars of this. Where traditional design methodologies are focusing on providing solutions to immediate consumer needs in our world of constant innovation and digital trends, strategic design offers a more integrated approach to build future solutions based on the intersection of business objectives and user needs.
As Paul Rand said, ‘Design is the silent ambassador of your brand’, a brand’s marketing communication (social media design, ads, website design, user interface, posters/ in-store branding etc.) should effectively take stock of the brand’s identity, values, vision, positioning and more. A brand strategy needs to thrive, and their design project needs strategy to thrive as well.
A fine example of this is Kodak company, a legacy imaging technology brand. They started as a manufacturer of photographic film and switched to digital camera, digital printing, packaging and communication systems in the present day. They survived the wave of change with due credits to John Rheinfrank, a design consultant with Fitch Design. John helped Kodak to see how its range of disposable cameras could not replace the traditional camera, but can be marketed to a specific audience needs, like underwater photography. A simple shift in focus from a problem to a market opportunity is how Kodak stayed afloat for years. This is Strategic Design.
Here is how Strategic Design is aiding brands:
In strategic design, building a visual is not the sole objective. It also encompasses everything to do with marketing strategies that help in outreach to the general audience and potential buyers/ customers.
A fine example of this is the Apple Inc.’s creative rollout of iPod iTunes – an ecosystem built over years, rather than an overwhelming amount of stuff to launch all at once.
Social Media strategy
Trends are all the social media sphere is about. Never before in the TV ad industry has a video garnered 25 million views on the same day aiding a product to be sold out in less than 24 hours. There is nothing new about how social media has a strong influence on our daily lives. In this context, for Strategic Design to be workable, multiple teams should chalk out a plan on how to take the maximum advantage of social platforms and gain control of public narrative on their brand and build their own brand perception.
The BooHoo Group is a great example of this. This fashion retailer has been able to have a 45% growth in sales in the last quarter of 2020, midst of lockdown only by engaging influencers as the central attraction value of its social media strategy.
Research and data driven solutions
The core of Strategic Design is based on digging deeper beyond what seems to be the surface level problem, it focuses on underlying issues which are not time based and finding time-defying solutions. The only way to achieve this is via intensive research, data points, gathering information and analysing the data at hand. This research and development based on data is how brands like McDonald’s and Starbucks have been able to survive, in other words it’s called adaptation.
Intensive market research, focused customer studies, data collection in large numbers and agility to stay in demand is how brands find brilliant innovative solutions. Martin Roll, a world-renowned brand strategist is the key name behind the success of Starbucks and many other brands. Key pivot for the brand was when Martin helped them envision and build a brand that is not solely about coffee but also into other areas of beverages, food products, relatable gift items. They evolved their logo design to incorporate these changes and products. This pivot saw removing words like coffee and Starbucks from the logo.
Also read: Change in work pattern for designer by 2025
Appealing to all senses
With growing cut-throat competition it is becoming increasingly difficult to make sales conversation with marketing campaigns. Strategic Design in this context works on appealing to all the senses of their potential customers. This is to inculcate a positive feeling about the brand, evoking emotions to the brand’s story or products rather than simply putting posters or ads.
Toys “R” Us gave us a fine example of this with their comeback. Their strategic campaign of ’I am a Toys “R” Us kid’ struck a chord with children across the country and left most parents with no option but to re-visit the then struggling store.
User Centric design/ Humanity centric design
The ultimate goal, also why Strategic design is emerging and adopted widely is that design is focused on the user’s future, the overall environment and global future.
Old Spice deodorant brand, as an example, around for over 8 decades has seen many re-brandings. In there one of the most notable re-branding changes, not only did they work on the brand identity and its marketing approach, but also addressed the issue raised by the consumers over certain type of stains left by the product.
To conclude, Strategic Design helps a brand to obtain insights, raise as many questions as they can, identify goals to achieve to help build campaigns that make their product uniquely identifiable. The process helps align design vision, values and principles with the overall goals and values of the brand. It offers you the best communication practices that have been data driven conclusions and ways to successfully implement the same.
Strategic Design helps to redefine how a problem is approached with practical skills along with art and design knowledge that helps to deploy feasible future-oriented solutions. And to thrive in our ever-evolving world, your brand should not simply predict change but also drive it.