Design should be strategic to deliver a return on investment
From the desk of Dermot, November 2014 In recent months there has been a noticeable difference in the kind of project we have been asked to work on at MAXX, the change being fewer traditional ‘one-off’ projects and a greater emphasis on strategic design solutions. This is an excellent development for us because we are seen by many of our clients as strategic design partners, delivering integrated campaigns of work, which helps their businesses become more successful. Strategic design:
- analyses and defines the problem,
- comes up with an approach or approaches,
- identifies opportunities for action,
- enables us to deliver a complete result…
- which can be measured.
Strategic design is all about ‘crafting decision-making’, which works best when our design work is integrated into the ‘business DNA’ of our clients. We become an extension of their business and our work is critical in delivering their plans and results from a business perspective. The change in our clients’ appreciation of our skills creates new opportunities for our designers to come up with a strategic approach and takes them from conventional designer – that is, responding to a brief – to strategic designer, delivering a solution. I believe that a strategic designer must have three core skills:
Clients perhaps only see the parts rather than the whole of a complex problem. An integrated design approach helps reveal and manage the complex web of relationships – between people, processes, organisations and products for example – to provide a complete picture.
Today, the challenges businesses face every day have reached a new level of complexity. The wide range of media now used to promote a business’ products and services makes coming up with a successful solution even more difficult. Because a strategic designer is fluent in visual communication, he or she uses this skill as an important way to communicate complex concepts – which would be difficult or impossible to explain in text and numbers alone. By the way, my graphic design degree in 1970 was titled exactly that – ‘visual communication through graphic design’ which I find incredible that it is as relevant today as it was felt to be over 40 years ago! Some things are timeless.
Ideas are relatively easy to come by. However a holistic plan, which implements the right creative ideas is not. Clearly in this day and age the emphasis on ‘design thinking’ has powerfully demonstrated the value of applying creativity in a business context. It is no coincidence that one of MAXX’s messages is ‘business through design’. But successful design is not just about creative thinking. It also involves successful implementation and ensuring that the integrity of the main creative idea remains intact during that process. A strategic designer should be involved through the duration of a campaign, providing regular expertise and feedback to identify, test and then deliver successful solutions. So, come on world, bring on the next strategic challenge, our designers can handle anything you can throw at us!