Yes good design makes a difference

I know that this is going to sound self promoting and in a sense it is. However, it’s not just about me or what I do but what design as a profession can do. In a recent article(Study: Good Design Is Good For Business) the excellent online content provider Co.Design from Fast company highlighted a new study that found the top performing companies on the S&P 500 all had design as a key part of their brand strategy. Now to me I don’t find this very surprising at all but to many people I think it would come as a shock. I feel the main reason for this is that design in general is viewed as some form of mystic cerbial art that can only be understood by those whom make it, almost akin to witch craft. Well in reality this is very far from the truth. We all appreciate good design whether we notice it or not is another matter. It is quite often said that good design should go unnoticed, that it is so thoughtlfully put togheter that it blends seamlessly with a persons life. Through our recacnintion of good design we reward (generally with our purchasing power and brand loyalty) companies that embrace and promote good design.


One of the most famous examples of this in the last 20 years of course has been Apple. I won’t dwell on a story that almost everyone knows but lets just take a visual walk through of the first iPod vs it’s competition at the time:


First Gen iPod

Original Diamond Rio Player


There are clearly many design advantages to the iPod versus the original Diamond Rio. What you don’t see is the thousands of things that were left off. The goal of good design is to break things down to the core elements. To effectively communicate what it is you are doing or your product can do. What happened many times over with the multitude of competitors that entered the market space after the iPod was released was that they forgot to focus on simple design principles. Instead they got caught up in what I refer to as Shotgun design. That is where you try to be all things to all people at once. This has been and will always be a recipe for failure. Design success comes from clear vision. What are you trying to achieve, how will you achieve this and most importantly whom are you designing for.


I can say with a great certainty that all of those companies noted in the study refereed to above have an underlying design principle behind the decisions that they make regarding their brands and products. This clear vision needs to be lead and breed by an individual or group that has the clear goal of good design principles as the driving force.