In today’s hypercompetitive, hyper saturated, hyper disruptive business world, long dissipated is the illusion that products can succeed based on functionality alone, or even based on functionality in conjunction with visual appeal. When considering product design, all too often companies focus too heavily on the aesthetic without fully understanding that for design to truly act as a product differentiator, it must factor in more than just the look of the product, but also how it is experienced, how it makes consumers feel, what associations are created in peoples’ minds. Only when products can truly stand out in terms of all these qualities, will they rise above competitors to the level of Apple, Disney, Nike or others.
The article below “It’s not just decoration: Design is a competitive advantage”, traces the roots of design as a differentiator back to the 1920s with the eclipse of Ford’s automotive market share from 60% in 1921, to just 10% by 1927, thanks in no small part to a drop in Model-T sales in favour of GM’s more design oriented and progressive offerings. It then links back to current day design requirements, realities that companies must understand in order to achieve sustained competitive advantage. These realities include a need to understand and be committed to the user experience, and the inclusion of a total design focus at every step of the way in order to “build a seamless experience that keeps customers coming back.”
Design really is such a critical component of how things are received in today’s world, and this article is definitely an interesting and important read, even for individuals removed from the day-to-day scope of tangible product innovation and design.