Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Designing the way to success.

               Much has been said about the importance of product design in Apple's success. Every product they've designed in the last few years has been embraced because of the way it looks and feels --- and the way it makes you look and feel. And yes, "embraced" is the right verb to describe it.

               Design is so important today that many business schools are offering joint programs with schools of art and design.

                In Lisa Johnson's book "Mind Your Xs and Ys", she devotes a chapter to this subject of brand candy. She talks about how, when Motorola introduced the Razr cellphone a few years ago --- it was super thin and sharp looking, with a hidden antenna --- it achieved the company's sales projections for the entire life of the product in just three months. You know the story of the iPod, the iPhone and the iPad, so you're probably not surprised.

                Strange as it sounds, design actually creates relationships for us with products and their makers. Motorola instantly went from ordinary to cool. That's because we humans are sensory beings. We gravitate to things that look good, smell good, feel good, sound good. And we like things that work intuitively.

                Actually, good design sends out messages for us. It's a badge we wear, saying we have good taste and we appreciate wonderful things. Somehow, Macs are wonderful things. PCs are equipment.

                This kind of good design doesn't have to cost more than ordinary design, but you have to rethink everything in terms of the customer. Starbucks, for example, redesigned the neighborhood coffee shop into a place where we like to hang out. It's gone from a place to an experience. The names of the coffees, the language of the baristas, and more. Good design conquered all.

                 Procter and Gamble redesigned mops into Swiffers. OPI's nail polish names make them forms of  self-expression, as Revlon did before it with "Fifth Avenue Red" and "Fire and Ice". Rethinking and design have transformed cereals into portable candy bars. There are bandages we can spray on. And television shows we don't need TV sets for, just computers.

                  It's what comes from the desire to stand out, rather than fit in. Want to discuss this some more? Meet you at Starbucks.


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