Making Tangible the Intangible

Design is a prerogative condition for business performance. What matters for a company is not only the product but also the experience and engagement that a certain investment can determine for the costumers. Good design reflects the mission of the company and it’s embodiment of that concept.

‘Design no longer belongs to designers. It is a process by which every aspect of an organisation including, but not just, its products and services, look and feel. […] Design is much more a way of doing things, rather than of just ‘things’.’ (Turner, 2013).

By definition, a business model ‘describes the rationale of how an organisation creates, delivers and captures value’, and design contributes in enhancing that value. Good design can positively contribute to an organisation’s business in terms of: creating and strengthening its identity; developing a durable impression in costumers’ memory and, therefore, loyalty towards the brand; distinguishing the company and its products from other competitors; establishing an effective marketing strategy through which the ethos of the company can be easily understood by the costumers; increasing the business performance (Simplio Web Studio, 2015).

Although design is sometimes still hardly recognised as a priority for business, the fact that good investments in design can add value and bring success and popularity to a company is evident. Henry Ford, for example, believed that ‘it is the product, not the business, that pays the wages’. It is the product, or the service, the result of the design process, the one that generates the means to survive and succeed. ‘Design is one of the critical business resources that can manifest a strategic idea. As such it can, if properly managed, make strategy tangible’ (Turner, 2013).

Not only design can contribute, through its action, to a single company but it can affect the entire world. An interesting case, in demonstration of the importance of design in terms of business, is The Body Shop’s global campaign held in 2009. A strong marketing strategy and visual identity, developed by the agency 300million, where used by the beauty company to spread awareness about the Stop Sex Trafficking of Children and Young Children, a global programme created in collaboration with NGO ECPAT, the international organisation for children’s right.

The campaign developed a clever strategy by which it managed to translate an inhuman crime into a positive message. ‘300million and The Body Shop’s in-house design team also worked together to create activation ideas around social media, active engagement with stars and celebrities, launch concepts for retail environments (for example, getting people to sit in windows and putting their own handprints on the windows to how their support), viral campaigns, digital media, PR and countless other activities’ (DBA Design Effectiveness Award 2012, 2011).

The Body Shop was able to raise funds through the selling of specifically designed products by which the company earned £1 million in profits and it managed to get more than 6.2 million of signatures on petition, inspiring governments from eight countries to make a change.

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