Good Design Is Good Business

What makes a business stand out from the crowd. Great service? Great products? Great values? Great customer service? It’s most definitely all of these things, but what attracts customers in the first place?

Great design does.

To explain why style is crucial if you want to elevate your substance, I need to tell you about an event that took place around 70 years ago.

Olivetti typewriters and IBM

For anyone unfamiliar with an Olivetti typewriter, give them a quick Google after reading this blog. Their shape and colour range are so iconic, you’re bound to recognise them. Olivetti, like other successful brands, has moved with the times and now manufactures tablets, smartphones and the like. But their strapline is a stark reminder of their mission that has remained a constant; ‘Design Meets Technology’.

For me to explain the connection with the Olivetti typewriters and IBM won’t you join me in a stroll down New York’s Fifth Avenue? Oh, yeah and imagine we’re in the early 1950s too.

It was down this very avenue in the Big Apple that IBM’s president, Thomas J Watson Jnr, first noticed the machines. He saw that the Olivetti store had placed the typewriters outside for passers-by to try them out. The bright, sleek designs were eye catching and stopped people going about their business.

Watson Jnr was also bowled over by the brightly lit, modern interior of the shop. Everything about this brand was the opposite of his own experience. IBM’s offices were grey and grab and their products were dull and boxy.

While IBM were, and remain, leaders in the manufacture of technology, it was on this day that Thomas Jnr triggered a change, a change that would massively accelerate the success of the company.

Along came the first ever Corporate Design Programme

After Watson Jnr’s epiphany moment, he appointed an architect and expert in industrial design to create a look that would combine everything that IBM do and represent. It was more than to promote a consistent brand look, it was to encapsulate IBM’s culture, cutting-edge products, management, operations, buildings – just about everything.

The talented and forward-thinking individual that took on this challenge was Eliot Noyes, to work alongside him he brought in some famous names: Charles and Ray Eames, Paul Rand and Isamu Noguchi. Noyes was a self-confessed curator of corporate character and said, “It does seem to be a part of the role of the designer to help identify this character, and then express it in terms of the most meaningful goals and the highest ideas of the company and in the broadest context of our society and economy.”

The impact that Noyes and his team had on the company was staggering. As a result, IBM became the company to beat. It got noticed. It delivered what it stood for in abundance.

Achieving style, substance and purpose

Watson Jnr remained an advocate of style as well as substance, and in 1973 when he was asked to speak at the University of Pennsylvania, he declared that, “good design is good business.” This has to be one of the greatest lessons for all business owners and marketing professionals.

When designing a brand look and feel, it’s clear that it’s not just about decoration, aesthetics or simply doing something different than the competition. It’s about fully understanding every element of a business. Ultimately, it’s about making things better.

Here’s how we can help

We’ve been helping businesses stand out from the crowd for longer than we care to remember with impactful designs and content that perfectly articulates their unique messages.

Over the decades myself and my team have used our design knowledge, skills and experience to echo the ‘good design is good business’ concept. For every brand’s look and tone of voice we capture the heart and soul of the company. We consider every element from the imagery all the way through to the right emotional tone that is sure to resonate with their target audience.

And when our clients are consistent with their brand design, they find that their social media accounts, website, and advertising campaigns turns heads, invites people in to explore some more, and converts them into loyal customers.

Is your brand design working hard for you? If not, feel free to get in touch.

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