Businesses are increasingly becoming design-led, and this is the most significant source of competitive advantage. They are creating end-to-end experiences for their customers by taking an integrated view of their customers’ journeys and intertwining the products and services around them.

Common traits of Design Led companies

Design-led companies are customer-obsessed. They see themselves as one with their customers and their DNA is built around this. They exhibit these common traits: 

  1. Design to Express
    Businesses use design as a strategic tool to express their brand’s core purpose, mission, and beliefs. They use eye-catchy designs that create an emotional connection with their customers. It creates awe and desire for their product or service. It makes the customer feel valued. Such businesses also use design as a tool to connect with their employees and other stakeholders.
  2. Integrated and Delightful Customer Experience
    Consumers in the digital age are motivated by convenience, personalization, and instant gratification. Design-led businesses strive to create seamless and delightful customer experiences across all touchpoints. They concentrate their efforts on improving the customer experience rather than the product or service.
  3. Culture of Continuous innovation 
    Continuous innovation is the only way companies stay relevant. Design-led companies experiment, collaborate and are in a state of constant evolution to build better products and services. They take an iterative approach to innovation to challenge the status quo.

Building the design-led culture

A design-led culture is both desirable and necessary. It is a moving target that is not set in stone. Organizations need to understand and align themselves with the vision and mission of the organization. A complete alignment will help make easy design and product decisions.

Building a design-led culture

Building such a culture doesn’t just happen overnight. Transforming to this end state is not a one-day activity. It is time-consuming and involves making changes, one at a time. A design-led organization will have the following attributes:  A mindset to discover the right problem, an assumption to identify the wrongs’ more than the right, A focus on identifying and measuring the business impact, and built on sound principles of people-centric Design. Such a design focuses on maximizing value to all stakeholders and the business.

 Organizations can start doing the following to build a design culture.

  1. Create a role of Chief Design Officer or Vice President of Design Strategy. Successful organizations empower the CDO with a seat in the C-suite, with the backing of the CEO. The CDO should have a say in the design and execution of the business strategy.
  2. Make designers core members of agile teams. They should be actively contributing to design of experience development across the entire customer journey. The insights of such designers would prove valuable to the whole organization. 
  3. Create a customer journey map and use human-centered design research techniques to interact with customers and uncover pain points and opportunities to delight. This provides a unique opportunity to create solutions rather than push pixels in pursuit of a trivial visual perfection.
  4. Create an inclusive culture that allows collaboration and share ideas that would benefit everyone in the organization. 

In conclusion, to be a market leader, it is important to build a culture of Design Excellence where people feel comfortable trying out new things and encourage learning from failure. Every employee should be mentored on design-driven principles and empowered to deliver design-centric solutions effectively.

The author, Priyank Kapadia, Head of Digital Practice at Accolite Digital.

The article has been originally published in DQ Channels.

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