The Designful Company

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A few years ago I was introduced to a fantastic book called The Brand Gap. Since then I have been making my way through Marty Neumeier’s other fantastic books. A while back I read Zag and have been picking up a book here and there between classes. I just finished The Designful Company and am very excited to start The 46 Rules of Genius.

As usual The Designful Company did not disappoint. These books are fantastic because they’re written in a causal tone and designed to be read on a short flight. They also come in very handy when working with executives on a project. Our entire staff read The Brand Gap when working on our branding study a few years ago. They’re small books, but pack quite a punch.

So, without ruining the reading experience for you, I wanted to share a few things from The Designful Company that I found very valuable.

First, let’s start with what differentiates a “designful” company from the rest.

DesignfulCompany

 

Next, it’s important to understand why this type of atmosphere is essential to business success. Neumeier talks about a “designful” company as one that can unleash their creative collaboration skills and tackle a company’s most “wicked” problems. What’s a wicked problem, you ask? “A wicked problem is a puzzle so persistent, pervasive, or slipper that it can seem insoluable.”

Neumeier discusses how imperative it is to redefine the word “design” and think of it not as a function of the marketing or graphics office, but rather viewing everyone who tries to change an existing situation to an improved one as a designer. Being a “designful” company means creating a culture with innovation at its foundation, rather than trying to make innovation something that a company does.

The same can be said for a brand. Too many time I’ve heard companies say “we’re going to take 20 minutes to talk about branding” instead of making it the core of their organization and integrating it into all of their daily activities.

When I talk to other marketers inside and outside of higher education, I find one concern always shows up – how to get buy in from people “outside” the marketing department. How can we break down silos in order to enhance collaboration and increase productivity?   That’s the battle of IMC, right? How do we integrate all of our efforts and make a customer experience so compelling that our customers tattoo our logo on their bicep? (That might be going a little bit far, but you have to aim high.)

I think that creating a designful company helps to break down those silos. Again, it doesn’t fall into the “something you do” category, but rather the “who you are” category.  In The Designful Company Neumeier talks about connecting those silos and exploring opportunities for “cross-fertilization and creative collaboration.” The most exciting idea was that positions such as Chief Brand Officer, Chief Design Officer, or Chief Innovation Officer could be titles that those of us in this program could one day hold.

He shared the importance of adding a seat at the table that helps facilitate this collaboration and way of thinking. I am not a fan of creating absurd titles just to differentiate a company, but that’s not what this is. Creating these types of positions are paramount to enhancing a company’s culture and yielding the greatest productivity and innovation. Neumeier said, “While revolution must be lead from the top, it rarely starts at the top.”

I could write a few thousands words on the importance of creating a designful company, but I’ll share a few last words from Marty Neumeier and encourage you to pick up a copy of the book. If you do, let me know what you think!

  • Companies don’t fail because they choose the wrong course-they fail because they can’t imagine a better one
  • In a company with an innovative culture, radical ideas are the norm, not the exception
  • When the left brain and right brain work together, a third brain emerges that can do what neither brain can do alon
  • Designful leaders reject the tyranny of “or” in favor of the genius of “and”
  • Design drives innovation; innovation powers brand; brand builds loyalty; and loyalty sustains profits. If you want long-term profits, start with design.

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