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Design as a force of integration

Of the many shared characteristics across the Best Global Brands, for those that are mastering Growth in a Changing World, the elevated role of design in the enterprise is fundamental.

41% of design-led organizations report higher market share.

70% report having a stronger or best-in-class digital experience. [1]

When design is brought up in the context of brand, it’s often assumed that it’s about aesthetic concern. While aesthetics remain a vital part of a brand, it cannot be isolated to what’s visible—it must be internalized by the organization and harnessed as a force for change and improvement.

As brands are experienced in micro moments in the hyper-fragmented Age of You, design can be a powerful force for unifying a brand’s experiences. It can make an instant impression and link moments in a way that’s both memorable and meaningful. Design ensures that every aspect of an organization’s brand is aligned, with little, if any, distinction between an organization’s business strategy and its customer experience.

91% of design-led companies list design as a critical component of customer experience.

85% listed design as a critical component of brand. [1]

With increasingly complex organizational demands, design becomes a force of integration. The fundamental advantages of having design hardwired into the organization bolsters the strength of the brand in key ways:

One is focus. Excellent design delivers both a coherent customer experience and an elegant roadmap for future growth.

One is clarity. Design provides a shared point of view on the ideal customer experience, allowing everyone in the organization to know how they can each impact that experience.

One is speed. Design can be harnessed to breed efficiency. Macro design principles can quickly become micro applications.

One is flexibility. Embedding design methodologies into the organization allows teams to reinvent processes that adjust to different contexts.

Design for the outside in and the inside out 

At a time of hyper-personalization, organizations must communicate with customers in a non-linear fashion. By understanding how people live and interact, organizations can structure themselves around their customers’ priorities. Design derives power from its role as mediator—accounting for the interest of the customer and the desires of the business equally.

Design for simplification and humanization

With hyper-fragmentation comes hyper-complexity. Rapidly shifting technologies and ever-changing customer demands create multifaceted, layered challenges for organizations. Design solves these complexities by rendering interactions with technologies and other complex systems simple, intuitive, and pleasurable for the organization and the customer.

Design for transformation and adaptation

Not all traditional organizations are built to handle continuous transformation. Fortunately, disruption and design go hand in hand. When introducing new ideas, design methodologies—such as validation and iteration—can help make the unknown comfortable by making ideas tangible and easier to socialize internally.

Design for structure and culture

Becoming a design-led organization requires both cultural and structural rigor. For some businesses, how to solve for the customer—including processes and tools —may require an overhaul. Design-led organizations are driven by empowered employees who are empathetic to their audiences, and who deliver what people need, instead of what the job requires.

Design is where a single touchpoint reflects the entire business, and where what’s left out is as considered as what stays in. Where the customer and the experience are one.

None of this means that design can’t be beautiful, but above all, it must be functional—it should balance beauty and utility, efficiency and emotion. Purity of design can’t be at the user’s expense. More than a lofty and provocative goal, design is an essential tool for building strong, agile, customer-centric organizations.


[1] “Design-Led Firms Win the Business Advantage” a commissioned study conducted by Forrester on behalf of Adobe, 2016.

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