Published on February 17th, 2009 | by Leah Edwards1
How Design Can Make Your Green Business Matter Even More
I couldn’t help but be curious about a book called “Do You Matter?” It is a great question for an entrepreneur to ask. And the book’s subtitle “How Great Design Will Make People Love Your Company” is compelling. Doesn’t sustainability make our companies matter? Doesn’t our value of the environment make us matter? Is design really THE thing?
The authors, Robert Brunner (once a product designer for Apple and now a principal in the design firm Pentagram) and Stewart Emery (author of “Success Built to Last” and a leader in the Human Potential Movement) did not just rely on their own experience, but also relate numerous case studies about what other companies have done right in developing design-driven (and customer needs focused) organizations.
As you can see on the authors’ site, they are not just talking about package design and logos. The briefest synopsis of the book is, “We’re talking about design as a total concept—not just about how a product looks, but how the product operates, how it sounds, and how it feels. Also included in this idea of design is the quality of your purchase experience, of what happens when you actually open up the box, how you start to feel, and what all this communicates to you. And of course, there is the chain of events through which you became aware of the product. This is part of the design connection too—what all those touch points mean to you as a customer.”
One point I particularly liked is, “If you have your own brand-driven approach to design, others can’t really take this from you. People can try to copy it, but they they become merely derivative. If you do a good job at it, you have something that becomes a very strong and defensible strategy… when a customer purchases your product or pays for your service, they feel they have joined something.”
If you do read “Do You Matter?” check out pages 82-84 for an interesting story about how Interface (makers of Flor carpet tiles) came up with sustainable carpets by looking for ways to solve customer needs and not specifically as a search for ways to become a green company.
I also recommend a related book called “Relevance”, which I reviewed last year, and the two books have a lot in common. An important point in both books is that a business needs to live its brand throughout sourcing, operations, marketing, customer service, etc. A good and consistent customer experience is where it is at. If you are going to be green and/or sustainable, make sure the values are spread throughout your staff and operations. But also make sure that customers want what you have to offer and that they feel good doing business with you.
And how this all relates to design is what Brunner and Emery call “portals to experience”. Design the product, interface or marketing to be very appealing and then deliver through well thought-out performance, quality and service.