Can Good Design Solve Business Problems?

Can Good Design Solve Business Problems?

Good design is a whole lot more than art.  I believe good design is good problem solving. This concept rests at the heart of Corporate Images’ goal to create smart solutions that achieve powerful business results for our clients.

A recent Fast Company magazine article stated “there is broad recognition that a well designed business—one that delivers customer delight—has a significant competitive advantage.” They went on to say, “It can be argued that the best CEOs are effectively designers—grappling with ambiguous challenges, probing for creative solutions—even though few would accept that moniker.”

We agree.

Exciting design to be really good must solve a problem or create a bold new opportunity even if it’s ahead of its time, or initially rejected. In reality, consumers will rarely alert us to opportunities they have not yet seen. The best designers can divine those opportunities from the gaps in user experience. It starts with a big idea.

But what if this big idea bucks convention. Like when Apple retail stores first envisioned their Genius Bar. This key element of every Apple store soaks up 20 percent of the floor sales staff. Originally when this idea was bounced off then CFO Michael Kramer, he first refused to consider it. Today Apple boasts the highest sales per square foot of any retailer. Never hesitate to reconsider a great idea.

But, what if the big idea is ahead of its time? Leonardo da Vinci, whose life crossed the Fifteenth and Sixteenth centuries, designed the helicopter and tank long before the technology of the day could actually construct them.

The brilliant architect Frank Lloyd Wright designed large window panels of Pyrex glass tubes for the Johnson Wax building in the late 1930s that could be built, but leaked profusely when exposed to rain and snow. Later technology caught up and the windows could be retrofitted so they didn’t leak.

Apple’s introduction of the Cube flopped in 2000. But because Apple engineers learned about curved plastics, touch switches, special glass and other materials from the Cube, it led to the technology advances used in the iPod to the iPad.

Consider every “flop” as just a practice round, another iteration of your eventual successful achievement.

Do great ideas come out of thin air, or from musing over the contours of a wine glass? Maybe. Sometimes. But, we have found that more often than not, a big idea comes from following a process and can be arrived at in steps. The first step is to clearly define the problem or state the opportunity. At Corporate Images we use an array of tools that help us get to the heart of the design solution. One of the most powerful is a dialog producing “creative learning session.” It allows us to quickly assess all the elements of the client’s problem or challenge so we can generate the creative solution.

We then can restate the problem succinctly in a creative brief, which puts the creative team on point with the same understanding. It is only then that the creative juices can safely be set loose to arrive at the most novel yet results laden solution possible.


Alan Bagg helps manufacturers boost sales by getting more mileage from their current marketing budget.

Alan is happy to entertain more discussion via email or phone. Reach him at abagg@corporate-images.com or 262.633.7772. Or follow him on twitter @alanbagg. Find more information on Alan at his LinkedIn profile.

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