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Designers need to “get” the essence of the brand. “For designers to build a great brand, they have to understand it,” Hill points out. “You need to understand its history, its values, and what it means to people. Can you imagine designing the latent Jeep without understanding the brand archetype of what it means for a product to be a Jeep?”
Design needs to be strategic from the outset. “For design to have a major impact, it’s got to get involved at the strategic level,” said Hill. “It can’t be an afterthought or superficial trappings to be put on post product creation. Samsung’s brand became powerful only after they put a Chief Design Officer in place and made it a priority for the company.”
Integrate design early in the process to drive innovation and create solutions. “Good designers approach design as an opportunity to ask questions,” says Doucet. “Solution generation starts by questioning initial assumptions. Rather than ask myself ‘How should I design Widget X?’ I need to be asking ‘Do we really need Widget X or is there a better solution to this customer problem? So a designer needs be there at the beginning and be connected to the decision-makers. For example, at Braun, Dieter Rams sat across from the owner of the company.”
Don’t overdesign. “With the increasing emphasis on design in the world today, it’s important to avoid the ‘over-designed syndrome,'” says Hill. “A simple, well-thought-through, authentic design is often the best. Everything doesn’t need to be redesigned; sometimes what we have in hand is better than what we seek. It’s not all about being different; it’s about being better. If Levi Strauss wanted me to redesign the patch on the back of their jeans, I would look in their archives for the original.”
Use design to continually reinvent the brand. “Some folks think they know branding,” says Doucet. “Figured it out long ago. ‘Hi. I’m someone you’ll like. You’ll know it’s me because I always wear a red polo shirt (pantone 185 to be exact) with blue pants and a yellow belt.’ You can’t think that way today. Brands need to allow themselves to constantly update, and be much more fluid. Look at Google; they morph their logo for special occasions. Constant change is a big part of who they are.”
Use design to make a difference. “Design can make a difference in how we live,” says Brunner. “Take sustainability. A lot of what is done in that area is ‘making bad, better.’ We’re taking wasteful things and seeing how we can make them not so bad. We need to start thinking about how we can use our design tools to encourage people to change. You do that by making ‘doing better’ also be fun, interesting and (importantly) the path of least resistance. And you do it in an encouraging, not controlling, way. Design needs to do that in order to reach a larger audience than just the small group that is socially driven.

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