Great design, as we all know, has a powerful impact on a brand's identity and creating memorable user experiences - this is undisputed. Albeit, many people appear to overlook the opportunity that design provides to strategically differentiate a product or service from other rivals.
Personally speaking, I think the traditional marketing mix variables (elements which businesses use to successfully position themselves in the market) should be updated, and be referred to as the "4 Ps and 2 Ds" - i.e. product, price, promotion, place, distribution, and design.
To further enforce this line of reasoning, here is how design can be leveraged for successful brand differentiation in two significant areas.
1) The architecture of information
Design plays an important role in the way data is organised and structured, which in turn, influences consumer behavior. This is especially true in this era of big data, where there's so much information out there and there are so many things competing for our attention.
Your brand is much more inclined to delight and actively engage customers if the data is presented in a humane and thoughtful way - rather than if it is just “dumped” (either on a website or a product packaging).
So whether it's through Venn diagrams, pie-charts, infographics, or 3D animation, design is an excellent tool to distinctly convey an idea and information about a person, place or thing.
2) Workflows and Onboarding
These entities provide another avenue for differentiation using design. It can be used to rethink the number of steps/actions that your customers need to undergo in order to complete a task.
When you hear consumers complain about a product that was hard to use or a website that was difficult and confusing to navigate, the identifiable culprit is usually a poorly-designed workflow.
Bottom line: it means that no one took the time and effort to think through the onboarding workflow.
So what is onboarding and why is it important?
Onboarding is critical because it is basically the end user’s first impression of your product.If this initial interaction is negative (i.e. when a customer says something like “This product looks complicated" or "The setup time takes too long") you can be rest assured that you've lost them - they're off to look for another similar product/service that can provide them with a clearer and simpler solution.
Smart brands are now making strategic investments in design so as to ensure simple workflows and positive onboarding experiences.
This hopefully acts a reminder to designers, brand managers and business owners of the importance of design in carving a niche in today's oversaturated market.
Written by David Fastuca @Locomote