an online conversation
about design management


Strategy

For a design studio there are two levels of strategy. The strategy needed to market the studio and the integration of design into client's strategy.


Developing a strategy for your studio

When we started out I believed that building a design business was all about knocking on doors and selling our services. You just set up a sales plan and headed out in every direction until you found some work. Read more...

Design-driven companies outperform

Over the past decade I have spent a considerable amount of time trying to devise a method that small studios can use to convince clients of the value of design.  Read more...

Develop a winning position for your studio

A position is a simple, credible story that can be summarized in one or two key words. It forms the basis of your design value proposition. It’s about owning a big idea in your marketplace. The most successful and best recognised companies have strong business positioning. Volvo owning 'safety' and Nike owning 'performance' illustrate this idea.  Read more...

Want new business? Get out of the building

If you’ve set up a design studio and you’re actively seeking new business with clients by selling them on the value of design, then you're a design entrepreneur.  Read more...


The agile design business

The concept of agility has been in use in software development since 2001 when a group of software developers produced the Manifesto for Agile Software Development. Since then this process has had a profound effect on the profitability and success of many software companies such as Microsoft and HP.  Read more...


Five steps to better client relationships

Robert Miller and Stephen Heiman developed the Buy-Sell Hierarchy, and explained it in their 2005 book, 'The New Successful Large Account Management'.

I have adapted the model to help design studios assess how their clients view them as a supplier. I explain this tool in the Building a business model for your studio workshop.  Read more...



Why marketers need designers

It’s amazing how many issues are common across studios of all sizes and locations. One of the consistent issues is that marketers don’t take designers seriously.   Read more...

marketing a design studio

32 ways to explain design value

More than 20 years ago we began doing design audits. We kicked off with a major project for an Australia wide hardware chain. The brief from the CEO was that we had to present something that was not too ‘arty farty’ because the store owners and the management were more about business than ‘arty farty stuff’.    Read more...

99designs is great for the design industry

I've spent a lot of time thinking about where our industry has come from and where it’s going. I wanted to offer a solution to the problem that seems to be dramatically changing the industry – I see this as the growth of transactional design.   Read more...

Empathy mapping: put yourself in your clients’ shoes

I think that the best way to convince a client about the value of design is to first understand what it is that motivates that client. This is where I use an empathy map. Read more...

Focus on measuring the benefit of design

The Design Ladder was developed by the Danish Design Centre (DDC) in 2003 as a tool to measure the level of design activity in Danish businesses. Read more...


Return on design investment

99 designs good for design


Explaining your value-add services

A few months ago I was invited to present to a group of ten design firms that had been granted funding to rethink their business. The studio owners were at a weekend intensive program with a host of business experts.  Read more...


What strategy is (and isn’t)

There is a growing trend for designers to add strategy as one of their services. There are many ways that designers define strategy and this allows them to make the claim. Read more...

Selling design strategy to clients

I have been developing series of workshops on design and strategy as a follow-on from The business of design publication. This has lead me to examine more closely what it is that we do when we claim to use design as part of our client’s business strategy. Read more...




So what is design integration?

Last year I attended a seminar on design integration. Some of my colleagues think that this is a term that is only used and understood in academic and government circles.  Read more...


Turning clients into brand-guided companies

According to recent research by Wolff Olins*, brand-guided companies significantly outperform their competitors.

The research showed that brand-guided companies achieved above industry average results with a return on equity of 19% against 8% for remaining players.  Read more...


Design thinking has failed

Design thinking has worn out its stay. There is so much hype about it and not enough definition of it. The business consultants who have tried to build design thinking systems have lost sight of the fuzzy logic that is at the core of how designers think. Read more...