Sucker for Good Design
We live in a world and in a society that appreciates and expects beauty and pleasing aesthetics. As culture and technology progresses the demand for thoughtful, intentional design has increased. I am speaking somewhat philosophically, but the reality remains that society appreciates good design, which in turn captures attention. So, what is good design and why is it important to your business?
Society appreciates good design, which in turn captures attention
Apple is a prime example. In the late 1990’s Apple Computer was struggling. Sales were down and the company lacked vision and focus for the future. The board was able to convince Steve Jobs to come back and take the reigns after a decade-long hiatus. Steve knew the importance of design and beauty. He also knew the importance behind that beauty had to be a product that was functional and worked to the consumers expectations. He understood the balance between form and function.
Jony Ive, Apple’s Chief Design Officer, has been the man behind Apple’s simple, sophisticated design since 1996. He is regarded as one of the world’s most respected designers. He stated recently, “We have always thought about design as being so much more than just the way something looks. It's the whole thing: the way something works on so many different levels. Ultimately, of course, design defines so much of our experience.” I couldn’t agree more.
Drawing upon the example of Apple and being a life-long observer of design, I would say good design is simplicity that creates a memory and a feeling of satisfaction. So let’s look at this more closely.
Good design is simplicity that creates a memory and a feeling of satisfaction
Why simplicity? I could ask a very basic question, who likes complex? Not me! Simplicity is clean and easily reproduced. Simple, clean design emotes feelings of easiness and freshness. Who wants something that is complex and stale? Simplicity's biggest attribute is ability to be remembered.
As humans our life is a collection of memories, both good and bad. Memory has created a whole career field known as "branding." When you look at the logos above, you may remember that bad encounter you had at Starbucks with that barista named Levi who didn't understand how you didn't know how to pay with Apple Pay... I digress. Or that moment when you spilled your sweet tea all over your waffle fries and chicken sandwich and one of the chick-fil-a workers replaced it in full, saying "my pleasure" when you said thank you. These clean, simple designs bring back memories that will lead you to take action or no action.
It may not be a brand at all, it may be an architectural design or the design of a product. Simplicity and memory work hand-in-hand to create experiences that won't be forgotten.
Simplicity and memory work hand-in-hand to create experiences that won't be forgotten
I'm a Seinfeld fanatic. I've watched every episode multiple times and always watch it when it comes on TBS weekdays at 4... again, I digress. I often see myself as George Castanza, although I still have my hair. George always wanted to be an architect, as have I. I have a strong appreciation for great architecture and master planning. There is something completely satisfying about seeing a bare piece of land developed into something extraordinary.
Recently, in our community, just outside Nashville, we had a dilapidated, dead mall. 86 acres of prime real estate in our community. A respected development firm out Charlotte, North Carolina redeveloped/redesigned the property into a beautiful, functional and prosperous retail center. The simplicity and intentionality of their design helped create a satisfaction in our community that had been long withheld.
When good design is achieved, people reflect their satisfaction in their attention, patronage and their consumption. Ultimately good design is good business, however good design cannot replace bad business. Remember the old lipstick on a pig analogy? Well that fits here. The core functionality of your product or service must be strong, if not, no amount of great design will ever compensate this shortfall.
The core functionality of your product or service must be strong, if not, no amount of great design will ever compensate this shortfall.
By implementing strong design elements into your business, you are creating opportunities for your audience to appreciate and respect your brand, in turn choosing you over your competitor. Furthermore, as a byproduct, you are enhancing our social and cultural fabric by making something beautiful, that benefits society as a whole. As I tell folks all the time... I'm a sucker for good design!