When I attended an international business and industry conference a while back, I was pleasantly surprised to see and hear a great deal of interest in excellence in product design. I spoke with many CEOs of major rotational molders in the US and around the globe who were either hiring designers directly or seeking qualified consultants.
Many of the presentations, including the event’s keynote address, emphasized the importance of good design. It always plays an essential role in the development of the rotational molding industry. I have been writing about the importance of product design excellence for many years and have never seen as much interest as I did during this conference. There are many motivating factors that have contributed to this major surge. These include economic and trade conditions, market growth fluctuations, and many molders moving toward a proprietary line of higher profit products.
A creative design team will make a significant difference in a company’s profitability when properly managed and directed. This is especially true if the design team works closely with corporate marketing and strategic planning goals. These include the development of products that target growth markets based on a company’s major assets.
Well-organized brainstorming meetings can open new opportunities for a company when the product and industrial designers have an opportunity to collaborate with marketing and manufacturing specialist within a company. During these sessions, new ideas based on market opportunities and manufacturing capabilities can be proposed, visualized by a designer with sketches. This visualization process helps the group converge in a common direction. And it’s one that can be refined and eventually developed further as a profitable product or product line.
The Apple Illustration – Success by Product Design Excellence
Apple Computer is a classic example of a company whose corporate philosophy, tremendous success and long history as a leading world-class computer manufacturer are exclusively based on Steve Jobs’ relentless drive for award-winning designs. This obsession has been well documented in a recent interview with John Sculley who was CEO at Apple. (If you are interested, the complete interview is available online.)
Steve Jobs always focused on introducing products that not only perform well but more importantly, provide the user with a memorable experience. His attention to design quality is evident at every level starting with the initial product package and user interface to the minutest subtitles in the overall physical product. This consistency in maintaining a user-focused image for all of Apple’s products enabled the company to maintain a rock-solid product brand and loyal following of dedicated customers. What’s more, it is one of the most valuable public companies in the world.
Excellence in the design profession—including engineering design, medical product design or engineering design—goes beyond the basics of function and performance. These fundamental attributes are expected by the end-user as part of their purchase agreement. The other product features including overall quality, appearance, ease of use, graphics and convenience are what distinguish one product from the other in a competitive marketplace. It doesn’t matter whether the product is a computer, cell phone, pallet or tank.
The big idea is that all products benefit from excellence in design if it becomes part of corporate culture and overall strategy.
I hope that the trend continues as more molders and end users embrace the idea that good design improves profits and helps companies penetrate new markets. The synergetic effect of industry advancements will improve the growth and future of business success.