In today’s fast-paced digital world, any business, large or small, can have its “image” made to order. Cookie-cutter image makers have made businesses that rival the scale of some of their largest clients by systematizing and packaging the creative process. However, image has nothing to do with good design. Image is actually a means to a cover-up, a cosmetic camouflage intended to make a company appear to look better than it actually is. Good design, on the other hand, speaks to the heart of a company and is an authentic expression of its character. For companies who are committed to good design, it is naturally expressed throughout the organization and in every aspect of the business.
A company can more easily be recognized by its actions and by its character and values than by its image, which at its best is a form of window dressing, and at its worse, is a clever deception of what it’s really all about. A friend of mine once said that “you can’t perfume a pig”. The good news is that if the pig recognizes what it is, it can be transformed by design to become something more. A company’s image can be established without regard to its authenticity. Logos can be designed without a sense of originality, form or application; packages can be produced without attention to visual quality; reports can be generated without regard for detail; and products can work without regard to their appearance. In fact, businesses can function without design, but should they?
Great companies know that good design is good business. Take Apple for example. Steve Jobs was relentless in his pursuit of great design. The reason why Apple products are the most sought after in their category is as much about their innovation as it is their design. The iPhone is an innovative, beautifully designed object that appeals to the user’s senses in every way. That’s why Apple never needs to discount the price of their products, and why it is the most profitable products company in the history of the world. It’s also why companies like Samsung copy every Apple detail—even it’s advertising. While Samsung has become Apple’s main competitor for smart phones, it will never be Apple. The difference is that Apple’s uncompromising commitment to design, quality, detail and innovation is baked into its DNA. Samsung, on the other hand is a well-funded copycat.