Businesses have competed against one another for every small thing. There is one-upmanship in terms of every new product feature. Businesses have competed against each other in terms of pricing, ranges, quality and what not.
But over the years and precisely starting in 1998, some businesses started competing in terms of design. They would design absolutely beautiful products and let the customers decide between that and another product of the same type with inferior design.
When Apple bought the iMac, it looked so colorful and fun that people wanted to buy them. Even in his address Steve Jobs said “They look so good, that you kind of want to lick them”.
They made design a factor in a purchasing decision.
Apple brought about this revolution and it has slowly seeped into different industries and businesses. People started buying designer note pads, designer phone cases and what not.
To show an example of this, let’s take the case study of a company called Naiise in Singapore.
Naiise is an e-commerce store that focuses on design. All of Naiise’s offerings have a distinct design element to it that makes it stand out. Their designs have become so popular that customers want to purchase all of Naiise’s offerings so that they are consistent.
For a company that started off with fridge magnets have gone all the way to making couches because of the design and style. They also make designer phone cases that became a huge hit. Before the era of Naiise, all phone cases were simple and straight forward. The phone case would be black in colour and nothing else going on. Naiise started off the design revolution and there are many companies that offer designer phone cases. They took everyday objects and added a dose of their original style to it.
As people loved their original and quirky designs, they added a slew of products to their portfolio. They added watches and shirts and other everyday home objects. If Naiise went out with the notion of being just another product company that made sleeves, shirts and watches, they wouldn’t have done well. The fact that they were original in their design thinking has given them the edge.
Take a look at this style.
This is a well designed Notebook cover from Naiise.
As you can see, a big business has been built with design as a major differentiator and this holds good for other products as well.
In the App world, take a look at this game, Monument Valley.
Monument valley is a simple maze game that is easy to play. What differentiates this game is it’s design and it’s absolutely breath taking. It’s rated 4.9 out of 5 in the iTunes store and also got the Apple Design Award in 2014. Granted it’s hard to make, but the focus on the game was not it’s game play or advanced features, it was the design which people appreciated and downloaded it for.
This game has very few levels that can be crossed pretty easily. If you look at the reviews of the app that appreciate the game, then all of them center around the styles and design of the game.
Another case study is that of Beats, the headphones brand. Beats is the largest headphone company in the world, but they don’t have the best quality. Their designs come on bright red, blue and pink and mostly with a cool shiny finish that popped and connected with that audience.
If you look at the review of the headphones, then you will see that they are far from being the best in sound quality. This is because people look at things before they purchase it and if it looks good they get it. This helped beats get acquired for $3.2 Billion.
As you can see from these three case studies that you can add a design element to your products to make it stand out from the competition. This can be mostly done with consumer products.
So how do you think of design for your business?
The late Steve Jobs said: Design is not how it looks, but how it works.
There are two ways you can think of design
When you think of Utility, it means adding value to your product. You can add value by reducing the size or adding extra features for lesser cost and so on. For example, a power bank that is fitted with a flashlight is a product with high utility.
This sort of design thinking is basically putting in a bunch of elements that work together and package it at a affordable price.
Inspirational based design thinking is similar to the case studies above. Use colors and content in different ways and lace your products with inspiration that appeals to your audience.
Although Apple’s products are the epitome of design, people still put out Decals on their laptop because they want to make it look better. They want to show the world who they are and what they represent.
What are the companies that stand to gain from this design differentiation?
Any business in the consumer space can make a big splash with design. If you happen to be a company that makes home products like Mugs, Coasters, Chairs and others then adding a consistent design style to your products will make you stand out. But, the design should be original and different and consistent among products that users will be able to identify your company’s style.
I hope this article has given you a fresh perspective on standing out from the audience. This design stand can permeate in your communication, website and every thing you put out which makes you a brand that is seen as cool, hip and funky. The internals of the product will remain the same, but if the external look of the product reflects the personality of the end user, then you can keep coming up with products that they will keep purchasing and recommend to their friends.