Good book: Do you matter?

Do You Matter? How Great Design Will Make People Love Your Company by Robert Brunner, Stewart Emery, Russ Hall

I’ve been reading this book co-written by Robert Brunner, former director of Apple’s Industrial Design Group and principal at Pentagram, the globally renowned design firm. (and according to Valley Wag, helped design the Amazon Kindle) Designed by Pentagram, the book offers a nicely digestible account of design’s value to business success, particularly for business folks (execs, directors, managers, etc.) who may still be unconvinced of “pursuing good design” as a fundamental business mission/prerogative.

For designers like myself, I feel there’s really not much earth-shatteringly novel or mind-blowing–we’ve all heard these points before of course. Yet they bear repeating with refreshed examples, from Geico to Samsung to P&G and others, as Brunner, et al does in the text.

The vital takeaway is the point about designing for the “emotional connection”–ensuring that your product and/or service is conceived as a portal to a total, integrated, cohesive “customer experience supply chain” that is memorable and rewarding. While I wholeheartedly agree, personally I find that particular phrasing (“customer experience supply chain”) a bit awkward and Dilbert-esque. Yet I must admit that it strongly parallels what I’ve been advocating lately, for an “integrative aesthetic experience” where the core elements (like Dan Saffer’s touchpoints and service moments) resonate into a coherent whole–a true experience in the Deweyan sense.

Ultimately, it’s about delivering an experience that propels a customer’s sense of being alive, as the authors state in the concluding chapter. This of course is a deeply emotional, personal, and HUMAN aspect that number-crunching CEO’s often don’t grok well, but designers do! Personally it’s great to see someone talking about this in a design book aimed at business suits, directly reflecting the language of Joseph Campbell, which address profound social/humanistic issues beyond profits and sales…but influence such economic success metrics.

Below are some of the most memorable and noteworthy quotes from the text that I will certainly keep referring back to:

  • Effective design establishes the emotional relationship you develop with a brand through the total experience, to which a service or product provides a portal.
  • You matter to your customers only to the extent that you have become connected to their emotional needs and desires.
  • You don’t sacrifice the user experience for growth; you drive growth from the quality of the experience.
  • Design-driven companies don’t design to the way they manufacture (code); they manufacture (code) to the way they design.
  • Executing great design is everybody’s job, not just the designer’s.
  • Being design-driven is a process, not an event; unless you’re willing to make fundamental changes, you’ll go back to doing the same old thing.
  • If design resided in research alone, there would be more great design.

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