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Design for the bottom line

By: Luke Gilman | Other Posts by
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One of the hardest concepts to get through to clients and co-workers is that design is principally functional, not decorative. While we can conceptualize the word design as a noun, it started off as a verb and when it comes right down to it a good design is designed to do something, to mean something, to communicate something. In the words of William Carlos Williams, a mantra for creative work of all kinds – “no ideas except in things.”

With this in mind, it’s refreshing to see design blogger Niti Bhan, Core77 tackle the profit equation of design in recent posts. A article from Display & Design Ideas chronicles McDonald’s most recent attempt to attack the bottom line with design, following the company’s first quarterly loss at the end of 2002, and the unflattering image cast from movies like SuperSize Me

Alvarez said that McDonald’s then corporately adopted the belief that if the company wanted to stay a successful contemporary brand, it would have to communicate a message that it presented an experience and lifestyle that people will buy into. “We consider ourselves as retailers, and an aging facility is a dying brand,” Alvarez emphasizes.

“We put ourselves in the shoes of the [McDonald's] customers to meet dining experience needs,” relates McDonald’s Johannesen. “The result was a flexible zone concept: a lingering zone; a fast zone with bar stool seating; and a quiet area for relaxing,” he says. Customers have a choice of such entertainment selections as WiFi access, programmed music and video.

Links: A plan to win, McDonald’s new prototype takes a holistic approach, McDonald’s Design Led Strategy to Boost Revenue

In a separate article from the Ad Age Australia, Richard Henderson describes the financial contribution of a rebranding for the FoodWorks grocery chain that emphasized the local connections of individual stores.

The company’s investment in a new identity is reaping dividends. Many FoodWorks stores in Australia have had up to a 30 per cent increase in revenue since the change. The company is also growing at 12.5 per cent compared with an industry average of 5.1 per cent.

Links: Identify, Discuss, Design: make money, Core77 Post

Too often clients come to designers looking to ‘make something pretty’ and when really the first job of a designer is to make it look like it does what it actually does, and the second is to help the user use it better, more quickly or more easily. If it turns out pretty, well then that’s just icing on the cake.

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Category: graphic design, uncategorizable


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