Campbell on Branding and Innovation: Oh?! Design school? That’s cool!

Sunday, November 4th, 2007

A student on the Institute of Design’s Masters in Design Methods writes:

Many people still think of design in terms of creating logos (graphic), cars (industrial), or the good ol’ haute couture (fashion). These all fall under the broad umbrella of big D Design, but for a marketing manager at a Fortune 500 to leave to work on what many envision is a degree in making logos and pantsuits doesn’t really make sense to a lot of people. So to make sure they don’t have a mental image of me appearing on Project Runway, I inevitably fill in the pause after ‘That’s cool!’ with a five-minute explanation of what design-centered thinking, planning and strategy is, how that leads to innovative products, services, business models, and ultimately revenue to a company, and how it’s the Future of Business, and that programs like ID are years ahead of mainstream business, fancy MBA programs and super narrowly-focused ‘design as a trade’ schools. Not surprisingly, I often end up boring people. In fact, I might have just lost some of you readers.

Therefore, I thought I’d try my hand at writing up a brief explanation of design in the context of the program I’m attending. A quick way to get the gist across when I tell someone what I’m currently up to. Here it goes:

Design is a strategic way of thinking that places the user at the center of all decisions, using an iterative approach to deliver on unmet needs that creates real value for users and thereby for the organization.
Does that work? Is it too light on conveying the power of design? Is it too vague? What do you think?

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