Brand Strategy is a long-term plan for the development of a successful brand in order to achieve specific goals. A well-defined and executed brand strategy affects all aspects of a business and is directly connected to consumer needs, emotions, and competitive environments. Strategy plays an important, if not critical role in the success and outcome of goals and plans. This is true of business, life, career, and it’s foundational training for the military.
Design strategy is the term used to describe the nexus between corporate strategy and design thinking. Corporate strategy is the traditional method that businesses and other similar entities use to identify, plan, and achieve their long term objectives and goals. Design Thinking is a methodology that provides a solution-based approach to solving problems by engaging the end-users.
As in war and business, we need a way to put a strategy into effect, and that requires a methodology, a framework, a roadmap, and a way of thinking. In order to implement a design strategy, it requires a strategic thinking mindset. Creating and executing a strategy is both art and science. Much like design, a strategic mindset is practiced and improved upon over time. Here is a useful framework for implementing strategic thinking in design:
Assess: gain an understanding of the project in a holistic way, including an analysis of constraints, opportunities, and seeing the bigger picture through the lens of the business.
Understand: make sense of the project in terms of the design and business goals. Tie the project’s outcome back to business objectives and show key results that will help support those objectives.
Learn: formulate the elements of the strategy by planning tasks and milestones that directly support the core objectives. Ask a lot of strategic questions. For example: “Who are we designing this product for?”
Execute: act on the strategy and make sure the entire team is included. Strategic thinking works best in collaboration.
Check: as tasks are accomplished during the design process, it’s a good idea to reassess their effectiveness in achieving the goals and outcomes intended.
Strategic thinking, even in design, is a process that may seem a bit uncomfortable at first, but with a bit of persistence, it will create a stronger bond between the client and the design team, and show the value of design in an entirely new light. What kinds of benefits are afforded for the designer who implements a tactical mindset?
Efficiency: when we apply a strategic mindset to design, projects are better aligned with customer needs and there will be fewer revisions, and less wasted time and effort on designs that simply don’t work.
Collaboration: strategic thinking helps the entire team aim for a common goal, which means working together, as opposed to developing a myopic view of the outcome and working separately.
Better relationships: it is likely that a design team leader will involve strategic thinking if the company or client shares the same mindset. The resulting design will be in closer alignment with business goals, and stronger relationships will be fostered as a result of strategic thinking’s cohesive nature.
Longevity: strategic thinking can foster a design strategy that will lead to additional projects, recommendations, and lasting friendships with business leaders.