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Should your business be working alongside a product design firm? For businesses wanting to create a unique product or service, working with a designer is one way to get a leg up. Working with a designer creates a unique selling point, enhances your design and adds value to your offering. After all, good design isn’t just about looks, it’s about solving problems.

1. Improving the function of a product and getting an edge over the competition.

Outsourcing design brings in a fresh perspective and gives a new approach to problem-solving.
The great thing about using a design firm is getting their external view on things. Designers can challenge preconceived ideas about materials, processes, testing and technology with your products.

Manufacturers, in particular, should seek a design firm because they need to get more out of the value chain from what they do. They can do that by using design as a tool to create more innovative, more desirable products, that command a higher price and capture a lot more value.

2. Worldwide View

Designers are good at ‘abductive thinking’. Which is essentially framing a problem a different way to come up with a solution. A design firm can bring a lot to the table, including experience from other industries, external ideas, processes and often can leverage technology out from other markets. Technical know-how, engineering, experience, knowledge of latest trends and materials will often be a given. It’s the ‘worldwide view on things’ as well as the approach to the product or problem that will make a designer really stand out.

3. Efficient

Every single industry could benefit from good design, especially around efficiencies. Waste is a component of cost that customers won’t pay for. Waste includes factors such as transport, storing, searching and sorting. You’ve got to make sure you design around the risks associated. Design is a way you think about these things. Design isn’t just restricted to products but industries as well. The process of design thinking can be applied to business models and systems as a whole.

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Initially, the designer needs to understand the key milestones and deadlines you are working towards so that everyone on both sides understands what is expected of each other. Clients who try to micro-manage the process don’t achieve the results they necessarily could because it can be a challenge to offer full value.

So how do you build a synergistic relationship with a designer?

Inevitably, all relationships have stumbling blocks and a business and designer relationship is no different. A common challenge is when the project scope and the brief changes because this means that you have to slow down and reset.This is a frequent occurrence that happens with poor project planning. This tends to happen when a client doesn’t anticipate how long a process will take. It is quite dangerous when people become too attached to their ideas because unless the idea is really tested, or is physically in the market, they don’t question it. 

Here’s how to get the best bang for your buck from a collaborative relationship with a design firm:

  1. Keep an open mind to the end result
  2. Have a plan in place to avoid flushing money down the toilet
  3. Share with your designer as much information as possible, otherwise, they are working with an empty toolbox
  4. Integrate your external design firm with your in-house team

Business owner and Blender client, Bruce Davies, says “Forget that you’re paying by the hour. You’ve got to get that right out of your head. You’ve got to be prepared to listen to ideas through, and when you do, you’ll be pleasantly surprised. What is wonderful about working with Blender is their ability to show us what our products are capable of doing, and how they can be used in different and interesting ways.”

So what should you be looking for in a good designer?

Well, a designing partner should be understanding, a good communicator and be able to understand the needs of each person connected along the value chain.They need to understand how your offering fits into the market ecosystem. Naturally finding a good fit is critical, be wary of engaging with a designer who doesn’t ask many questions!

Why is design crucial to your business?

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