Strategic design is an emerging problem-solving mindset that utilizes design tools to meet business goals and objectives.
In order to practice strategic design, we must go beyond thinking of design solely in terms of its creative outputs, such as websites, marketing collateral and so on. We must instead consider creative activities within the context of the process of design, which use design processes and tools to develop and validate ideas quickly with the aim of creating consensus and alignment throughout the organization.
At Kluge, we believe that strategic design is the best method for helping our customers in the B2B space embed their brand promise and position into their interactions and experiences with customers, as well as the best approach for injecting the business brand and position into the operations and mindset of sales and marketing.
HOW DOES STRATEGIC DESIGN WORK?
Strategic design emphasizes gathering real-time insight and information from sources within the organization, as well as external sources such as consumers and the market.
The ultimate aim of the process of being strategic with design is to unlock hidden insights and obstacles to alignment. For example, getting input from internal stakeholders as to what a company’s key differentiation is can provide a diversity of opinions, which is a great place to start the process of alignment and consensus building.
Strategic design can be employed in a variety of ways, but at Kluge our process is as follows:
● Design Workshops & Stakeholder Interviews: During these interactive workshops we collaborate with clients to develop a clear understanding of the target audience, itemize key business objectives and drivers, and create user journeys that connect the business’ point of view with the target audience.
Design workshops help focus efforts and encourage discussion around the specifics of what the business does, and what their audience needs. In order to ensure that our understanding is accurate and thorough, we also include stakeholder interviews across the organization to compare the sales & marketing teams’ understanding and ideas with the organization as a whole.
Once again, this approach allows us to identify key areas of dissonance or value, which can in turn be used to inform strategy and creative products.
● Prototyping: At Kluge, the process of developing prototypes is intended to be rapid and iterative. Armed with the information we obtained from workshops and interviews we build working models of key assets.
Unlike purely creative agencies who focus solely on design assets like websites and collateral, for example, here at Kluge our prototypes can include developing functional models of products (apps, websites, etc), strategies (team structure, customer experiences). Regardless of the output, our goal is to use our unique, and iterative rapid-development process to increase the fidelity of prototypes as much as possible.
● Iterate, Build and Launch Quickly: The aim of workshops, interviews and iterative design goes beyond collaboration. The intent is to get projects launched quickly. By deploying quickly but with a strong foundation, we get insights more quickly and are able to iterate and scale projects with more of a strong footing and strategic insight by all of the stakeholders.
EMBARKING ON A STRATEGIC DESIGN PROCESS
There are dozens of amazing design tools out there, ranging from empathy maps, user journey templates, customer experience maps and many other buzz word-friendly tools. None of them are made to be rigidly used for any one scenario, which is why the most important thing you can do is work with an experienced partner.
An experienced strategic design agency understands that the best use of these tools is to identify and understand the main barriers to finding good solutions and facilitating the free flow of information. Both impact a business on multiple levels ranging from operations to acquisitions and even organizational structures.
The focus on creating alignment and encouraging fluid networks within an organization make strategic design a powerful tool. When employed effectively, strategic design can help create a more seamless organization – one where the brand’s promise is not just reflected in its marketing touchpoints, but also embedded in its operations, customer experience and value creation.