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The Power of Design: Part 3 — Giving the bottom line top priority


Strong design is an essential part of new product development. In this second article in his four-part series, Sergei Plishka explains how good design can improve a company’s bottom line.

Part 1: Keep your customers smartly packaged
Part 2: The 10 Commandents

The first two parts of this series defined good design and described how to achieve it. This segment focuses on the power of design on profitability, which can be categorised in two ways – increased sales and decreased costs.

Increased sales

Build your brand: Goodwill, loyalty and word-of-mouth from satisfied customers pay dividends.

Differentiation: By creating a point of difference through design, you avoid the commoditisation of your product and don’t have to compete solely on price. You can charge a premium for a unique product. Even in crowded and mature markets, you can find opportunities to match your product to the changing needs of your customers.

Innovation: It comes in many forms, but innovation is essentially a novel approach to solving a problem. For example, you don’t sell drills; you sell a way to make holes. If you can find a better way to make a hole quickly, accurately and easily, you’re an innovator. Patent your intellectual property.

Expansion: Ask yourself why some people buy your competitor’s product. Develop products to capture other market segments. Become your competition.

Export: The Australian market is a fixed size. By selling to the world you greatly increase your sales potential. Make sure your product meets international design standards. You may be eligible for export grants.

Rejuvenate: You may be losing sales because your product looks outdated. A restyling and repackaging facelift can increase appeal and breathe new life into your offering.

Decreased costs

Minimise labour: Assembly, especially in Australia, is expensive.

Consolidate: Reduce the number of parts. Simplify your design.

Standardise: Don’t reinvent the wheel. Using standard quality components saves money.

Miniaturise: A smaller, lighter solution that does the same job saves material and transport costs.

Mass-produce: It’s usually cheaper to manufacture in large volume. Your design and development cost per unit will be small.

Expedite: Get to market faster. Virtual design and rapid prototyping reduce development lead time so your product can generate income faster. They also validate the design and help avoid costly mistakes.

In the next part of this series, I will describe how the rules shared in this series were put to practice to assist with the design of a Bluetooth headset.

Sergei Plishka is an industrial designer with Outerspace Design, a product development and design firm based in Richmond.

Image by Kevin Dooley