Driving Home Design

May 1999


Driving Home Design

If customers can read your values at a glance, you're in good company

What could your business possibly have in common with a 24-hour news network, an athletic shoe manufacturer and Tupperware? Plenty, if you value good design as much as business plans and bottom lines.

A recent article in I.D. magazine recognized North America's best design-driven companies, those that communicate corporate values with thoughtfully designed goods and services, time-tested brands and innovative distribution. These are companies that make a commitment to research and development to keep customers coming back for the products' ease of use, innovation and appeal.

Some have unmistakable, yet freely morphing logos: cable network Nickelodeon's all-caps name printed against orange slime blotches, dog bones or ice cream bars, for instance, or publisher Alfred A. Knopf's stick-figure dog mascot that grew an extra leg on a novel about a genetically experimental family. Some have skirted tradition to design products in ways that would change their categories – the way Apple pioneered the compact, plastic-shelled personal computer or Gillette rethought razors and toothbrushes.

Forty companies, including Martha Stewart Omnimedia and Gillette, got a nod from I.D. magazine for integrating smart design into their strategies.



Still others were so pervasive in the office and home they became a way of life. "FedEx became a verb. Martha Stewart became an adjective. And Airstream became a subculture," the article says.

The magazine also honored Tiffany & Co., whose commitment to design was set forth as follows by the company's president, Walter Hoving, in 1955: "Aesthetics, if properly understood, will almost always increase sales."

Among Tiffany's great design achievements are its six-prong engagement ring setting that enhances a diamond's sparkle; the simple, elegant jewelry of designers Elsa Peretti and Paloma Picasso; the world-famous windows of Gene Moore; and its well-known blue boxes and bags.

Even more notable, the article says, is how democratic the store is, selling its $60 silver pendants wrapped in blue boxes that "can make anything look expensive."

– Stacey King

Copyright © 1999 by Bond Communications.


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