The paradigm shift in design mindset

How does design help brands to stand out in the crowd? In our blog, we invite visiting writers to share their ideas of best practices in design thinking. Today, we are delighted to introduce Astha Kalbag, an enthusiastic blogger whose marketing related writing is widely read across 80 countries. Having studied psychology and marketing at Singapore Management University, Kalbag is particularly interested in the mindset behind design processes.

Astha Kalbag writes:

Design in the digital age is changing rapidly. Our methods of creating and implementing design are evolving at a lightning speed. While some design reinstates the classics in the modern era, some work is designed to create the classics of the future.

Brands are constantly experimenting with new design methodologies to improve the quality of their design. This involves testing, failing and learning – all in the context of a data driven mindset.

Test, Test, Test

Brand logos are one of the core symbols of a brand’s identity. But this is no longer about creating, publishing and printing. Gone are the days when brands waited for that bolt of creative lighting to create a new design for their logos. Companies like Subway have made sure they test multiple representations of their brand messaging before releasing these brand symbols into the market. Their new logo is the first modification in their 15 year history and did not happen overnight.

Fail fast, Learn Fast

Sometimes, vigorous testing and multiple iterations also lead to failed design and products. One classic example of this is ‘The New Coke’. Although 200,000 taste tests were conducted, Coca-cola soon realised that products are not just about their taste, but also design, identity and the emotional connection between consumers and the brand. When the new coke product was launched, people were immediately disconnected with the brand’s flagship product. Coca Cola classic was reintroduced. Through this case, brands across the globe can learn two things:

a) Reinvent yourself but maintain your heritage.

b) If you fail fast, you need to learn faster.

The Scientific Method

Brands are improving their design testing methodology to prevent design research disasters like that of Coca-cola. This involves hypothesis testing, significance calculators and conducting lean tests with small representative audiences in order to have a high confidence interval of being successful. One example of a company that does this particularly well is Uber.

Every touch point with the user experience right from searching to booking a taxi to customer service design is tested again and again in a Kaizen methodology. This continuous improvement mindset has a multiplier effect through data driven analytics softwares available (Google Analytics, Mixpanels). The focus is on understanding the user journey.

The Moral of the Story?

Design is not just something that improves the look and feel of products and services. It is actually a tool that can be used to solve problems. Design transcends beyond how the customer ‘sees a brand’— it offers a navigation path to how consumers ‘feel about a brand’. It’s about creating everlasting emotional connections.

Therefore design needs to be at the heart of all products, services, structures and processes. Brands are rethinking their ideologies and methodologies about design. Are you?


Astha Kalbag