Chapter II -- Review of the literature
Meanings of Design
Design has many meanings and perspectives. Design is primarily a communication process; its purpose is to convey information about a product or an organization to consumers or clients. This section will investigate the "how" and "what" of design for marketing. Design is used to describe premium products, designer jeans and designer furniture. The products of some countries are characterized by their design, as in Swiss watches, Italian cars or German cameras.
David Brown, (1990) president of Art Center College of Design, describes designing,
"Everywhere we look we see the work of designers. Their hands shape the products we buy, use, and value. Their sensibilities guide the look and content of the visual communication that surrounds us. We live and work in spaces they create. Their ideas change our ideas about the world and our place in it. Design is the intersection between commerce and culture, between the individual and the environment. At its best, design embodies respect between maker and materials, between maker and eventual user. Designing is more than a job or even a career, although our rapidly changing, increasingly international economy offers plenty of opportunity. Rather, designing is a commitment and, ultimately, a way of life. (p. 5)
When marketers use the word "design," they usually refer to advertising, point-of-
purchase materials, packaging labels, and annual reports. This is a limited view of
design's scope. Design is a comprehensive term that covers the disciplines of designing products, packaging, interiors, graphics, publications and fashion, to name the most recognized fields (Wefler & Associates, 1980). The fields of architecture and industrial design should be included in this list. Industrial design historian Stephen Bayley (1985) says design encompasses "a wide range of activities, from materials technology at the hard end to styling and marketing at the soft one" (Bayley, 1985, p. 8). Philip Kotler and Alexander Rath (1984) describe the difference between functional and visual design as the difference between the design of a nuclear power plant and the design of wallpaper.
Peter Gorb (1978), director of the Institute of Small Business at the London Business School, defines design as "a plan to make something" (p. 7). He expands on this by saying, "The designer's concern with information is to present it efficiently; to simplify the complex, to suggest the subtleties behind the obvious, to enlarge the "micro" and reduce the "macro." Furthermore, the work stretches along a spectrum which at one end may be concerned with objective descriptions of the technology of products and environments and at the other with the highly emotive and persuasive, the advertising and sales promotion of these products and environments. (pp. 8 - 9)
Design describes the planning and decision-making process to determine the functions and characteristics of a product. Ralph Caplan, former editor of Industrial Design magazine and director of the International Design Conference in Aspen, says, "Design is at its best a process of making things right. That is, the designer at his best, or hers, makes things that work. But things often do not work. And making things right is not just a generative but a corrective process - a way of righting things, of straightening them out. (Caplan, 1982a, p. 11)
In the context of design as communication, it is important to understand how design conveys meaning to the consumer. Design aligns a product or organization with that of a consumer's self-image or expectations. The meaning of design is interpreted by the consumer according to his or her attitudes, personal experiences and preferences. That a single product is preferred by two or more diverse individuals or groups of people does not necessarily indicate that they like it for the same reasons. Mass media critic Tony Schwartz (1974), in talking about the effects of television and radio on consumers, wrote (note interesting choice of metaphors in first sentence),
"The critical task is to design our package of stimuli so that it resonates with information already stored within an individual and thereby induces the desired learning or behavioral effect. Resonance takes place when the stimuli put into our communication evoke meaning in a listener or viewer. That which we put into the communication has no meaning in itself. The meaning of our communication is what a listener or viewer [or in the case of design, the consumer] gets out of his experience with the communicator's stimuli. The listener's or viewer's brain is an indispensable component of the total communication system. His life experiences, as well as his expectations of the stimuli he is receiving, interact with the communicator's output in determining the meaning of the communication.... To achieve a behavioral effect, whether persuading someone to buy a product or teaching a person about history, one designs stimuli that will resonate with the elements in a communication environment to produce that effect." (pp. 24 - 26, parentheses added)
Positioning is the marketing adaptation of Schwartz's communications theory.
Positioning is a long-term strategic effort by a company to own a "place" in the prospect's mind "Share of mind" is more important to marketers in the long-run than "share of market." Most importantly, this information comes from the consumer, not the marketing manager (Trout & Ries, 1972).
Brigitte Borja de Mozota (1990), a professor at the Universite Rene Descartes in France, makes the distinction between design as a technique that can be used in a communications strategy (graphic and environmental design) and design used in a product development strategy (packaging and product design). "Whatever the final output," she says, "design as an innovation technique is always a problem solving activity" (Borja de Mozota, 1990, p. 73).
While her conclusion is generally agreeable, it could be argued that packaging and product design are communications devices as well as strategic new product development tools. In her explanation of the relationship between design and company profits, Borja de Mozota (1990) touches on the signification and semantic meaning of design in a typical French linguistic criticism fashion:
Innovations produced by designers are signs. A sign is the resultant of a three-dimensional system and of the complex set of relationships between the attributes of each dimension: structure, function, and symbol. All signs or innovations have a three-level communication system:
1 The innovation-itself system means our communication with the structure of the sign, its technological dimension and its syntax.
2 The innovation-user system means our communication with the structure of the sign, its pragmatic dimension and its utility.
3 The innovation-environment system means our communication with the symbolism of the sign, its semantic dimension and the connotative and denotative factors it conveys about our relationship with others.
Hence, if all innovations are signs in their visual, physical aspects, any other environment artifact is also a sign. And the environment is a system of signs with bilateral influence on any new sign or innovation produced.
Design, in order to be considered as an efficient management of innovation technique, has to create value. The signs (graphics or products) conceived by designers have to be profitable. Therefore, we can define the "sign value" concept as the equation of design technique efficiency. This concept explains how design efficiency can be measured. It also explains why design is part of marketing. Design and marketing are both concerned with the exchange relationships between a company and its environment. (pp. 73-74)
Much of the behavioral research done in advertising and visual communication
may be applicable to design studies and leaves much room for future work by design researchers. In the attitude literature, studies have shown attitudes may be influenced by message arguments - central route, or by contextual cues - peripheral route (Petty & Cacioppo, 1981); that attitudes toward the advertisement affect attitudes toward the brand (Gardner, 1985; Mitchell & Olson, 1981; Shimp, 1981); that both ad claims and pictorial elements of an ad influence attitudes toward both the ad and the brand (Miniard, Bhatla & Rose, 1990; Mitchell, 1986); that consumers' brand attitude formation for a novel or unconventional product may depend more on consumers' liking of the advertisement than on brand-related beliefs (Cox & Locander, 1987); that feelings affect attitude toward the ad and attitude toward the brand (Burke & Edell, 1989); that consumer processing of advertising is basically cognitive, rational processing of information (Shimp & Gresham, 1983); that non-cognitive (peripheral) processing of information is equally important to cognitive (central) processing (Thorson, 1983); and that hemispherical lateralization is a subconscious determinant of consumers' processing of information (Janiszewski, 1990). Visuals, because they rely on symbols rather than words for message effectiveness, have potential to communicate cross-culturally through shared meanings (Moriarty, in press) and visual elements of advertisements should be classified as rhetorical as well as verbal elements, and not as merely peripheral cues (Scott, 1990). If the preceding studies, of which only a few of the many in these areas are mentioned, included design (whether product, environmental or corporate identity - in addition to information - advertising), it may be deduced that attitudes toward products or product design would affect attitudes toward brands or companies, that liking of product design would affect attitudes toward the brand and company, et cetera. In other words, similar results might be found; however, this would need to be substantiated with empirical evidence.
Philip Kotler and Alexander Rath (1984) provide the best definition of design as a strategic marketing weapon. ''Design is the process of seeking to optimize consumer satisfaction and company profitability through the creative use of major design elements (performance, quality, durability, appearance, and cost) in connection with products, environments, information, and corporate identity" (Kotler & Rath, 1984, p. 17).
Design's value as a marketing tool is best understood by breaking it down into its major elements as described by Kotler and Rath (1984). The performance aspect is where designers gather information from market research to determine and understand the wants and needs of the target market. Designers are often credited with developing features that augment the product in ways that may never have occurred to the consumer. John Swans and Linda Jones Combs (1976) have identified two types of performance characteristics, instrumental performance and expressive performance. Instrumental performance is the utilitarian expectations consumers have for a product. Does the product serve its intended purpose well and satisfy consumer need? Expressive performance is the psychological level of performance. Does the product create and arouse consumer need? Design's performance role is not limited to products. Consumers can be satisfied or dissatisfied with the instructions for assembling or using a product (information design), a store layout (environment design), or with a company's ability to live up to or surpass expectations promised by its corporate identity. Swan and Combs (1976) found that, "In judging the performance of a product, the consumer compares a set of performance outcomes to the outcomes that were expected for the item. If the performance of the physical product was below expectations, then the product is likely to be categorized as dissatisfactory. If both instrumental and expressive outcomes were equal to or exceeded expectations, then the consumer will tend to judge the product as satisfactory." (p. 33)
The purpose of using design is to ascertain the desired level of performance in a
product and communicate appropriate levels of expectations to the consumer. Thus, high-quality design is just as important in a generic item as in a premium positioned item because it communicates to the consumer exactly what it is that they are buying and what their expectations should be for the performance of the product.
Quality is the second component of design, and perhaps the most important in terms of providing benefits to consumers (For a more in-depth discussion of quality and marketing strategy, please see: Gitlow & Gitlow, 1987; Jacoby & Olson, 1985; Townsend & Gebhardt, 1990). The role of the designer is to determine the optimal level of quality in materials and workmanship that is appropriate for the target market's performance expectations and price range. John Czepiel distinguishes perceived quality from other definitions to mean that "the basic product design - the combination of technical features, aesthetics, and symbolic qualities - is a better fit to the customer's desires for benefits than others' products" (Czepiel, 1992, p. 1(0).
Products should be designed to reflect consumer's desires and tastes - so marketing people, designers and manufacturing must work closely through the whole marketing process; from developing the product idea through production and distribution and finally through research to determine consumers' satisfaction, which is input back into the product development process (Hauser & Gausing, 1988). Design plays a critical role in this cyclical process referred to as "continuous-improvement" (Gitlow & Gitlow, 1987). Urban and Star (1991) describe design as an integral part of "total quality":
Total quality includes the design of the product and customer service. The quality concept begins with design, carries through production, distribution, and service, and ends in total customer satisfaction. In product positioning for quality we must understand how engineering decisions are linked to feature creation; how features are related to the perceptions, preferences, and choices of customers; and how costs, prices and profits are affected by engineering (and design) decisions. The best quality level is the one that meets the needs of customers, can be produced defect free, and earns profits for the firm. Quality is an integral part of creating benefits and positioning a product in a target market segment (p. 141)
Jerry Bowles and Joshua Hammond (1991) credit the concept of quality for the
success of Japanese companies. They say that the Japanese developed a new marketing paradigm where winning organizations were defined by their practices of listening to the customer, designing products that met or exceeded their best expectations, and continuously improving all the organizational processes that lead to customer satisfaction. In reaction to losing markets to higher quality foreign products, many marketing managers in the U.S. are making adjustments in product designs, manufacturing techniques and marketing strategies (Jacobson & Aaker, 1987).
Durability is another component of product quality and is directly related to a product's performance and quality characteristics. Product appearance is a primary form of differentiating and segmenting by appealing to a specific group of consumers. Style is a form of visual durability related to appearance. But, "Design is much more than style. Some well-styled products fail to satisfy the owners because they are deficient in performance characteristics" (Kotler & Rath, 1984, p. 18). Finally, designers are responsible for ensuring that the product is produced and made available within the target market's cost range.
Design is a complex process with many perspectives and plays a major role in determining and providing consumer satisfaction. The most important perspective to a marketer is the advantage of using design to convey information about a company or product to a consumer and the marketing environment to facilitate exchange.
Design and the Marketing Concept
Design is the visual expression of the marketing concept. Designers determine, through research, what it is that the target market wants and translates that back into products, environments, information or corporate identity for the consumers' benefit, using the elements of performance, quality, durability, appearance and cost. This section will investigate the ''why'' of design for marketing.
Designers by nature are concerned with the basic properties of the raw materials in a product, not for what they are but rather for what they might become in terms of satisfying human needs. Design is the outward expression of the manufacturer's regard for both the products it makes as well as for the consumer. Good design is an expression of considerateness on behalf of the organization to the consumer (Dichter, 1975).
Levitt (1975), says "A company must learn to think of itself not as producing goods and services but as buying, creating, and satisfying customers. This approach should permeate every nook and cranny of the organization; if it doesn't, no amount of efficiency in operations can compensate for the lack. (pp. 176) One marketing text describes the marketing concept as the coordinated activities that allow a corporation to achieve its goals and objectives while at the same time satisfying consumers' wants and needs. "Customer satisfaction is the major aim of the marketing concept" (Pride & Ferrell, 1983, p.14). Philip Kotler (1991) describes the marketing concept as "the key to achieving organizational goals by determining the needs and wants of target markets and delivering the desired satisfactions more effectively and efficiently than others" (p. 16).
Consumers prefer to do business with a company that genuinely cares about them.
Tom Peters and Robert Waterman (1982), in their book In Search of Excellence, noted that many companies talk a lot about how important customers are, but actually think of them as a "bloody nuisance" (p. 156) and treat them accordingly. Design is the visual expression of the marketing concept, one that should be well managed and coordinated to allow a corporation to achieve its goals. Design is a subtle, genuine expression of caring for the consumer and is absolutely essential to their satisfaction because it customizes information to suit their needs. As we know, actions speak louder than words.
Design and the Marketing Mix
Design is a powerful tool that should be used in every area of an organization's operations to provide a strategic competitive advantage and achieve corporate objectives. Design can provide consumer satisfaction and enhance corporate performance in each component of the marketing mix and the marketing environment The primary advantage of high-quality design is providing information to, and communicating with, consumers, whether through the product, marketing communications, environments, or corporate identity. This section will examine the "when" and "where" of design and marketing.
Communication with the consumer is the essence of the marketing concept Information is the foundation of product utility. Economist, entrepreneur and writer Paul Hawken in his book The Next Economy (1983), describes the importance of the information-to-mass ratio of products. He says, "When we examine a product, it conveys to us something of the knowledge of the producer, through the cut of the garment, the design of the tool, the comfort and solidity of a chair.... The marketplace is where goods are exchanged, and the mechanism behind this transaction is the exchange of information, through both speech and observation. An item's price is an important part of the information in a product, and it is set between the buyer and seller. But most of the information is embodied in the product itself - in its quality, design, utility, and workmanship.... the application of the knowledge of how best to make or accomplish something." (pp. 74 - 76)
Coyne (1992) expands on Hawken's point by saying that, "Since information is replacing raw material as the most important element in the products and services we buy today.... Manufacturers are reevaluating policies ... that competitive advantage belongs to those who can make products at the lowest cost. Today, customers want quality and the designer is in the position of helping business by acting as the ultimate consumer advocate." (p. 18)
Marketing objectives are what a company wants to achieve, the goals of the
organization. Marketing strategy is a company's plan for how it will go about achieving its marketing objectives. The marketing mix represents the tools that a marketer works with, enabling an organization to strategically achieve its goals (Kotler, 1991, chap. 3, pp. 62- 80).
The marketing mix is made up of four "controllable" components that surround the consumer in a marketing-oriented firm: product, price, place and promotion. These components interact with the marketing environment: political, legal, regulatory, societal, economic and technological forces over which the marketer has little or no control (Pride & Ferrell, 1983).
The marketing mix and the marketing environment are affected positively by implementation of design as a positioning and differentiating strategy. Michael Lawless and Robert Fisher (1990) provide a framework that incorporates seven components affecting strategic decisions for competitive advantage: product form, product function, product intangibles, pricing, promotion, distribution, and firm characteristics. These components are design-driven or design related, and each has potential to influence consumer perceptions. This section will examine each of these decision components and how they are affected by design.
The product component is all of the physical characteristics of new product design. Lawless and Fisher divide the product component into function and form characteristics, indicating that, from a managerial perspective, they represent different investment approaches. Functional characteristics are physical attributes that influence a product's performance. Form characteristics relate to design aesthetics such as color, styling, size and shape. Essential product tangibles used for differentiation are features, quality (reliability and performance-related attributes), and styling (Lawless & Fisher, 1990). Joseph Alba and Wesley Hutchinson (1987) have shown that "inexperienced" consumers often use outward form to create opinions about a product's performance.
Citing the old industrial design adage from the Bauhaus school (which is still practiced and preached vigorously and successfully by designers such as Dieter Rams, chief product designer for Braun), "form follows function," Lawless and Fisher (1990) indicate the impact on the consumer is greatest when good form is accompanied by good function.
Product intangibles are the non-physical characteristics of a product and affect consumers' perception of the total offering (Lawless & Fisher, 1990). Product intangibles are also an important form of innovation (Levitt, 1981). Levitt (1980) describes the difference between product tangibles and intangibles. An automobile is not simply a machine for movement visibly or measurably differentiated by design, size, color, options, horsepower, or miles per gallon. It is also a complex symbol denoting status, taste, rank, achievement, aspiration, and being 'smart,' - that is, buying fuel economy rather than display. (p. 84)
Levitt (1980) adds, "Differentiation is not limited to giving the customer what he expects. What he expects may be augmented by things he has never thought about" (p. 87).
Brand image and packaging are considered product or promotion variables.
Graphic and industrial designers' job is to make sure that the product's promise of satisfaction is safely and effectively carried through shipping and handling, onto retailers' shelves and into consumers' homes, and into recycling bins instead of landfills. Graphic designers communicate information about a company or its products in the promotion variable of the marketing mix, which may include advertising, point-of-purchase displays, packaging labels, annual reports and corporate identity. A well communicated image should help establish a company's character and position, insulate the company from competition and enhance market performance. This potential impact of design on a company's performance underscores the importance of managing the image over time. A corporate identity or brand image should be viewed as a long-term investment (Park, Jaworski & McInnis, 1986). This is contrary to the market-share mentality that often dominates marketer's thinking.
Since design plays a major role in communicating brand image, it follows that design should be managed as a strategic competitive tool as well. Roger Blackwell (1987), a marketing professor at The Ohio State University, explains design's role in marketing communications: "All aspects of an organization's activities are focused upon satisfying the customer in a marketing-oriented firm. The same applies to the communications to those consumers. Thus, product design is seen as part of the communications program, as is package design, the decoration of the truck fleet, the uniforms worn by employees, the corporate logo, and the annual report." (p. 247)
Architects, retail planners and interior designers impact the place variable of the
marketing mix with attractive, productive, safe and comfortable office, warehouse and retail environments for employees and consumers. Finally, price is determined by the perceived value (innate qualities) of the product and its appropriateness for its intended purpose. A company may either be able to charge more for a product because of its appearance and functional qualities or it may be able to compete at a strategically low price because of enhancements or efficiencies gained in manufacturing through good industrial design.
Design gives companies a competitive advantage in the marketing environment It communicates a company's position regarding political, legal and regulatory forces and is dynamic in response to issues regarding economic, technological and societal forces that confront organizations. Although marketing environment variables may be uncontrollable, design is a tool with which to anticipate and respond to consumer's needs.
Design communicates information about a company or its products through all parts of the marketing mix and marketing environment to provide consumer satisfaction and enable corporations to achieve their objectives. As an essential part of the marketing mix, design should be managed in much the same way as other marketing mix elements.
Design and Marketing Strategy
Design can be a powerful tool for managers to use in making and selling products or to develop an effective working environment, or communicate with consumers, shareholders and employees (Gorb, 1990). Like advertising or public relations, design is a tool managers can choose to use, or not. All companies use design to some extent, but only some use designers appropriately. Effective, high-quality design is always done with consideration for the other elements of the marketing process, and not as an isolated, arbitrary process. In good design, each decision reinforces, and is reinforced by, other marketing decisions (Caplan, 1982b).
Design creates satisfaction for consumers and profits for the company and is essential to strategic marketing planning. ''The marketing process consists of analyzing marketing opportunities, researching and selecting target markets, designing marketing strategies, planning marketing programs, and organizing, implementing, and controlling the marketing effort" (Kotler, 1991, p.63, italics added). Marketing strategy is defining the target market in which the company will compete and the positioning of products and services to satisfy consumers' wants and needs (Urban & Star, 1991). Product differentiation is when the "product offering is perceived by the consumer to differ from its competition on any physical or nonphysical product characteristic, including price" (Dickson & Ginter, 1987, p. 4). A product differentiation strategy is the "alteration of perceptions so as to result in a state of product differentiation" (Dickson & Ginter, 1987, p. 4). The product difference must be perceptible and meaningful to the consumer for it to have a differentiating effect.
Companies seek differentiation through "product features - some visually or measurable identifiable, some cosmetically implied, and some rhetorically claimed by reference to real or suggested hidden attributes that promise results or values different from those of competitors' products" (Levitt, 1980, p. 83). Jack Trout and AI Ries, the instigators of the positioning era, comment on its importance to marketers, ''There are too many products, too many companies and too much 'noise' in the marketplace. To succeed in our over-communicated society, a company must create a 'position' in the prospect's mind" (Trout & Ries, 1972 p. 3). To cope with the proliferation of marketing communications, consumers "keep track of the information" by ranking products categorically in their minds. Design aids in this process by providing information to consumers, either in absolute terms or in relation to competitors' products, to help them perform categorization (Trout & Ries, 1972). This is why design is especially important, because its primary function is to understand problems from the consumers' point-of-view, then translate those needs into benefits designed into the product and communications, and relay that information back to the consumer.
Identifying and targeting consumers isn't getting any easier as they begin to express new attitudes of individualism (McKenna, 1988). To satisfy consumers, organizations must change the way they've traditionally designed, produced, marketed, and sold their products. Marketing consultant Regis McKenna (1988) states what this means for companies:
"More options for goods producers and more choices for consumers. Less perceived differentiation among similar products. Intensified competition, with promotional efforts sounding more and more alike, approaching "white noise" in the marketplace. Newly minted meanings for words and phrases as marketers try to "invent" differentiation.
Disposable information as consumers try to cope with information deluge from print, television, computer terminal, fax and satellite dish. Customization by users as flexible manufacturing makes niche production every bit as economic as mass production. Changing leverage criteria as economies of scale give way to economies of knowledge - knowledge of the customer's business, of current and likely future technology trends, and of the competitive environment that allows the rapid development of new products and services. (p. 89)
In his article "Marketing is Everything," McKenna (1991), says that "Marketing's
ultimate assignment is to serve customers' real needs and to communicate the substance of the company" (p. 70). Designers help business by "acting as the aesthetic and humane conscience of industry" (Graham, 1979). Amidst the deluge of advertising messages (McKenna counts 3,000 per person, per day) consumers are unable to remember which ad pitches which product, much less what differentiates one product from another. Marketers need to improve the quality of information contained within their products; make them more useful, more convenient or more entertaining. What customers want from products is "often qualitative and intangible; it is the service that is integral to the product. Service is not an event; it is the process of creating a customer environment of information, assurance, and comfort" (McKenna, 1991, p. 77).
Trout and Ries (1972) say that to cope with change, one should take a long-range view of the situation. Marketing people fall short here - they often think of their customers in terms of "percentage points" and concentrate on selling instead of satisfying the consumers' wants and needs for long-term success. McKenna calls this a "market-share mentality," and this translates into the marketplace as short-term tactics (coupons, gimmicks and promotions) instead of concentrating on long-term goals (growth, positioning, product leadership and corporate image development).
Many companies are experiencing the intense service and price competition mentioned by McKenna, and it is driving down profits. In this situation, one of the few hopes companies have to stand out from the crowd is to produce superiorly designed products for their target markets. Marketers pay considerable attention to product functioning, pricing, distribution, personal selling, and advertising, and much less attention to product, environment, information, and corporate identity design. (Kotler & Rath, 1984, p. 16)
Many marketers have yet to realize the value that design adds to their products
and companies and see it as a frill and not as a strategic tool. Kotler and Rath (1984) provide the following as typical of many managers' attitudes toward using design:
Steven Grant, an entrepreneur, visited one of the authors and described a device he was developing called the Fuel Brain, which monitors room temperature and controls the heating and air circulation functions of oil furnaces. When asked whether he would use professional design services to assist in this venture, he said there would be no need. His engineer was designing the product. His next door neighbor was designing the logo. His marketing officer was designing a four-page brochure. The Fuel Brain would not need any fancy packaging, advertising, or general design work, because he felt that the product would sell itself. Grant believed that anyone with an oil burning furnace and a desire to save money would buy one. A year later, upon being re-contacted, he sadly explained his disappointment in the sales of the Fuel Brain. (p. 16)
In addition, Kotler and Rath (1984) say, "Well-managed, high-quality design offers the company several benefits. It can create corporate distinctiveness in an otherwise product- and image-surfeited marketplace. It can create a personality for a newly launched product so that it stands out from its more prosaic competitors. It can be used to reinvigorate product interest for products in the mature stage of its life cycle. It communicates value to the consumer, makes selection easier, informs, and entertains. Design management can lead to heightened visual impact, greater information efficiency, and considerable consumer satisfaction. (p. 17)
Colin Clipson (1990a), a leading proponent of design management adds that,
"All outcomes of design are imbued with some symbolic or emotive content; this applies equally to a product, a building, a communication or a service.... In consumer personal products the emotive content is high, while in industrial goods it may be much lower; however it is always present" (p. 1(0).
An example of using design correctly as an integral part of the product to satisfy
consumers' wants and needs may be seen in the Ford Motor Company's recent history. Living with the heritage of Henry Ford, who made the infamous proclamation that buyers of the successful Model T could have "any color they wanted as long as it was black." Ford found itself losing desperately - $3.3 billion in losses between 1980 and 1982 - to General Motors and the Japanese imports in the battle for market share (Bowles & Hammond, 1991). Detroit never made the transition from "selling what we make" to "making something that people really want" (Lorenz, 1986).
Christopher Lorenz (1990), management editor of The Financial Times and author of The Design Dimension: the New Competitive Weapon for Business, recounts that Ford's cars used to look "characterless and utterly nondescript" (p. 136). Ford then made a bold move and literally "bet the house" on a new philosophy of integrated design and quality. Ford broke away from the conservative design which had characterized their cars for the last 20 years (since the introduction of the revolutionary and wildly successful Mustang) and introduced the Taurus, the most successful American auto since the fabled Mustang (Powell, 1987).
Lee Iacocca (one who should know better, since he was the ''father'' of the Mustang) dismissed Ford's new aerodynamic direction as "the jellybean look." General Motors executives felt the aerodynamic direction would fail because it was too extreme, and said so publicly. Ford leaped from the "brink of disaster" to the most profitable car company in the world based on this new philosophy (Powell, 1987). The success of the Taurus was much more than a styling job, however. Donald Petersen, Ford's president who deserves credit for the transformation, made several revolutionary changes in corporate structure and strategy to accomplish this huge feat. In corporate structure, Petersen brought together product planners, industrial designers and engineers for the first time into product teams, whose stated goals were:
- To create a world-class car, with quality second to none - either
foreign or domestic.
- The customer would be the focal point in defining quality.
- Product integrity would never be compromised.
- To accommodate the first three objectives, the team at the very beginning had to involve people from both "upstream" and "downstream" in the car-making process: that is, from the CEOs office to the design studios to the end of the assembly line - and even beyond, to the supplier, the ad agency, the dealership, and ultimately the customer. (Doody & Bingaman, 1988,p.45)
The change that had the most impact was moving a large part of the corporate
design staff into line management roles under the Ford North American product development structure, where they had much greater influence and impact on design decisions. In marketing strategy, Ford moved away from its traditional production and sales-led thinking toward ''true'' marketing, where consumers' wants and needs would determine the products the company would produce. Styling (adding strips of chrome and wood grain) had been replaced by an integration of form and function. Since then, the Ford Escort has become the number one best selling car in the world, and the Ford Taurus is about to take over the best selling car in America spot from the Japanese produced (but American made) Honda Accord (Kerwin & Treece, 1992). Lorenz (1986) comments, "Gone was the traditional policy, common to all American motor manufacturers, of cladding a lacklustre and unimaginative vehicle in an unwieldy, boxy, battering-ram shape, garnished with all sorts of ritzy, angular radiator grilles, tail fins and chromium strips. In its place was a policy of integral design, in which the car's uncluttered shape was heavily influenced by the need to reduce wind drag in order to improve its fuel consumption." (p. 2)
Petersen claims that Ford's new philosophy encompasses performance, handling and aesthetics, as well as quality, function, safety, comfort, reliability and cost of ownership - all of which are either direct or indirect results of well-managed, high-quality design.
Strategic marketing planning (positioning and differentiating) is critical to business success and design is a major strategic tool in this process. However, very few companies even consider design as a strategic weapon. Ford is an example of one company that has made design a focal point for strategic corporate decisions and experienced remarkable consumer satisfaction and corporate success as a result.
This section examines what is known about how a company should manage the design process for the best returns on a company's investment, and reasons why more companies don't use design as suggested. Four contexts in which design management can be used (how to manage designers, designers in a management society, design function in an organization, and how managers use design), and a design user's model discussing four levels of a corporation's interaction with design (product, environment, information and corporate identity) will also be examined. Design management is the "who" of the design and management anomaly.
Design is a strategic marketing resource and should be managed as such. Bruce Archer (1976), head of the design research department at the Royal College of Art in London, put it succinctly, "Design, for management purposes, can be interpreted as meaning the main creative activity of the architects, engineering designers, graphic designers, industrial designers and others who, in a particular case, devise and elaborate the products, packaging, display, presentation and/or house style of a firm. Management, for design purposes, can be interpreted as ranging from the overall control of the firms' innovative activities - including corporate identity, product strategy, research, design and development, diversification and the like - to the detailed organizational and financial control of drawing office and/or project activity.... In some firms, where product design, in either the technological or the styling sense, dominates the company's fortunes, design management is identical with general management and the design manager will be the managing director. In other firms, where other considerations dominate, design management may be limited to (say) advertising. (p. 42)
Gorb (1982) defines what design is for managers and why it should be important to them. Design is the planning process for the things you make (which are your products). It can, but need not necessarily be, concerned with the aesthetics of your product. It also is in part and when necessary, a creative process, but it need not be exclusively, or even significantly concerned with creativity. Its importance to you as a manager is immense. In your manufacturing enterprise you have a number of responsibilities and concerns; to employees and to investors, to customers, to suppliers, to the community and so forth. But your prime responsibility, the main purpose of your enterprise and your main personal concern is with your product, and its present and future survival. On your product everything else depends. Furthermore as a manager one of your main tasks is planning in the widest context, and squarely in the forefront of that planning must be your plans for your product; and planning for your product is design. And design therefore almost certainly is (or should be) the most important thing you do. (p. 38)
Although Gorb neglects the importance of the consumer in this discussion, it is a
realistic view of the situation. Gorb (1982) also identifies four contexts of design management The first he calls ''How to manage designers," or the practice of running a design studio or department within an organization. It requires the same basic principles and practices as running almost any small business or consultancy except that it involves managing people and products that are inherently creative. The second area Gorb calls ''Designers in a management society," providing designers with knowledge of the worlds of marketing and industry in which they live and work. The third area (and, Gorb says, probably the most correct use of the term) Gorb calls, "Design function in organizations," and design management is placed at the same functional level as financial or production management. Although most designers feel that this is the level at which design decisions must be made and directed, it is rare to find the responsibility placed highly enough within the corporation.
Because "Design function in organizations" is concerned primarily with product design, a more comprehensive definition must be provided. The fourth area is "How managers use design." Gorb (1982) provides a model to describe the use of design in several types of business organizations because there are many companies whose product rarely changes, or organizations whose emphasis on design lies well outside of their main product, and also to address service and information industries whose product isn't tangible.
Gorb states that each of the four levels in the design user’s model represents a level at which most companies operate, and that each level is farther removed from the primary purpose of the organization than the previous one. Consequently, each level is correspondingly more complex. Kotler's (1984) observations on design management support this four-tier structure proposed by Gorb. Bill Hollins and Stuart Pugh (1990) refer to the integration of these four levels as "total design - the systematic activity necessary from the identification of a market of user need to the selling of the successful product to satisfy this need" (p. 3).
Design managers should be responsible for coordinating and directing all four levels of an organization's design efforts: products, environments, information and identity, in the same way that the personnel or accounting departments are managed. The first level is the product, the most important and most immediate concern for the manager. This level should include all activities from market research input through the start of detailed product specifications and designing, into and through manufacturing (Hollins & Pugh, 1990). Glen Urban and John Hauser (1980) take a similar view of the product design process, "Design is the designation of the key benefits the product is to provide, the psychological positioning of these benefits versus competitive products, and the fulfillment of the product promises by physical features" (p. 155).
The second level is the environment Gorb remarks that this is where the mission of the organization is most efficiently achieved. Environment design encompasses tools, buildings, equipment, location, vehicles, and selling points. Disciplines involved with environment include architects, retail planners, interior designers, site planners, landscape architects, signage designers and graphic designers. The designer's role at this point is more comprehensive and less immediate than product design. Environment design poses special problems for design managers because most of the applications require substantial capital investments (a new plant, for example), and most often a company will bring in an outside consultant, not having a need to keep an architect permanently on staff. If the organization's use of design is disjointed, then it is difficult to communicate a sense of the company's purpose, culture and needs to the supplier. Gorb (1982) points out the paradox that, ''The more important the commitment and the greater its strategic importance, the less knowledgeable the manager is likely to be; and thus, as a client, less able to brief his consultants" (p. 40).
The third level of the design model, information, is where design is typically thought of as communications. Information design may encompass everything from management information systems to advertising and public relations, to annual reports and signage. Gorb (1982) points out that because the costs of information design are slight, managers tend to trivialize the task. This is especially problematic when you consider that this is what most influences the public when they evaluate a company.
The fourth level of design input to an organization is corporate identity. Gorb (1982) says this level affects major management issues of strategy and policy. Corporate identity design involves auditing, improving, standardizing and controlling the product, environment and information systems which are used to communicate a company's personality, culture and mission.
Wally Olins (1989) says that, "In order to be effective every organization needs a clear sense of purpose that people within it understand. They also need a strong sense of belonging. Purpose and belonging are the two facets of identity" (Olins, 1989, p. 7). He explains the relationship between corporate identity and other design practices within an organization:
"Everything that the organization does must be an affirmation of its identity. The Products that the company makes or sells must project its standards and its values. The buildings in which it makes things and trades, its offices, factories and showpieces - their location, how they are furnished and maintained - are all manifestations of identity. The corporation’s communication material, from its advertising to its instruction manuals, must have a consistent quality and character that accurately and honestly reflect the whole organization and its aims. (p. 7)
The most important point is that design, at all four levels - product, environment,
information and corporate identity - must be integrated. Otherwise, it represents the shortsightedness of "selling" as opposed to true "marketing." Blackwell (1987) discusses that Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC) programs differ from traditional (fragmented) marketing communications in several ways. If the word "design" is substituted for "IMC," then these guidelines apply equally well.
- IMC programs are comprehensive. Advertising, personal selling, retail atmospherics, behavioral modifications programs, public relations, investor relations programs, employee communications, and other forms are all considered in the planning of an IMC.
- IMC programs are unified. The messages delivered by all media, including such diverse influences as employee recruiting and the atmospherics of retailers upon which the marketer relies, are the same or supportive of a unified theme.
- IMC programs are targeted. The public relations programs, advertising programs and dealer / distributor programs all have the same or related target markets.
- IMC programs have coordinated execution of all the communications components of the organization.
- IMC programs emphasize productivity in reaching the designated targets when selecting communication channels and allocating resources to marketing media (pp. 237 - 8)
Design management requires a wide range of knowledge and skills to be used effectively and efficiently. However, this doesn't explain why so few companies utilize and manage design effectively. Why is there a high level of mistrust between managers and designers when it seems that there should be a high level of interdependence?
Peter Lawrence, founder of the Design Management Institute, feels that developing a design management discipline falls into two parts: developing the organization and operating structure within corporations to take better advantage of design's benefits; and promoting understanding by senior and middle management and integrating design at policy level (Design 1982). Gorb and Dumas (1987), observe that many line managers participate in significant design management decisions without even realizing it, in what they call "silent design."
Mark Oakley (1990), professor and writer on design management issues, observes that managers do one of two things when confronted with design: either they ignore the evidence and deny the importance of design, or they acknowledge that design is important but leave responsibility for it to others. "Managers, who would not dream of being left out of financial or personnel decision making, may quite readily distance themselves from anything to do with design" (p. 6). The explanations for this, Oakley says, are both practical and cultural. Managers feel uncomfortable making subjective decisions about design quality because their foundations are largely in analytical disciplines. They are not prepared to make determinations of visual (as opposed to written) information. Another explanation is that interest in color and style may be regarded as "a predominantly female concern," which many men are unable to appreciate, and since upper management continues to be dominated by men it follows that a lack of design understanding endures. Stereotypes dominate designers' and managers' assessments of each other. Regardless of the underlying reasons, too much unsuccessful design occurs because managers have no concept of appropriate design goals and expectations, or they fail to ensure that design projects meet the right expectations.
That designers and managers are different animals may come as no surprise to anyone who has worked with both groups (especially together), but it may provide explanation for their divergent approaches to solving problems. David Walker (1990) takes an anthropological approach to the fundamental differences between designers in his article appropriately titled, "Managers and Designers: Two Tribes at War?" In this examination Walker points to the different outlooks inherent to the two groups. His first observation supports those of Oakley (above) that design is largely uncharted territory for managers and they are uncomfortable with their lack of understanding. He also mentions miscommunication, different goals and different styles of thought as reasons for their different approaches. Managers have a critical, analytical frame of reference, whereas designers stick things together to see what results; they are better at synthesis than analysis. Managers are problem-oriented; designers are solution-oriented. Managers see difficulties; designers see opportunities. Designers are rash; managers are inert. The very differences in perception, aptitudes, processes and skills are what make managers and designers important to one another at both a personal and an organizational level. (Walker, 1990, p. 152)
Kotler (1984) cites design illiteracy, misconceptions regarding cost, tradition--
bound behavior, and organizational politics as the reasons that executives are not more effective design managers. He then suggests a two-way education process for both designers and managers as a way to improve this relationship. Marketers and designers can both be split into two groups regarding design practice; functionalists (the right way) and stylists (the wrong way). Stylist designers, says Kotler, concentrate on putting good outer form into design, resist market research, and pay little attention to cost; stylist marketers, most notably salespeople, use gimmicks and gadgets to catch the buyer's attention. Both press for cosmetic features, even if they don't add to a product's value and performance. Functionalist orientation is based on putting good functional performance, quality, and durability into the design, knowing that the key to customer satisfaction and repeat sales is not simply attracting initial purchase but providing long-term satisfaction.
Regardless of cultural, behavioral, or intellectual differences between designers and managers, the most fundamental reason for misunderstanding between them is a lack of exposure to the other's philosophical foundations in their education. Dumaine (1991) states that, "Many companies don't achieve maximum (design) leverage because a kind of Plexiglas wall separates designers and managers. An executive may feel vaguely uncomfortable with a designer - the guy's wearing a suit, sure, but underneath he's an artiste wearing a black silk T-shirt. Designers are just as much to blame for the breach. Many, trained at prestigious schools like Pratt (in New York City), or Cranbrook (in Michigan), never bothered to learn the language of business, looking upon the whole activity as beneath them -- mere commerce. (p. 88)
This observation is supported by many writers on the design-versus-marketing
subject Archer (1976) says, "The cross-disciplinary languages and the common sets of values are just not there. The educational, training, examination and qualification systems are so different that it is extremely difficult for the subject matter of one side to be effectively incorporated in the syllabuses of the other, except as optional 'familiarization' courses. A second important function of any professor of design management would therefore be to discover or develop the cross-disciplinary languages, the common sets of values and the means for transplanting relevant ideas into other educational and operational frameworks. That is why there is a need for an academic role in design management, regardless of whether or not there is room for a design management profession. (p. 43)
Walker (1990) discusses the gap between design and marketing education:
The education and training of managers tend to be based on analytical studies (such as accountancy and finance); therefore they are not very well equipped to deal with projects which involve unfamiliar concepts, predominantly visual (rather that written) information, fuzzy problems, high level of ambiguity, and assessments which are, variously, subjective, personal, emotional and outside quantification. Without making design sound mystical, as if it relied solely on intuition and higher non-rational insights, it does have the quality of many complex human skills in resisting analysis. (p. 148)
Walker (1990) indicates that the discomfort that management feels regarding
design seems to be based in the traditional cultural divide in education: "Numeracy and literacy are rated highly, while the abilities which revolve around materials -- manipulation, construction, tactile skills, and visual literacy -- do not even have a name" (p. 149).
All organizations can benefit from use of integrated design at all levels of operation: product, environment, information and corporate identity. Design should be managed much like any other strategic resource. The main reason more executives don't use design is that they don't understand its philosophy, processes, language, culture, practitioners or potential. The next, and final section, of this chapter will examine the prevailing criticisms of both the design and marketing education systems to determine the validity of the above hypothesis.
Design and Marketing Education
A better understanding between designers and marketing managers could result in enhanced corporate performance and greater job satisfaction for those involved. Although design is a special kind of skill when compared to accounting and finance; it is an element of business, to be managed like any other element of business. Is it possible to persuade designers to become managers, or do you train managers to be sympathetic toward design, or do you create a new specialty of management specifically for design? Higher education could provide the means for resolving this difference in ideologies, but it doesn't appear to be doing the job now.
William Callaway (1990) provides the foundation for this line of reasoning. Higher education has perpetuated the lack of mutual understanding between those who emerge from the separate fields of design and management. The problem is twofold. First, there is a lack of information in each group about the technical knowledge and methods of the other; secondly, there is a gap between the collective culture of the two groups. At its baldest, the problem is that in management courses the product is taken for granted or ignored. In design courses, the physical object itself is central but the context of its production and marketing tends to be ignored.
The divide between management education and design education is both a result of different concerns - hence the absence of transfer of technical knowledge between the two fields - and more profoundly a manifestation of two very different cultures.
Management education is much concerned with those business functions associated with controlling -- especially accounting, descriptive statistics and cost analysis - and with analysis of the market and presentation of the product to the customer. The education of designers is essentially concerned with creating. The divisive effect of two parallel, non-convergent educational tracks, one about controlling and one about creating, cannot be ignored. (pp. 414 - 415)
Gorb (1990) outlines the requirements for teaching marketing management to
designers and design to managers. Designers and managers must first adopt a mutual lexicon. This is fundamental to fostering an understanding of the principles and processes of the complementary discipline, an enormously important task if design is to take its proper place in marketing.
Olins (1989) underlines the lack of a substantial body of support in the world's major business schools as a problem and acknowledges that part of the image problem suffered by designers is created by themselves. "Until recently," he says, "many designers seemed frightened to emerge from their own cozy little world, to learn new skills and broaden their horizons by developing non-design disciplines. They wanted to keep as near as possible to their drawing boards" (p. 148).
Design Firm Management reports that the design industry is being pressured to change from a craft-shop approach to that of a multi-disciplined service-oriented professional business. Many of today's design graduates are not prepared to participate, let alone compete, in this environment. Their education has been largely vocational, preparing students to get jobs and not teaching them how to be problem-solvers. Some in the industry complain that too many young designers lack basic business knowledge: budgets, overhead, billing, cash flow, and staffing (Design Firm Management No. 27).
Technical-oriented design programs like those at Stanford or the Institute of Design at the Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT) have become more research- and problem-solving oriented, emphasizing the process of design (de Forest, 1986). Some design schools have introduced critical-thinking curricula; information analysis and linguistic theory are offered in conjunction with practical exercises and abstract formal problems (de Forest, 1989).
The Institute of Design has introduced a doctoral program in an attempt to raise the status of design from vocation to profession. In this program students are encouraged to discover practical applications for theoretical studies in cognitive psychology or sociology. Other programs have begun to develop more broad-based curricula. Research has now become a significant part of the master's of science programs at The Ohio State University and the University of Cincinnati. Schools are now offering design history courses at the undergraduate level and graduate level in art history and American studies departments. In 1980, The University of Cincinnati began a master's program in design history but it failed to attract enough students. The Parsons School of Design in New York is the only school in the United States offering a master's of liberal arts in architecture and design criticism. The design field's search for credibility in the halls of academia has its critics as well. One design research professional stated, "The layperson's view of academia is largely correct. Academia is full of people doing trivial nonsense that is largely unimportant" (de Forest, 1990, p. 46).
Business schools have also been the target of harsh criticism for "turning out narrow technicians, conformists, and office politicians. Even the best business schools have grown smug, complacent, and rigid - and still worse, are failing to address the critical managerial needs of American business and society" (Silk, 1989, p. 9). In the late 1950s, the Gordon-Howell Report sponsored by the Ford Foundation and the Pierson Report sponsored by the Carnegie Foundation (Main, 1989) declared that business schools "were filled with second-rate students, taught by second-rate professors, who didn't understand their fields, did little research, and were out of touch with business" (Main, 1989, p. 78). These reports prompted business schools across the country to revise their curricula, raise admission standards and encourage professors to undertake more research. From fewer than 5,000 MBA graduates a year in the early 1960s, the popularity of the MBA degree has risen exponentially to more than 67,000·graduates per year today. Overwhelming success has caused business schools to become complacent, and most have not substantially changed their curricula since the early 19608 (Main, 1989).
In a Fortune magazine article on the future of business schools, Stanford professor Harold Leavitt says that a business leader today must have "three major talents: problem solving, implementing," and what he calls, "path-finding," meaning visionary and entrepreneurial talents (Main, 1989, p. 78). Business schools are now beginning to teach the human side of business, shifting their emphasis to include subjects like foreign languages and cultures, ethics and communications, along with the standards of accounting, finance and marketing.
Research supports new directions for business schools. Stephen McDaniel and Richard Rise (1984a) state, "In order to be truly responsive to the needs of the marketplace, marketing educators involved in planning or restructuring marketing curricula must solicit and carefully evaluate feedback received from the business community" (p. 27). In their study of 236 CEOs of major industrial corporations, McDaniel and Rise found pricing and product components of the marketing mix were viewed as more important than the other two components - place and promotion. Specifically, they found that the surveyed CEOs placed greater value on customer relations, pricing strategies, new product planning and development, and product management, and less value on areas such as advertising, personal selling, public relations, and sales promotion.
Jack Behnnan and Richard Levin (1984) found that business schools are largely responsible for the failure of United States' companies against international competition:
"They (business schools) produce graduates who are too narrow, too shortsighted, and too risk averse. Rather than problem identification, goal determination, and high values, the schools stress data gathering, manipulation of information and personnel, and problem solving. They are oriented toward bureaucratic management rather than entrepreneurship and toward tools and models rather than rigorous, qualitative thinking. They pay too little attention to the development of the individual and of interpersonal relationships." (p. 140)
William Stanton (1988) found that business schools have gone too far in
emphasizing courses in the behavioral aspects and quantitative methods in marketing and need to move back toward courses in the mainstream. The areas most in need of attention are creative generation of concepts and emphasis on the implementation stage of the management process. Stanton says, "In the 1990s, the need for restructuring in manufacturing industries very probably will place more attention on making the product -- in doing, rather than only planning" (p. 5). Dillard Tinsley (1981) recommends that four basic courses be required for all undergraduate marketing majors: principles of marketing, buyer behavior, marketing research and marketing management (Tinsley, 1981).
McDaniel and Hise (1984b) studied 75 undergraduate catalogs of colleges and
universities offering a major or concentration in marketing for the 1982-1983 academic year. Each catalog was analyzed to determine what marketing courses were offered at that institution, as well as what marketing courses were required. The results from this analysis were then compared to a similar study (Hise 1975) which analyzed college and university catalogs from 1972-1973. Their findings show that of the top 26 marketing courses offered in one of these two years, there were no significant differences in the two time periods for 15 of the courses. Overall, their findings supported the recommendations of Blackwell (1981) regarding a shift in the curriculum to a conceptual orientation. However, no courses in design or design management were mentioned. The only courses listed that were even "in the ballpark," were advertising, promotion, advertising/mass communication management, marketing communication, and product planning/management.
John Deegan (1984) outlines a new method for teaching marketing principles to students called the Product Introduction Process (PIP), a "systematically organized listing of marketing fundamentals" (p. 25). Again, as in the McDaniel and Rise (1984b) study, no mention of design is made, although under the heading of company image he mentions innovation in product development, market positioning, product differentiation / obsolescence technology, and product identification (packaging / branding strategy). In the marketing mix place component he mentions image / convenience, and under promotion / packaging he mentions communication.
Taking Tinsley's (1981) recommendations of the four basic courses required for all undergraduate marketing majors (principles of marketing, buyer behavior, marketing research and marketing management), a quick survey of the subject index and text of books commonly used in these classes at both the undergraduate and graduate level revealed two mentions of design as discussed in this paper (Engel, Blackwell, & Miniard, 1986; Kotler, 1991; Pride & Ferrell, 1983; Zikmund, 1991). To be fair (although, hardly scientific) anything that even remotely sounded as if it might touch on design was investigated (management, for example). Kotler's Marketing Management: Analysis. Planning, Implementation and Control (1991, 7th ed.) calls design "the integrating force" of product differentiation qualities: features, performance, conformance, durability, reliability, reparability and style (p. 297). The following three paragraphs from Kotler's (1991, 7th ed.) book reveal all that a business student might learn about design during the course of his or her marketing education.
"All of the foregoing qualities are design parameters. They suggest how difficult the product-design task is, given all the trade-offs that are made. The designer has to figure out how much to invest in feature development, performance, conformance, reliability, reparability, style, and so forth. From the company's point of view, a well-designed product would be easy to manufacture and distribute. From the customer's point of view, a well-designed product would be pleasant to look at, and also easy to open, install, learn how to use, use, repair, and dispose of. The designer has to take all of this into account and follow the maxim "form follows function." The designer has to compromise some of the desirable characteristics. Much depends on knowing how the target market perceives and weighs the different benefits.
Unfortunately, too many companies fail to invest in good design. Some companies confuse design with styling and think that design is a matter of making a product and then putting some fancy casing around it Or they think that reliability is something to catch during inspections rather than designing it into the manufacturing process. They may think of designers as people who pay insufficient attention to cost or who produce designs that are too novel for the market to accept A design audit instrument to measure a company's design sensitivity and effectiveness would help management gauge whether it is adding sufficient value through design.
Several companies are now waking up to design's importance. Ford is an excellent example of a company that improved its process and product design and quality. In Britain, the British Design Council reports that some of its design projects not only have helped British companies increase their sales by more than 100 percent and cut manufacturing costs by 50 percent but have also helped nearly bankrupt companies turn around and vigorously compete with Japanese and West German firms. All said, good design can attract attention, improve performance, cut costs, and communicate value to the intended market." (p. 297)
Kotler (1991) also briefly mentions design in his discussion on image differentia-
tion, regarding symbols, written and audio / visual media, atmosphere, (environments) and events (pp. 300 - 301). Engel, Blackwell, and Miniard's Consumer Behavior (1986, 5th ed.) mention design only in reference to behavior modification in retail (environment) and point-of-purchase design, under the subheading of ecological design (p. 192).
Business schools are starting to realize that design and its management are important to marketing. Last year, Harvard Business School introduced an industrial design case studies class for the first time in its history (Dumaine, 1991). In October, 1989, the Design Management Institute held an exhibition on ''Designing for Product Success" at the Carpenter Center at Harvard University. The project produced thirteen case studies which provided the foundation for teaching design management in business schools. In the exhibition catalog, John R McArthur, dean of the Harvard Business School, says,
"As global competition becomes more intense, new dimensions of competitive strategy have received increasing attention. One of the most important is design and the management of design. Even as recently as five years ago, most managers considered good design almost frivolous. They viewed designers as the people who simply determine the color and overall appearance of a product.
When the success of companies like Braun in Germany or Sony in Japan is analyzed, however, the significance of design to their company's reputation and profitability become clear. Design - from reliable performance to quality appearance - is indeed a crucial competitive weapon. Institutions like the Harvard Business School need to develop the capability to teach future managers and business leaders how to manage design more effectively (Fulton, 1990, p. 5).
Yet, Kotler (1991) gives design and its management approximately one page out
of 756 in a marketing management text. Engel, Blackwell, and Miniard (1986) allot one half-page out of 633 in a consumer behavior text. The marketing principles text and the marketing research text reviewed make no mention at all. Little is being done by either the design schools or the business schools in this country to satisfy the needs of business by filling the gap in both design and marketing management education.
Gorb (1976) discusses the need for filling this gap,
"I define design as 'a plan to make something;' which in a management context is the co-operative achievement of product purpose; and also perhaps information about that purpose. Design management, therefore, is an aspect of the planning process, through which organizations are run. It is my proposition that it should be (but is not now) the central and vital aspect of that process. (p. 40)
Management consultant John Graham (1980) writes, "Once a function gains acceptance in industry, the emphasis shifts from the heroes who gained that acceptance to managers who can effectively integrate the function into the business enterprise. Today, design doesn't need heroes; it needs managers. (p. 39)
Olins (1985) says, "Design is normally regarded as a jobbing task to be commissioned and executed - or not as the case may be - for specific products or showrooms or brochures on a job-by-job basis, as though each is a completely separate task, having no relationship with anything else that emanates from the company.
The idea that design has any kind of overall coherence in a company's life is not just rejected or ignored - it simply doesn't enter anybody's consciousness.... Product design is run by engineers. Communications are run by public relations and marketing people. And in many companies, environments are looked after by the janitor.... There has to be a design manager, who is there to manage design - not to do the designing. He does need to know some knowledge of design, plus tact, sympathy, considerable political awareness and a determination to win. Some designers make good design managers because they understand what design can do. Most, however, don't. The disciplines in which they have been educated rarely bring out management skills. Marketing men, communications men, lawyers, even accountants, can make good design managers. They need to be trained to understand what the objectives are and then encouraged to get on with the job. (pp. 64-69)
Despite the sexist language and a strong disagreement with the notion that even
accountants can make good design managers (anyone but accountants), Olins' point is representative of the design industry. John O'Toole (1980) feels, however, that designers (and other "creatives'') can be effective managers: "It is the harvest of their bizarre minds which is our only real product. And no one is more concerned than they are about the efficient production and marketing of that product" (p. 2).
Gorb (1982) and Olins (1985) agree on the areas from which design managers must be culled. 'The overriding priority in the effective use of design lies in management education, first with existing managers, then in the education of young people preparing for careers in management" (Gorb, 1982, p. 41). Gorb (1986) has also instituted a long-term study investigating the training of design managers already in industry in the U.K
There is very little evidence of design management education taking place currently in the U.S. The Parsons School of Design in New York has begun a program which offers a bachelor's of business administration (B.BA.) in marketing and fashion merchandising (White, 1989). The industrial design case studies course at Harvard Business School was mentioned earlier. These examples are encouraging but are not comprehensive enough to be considered true design management. Peter Gorb might be teaching the only design management class in the world at the London Business School.
The only example of academic initiatives to produce a fully integrated marketing and design management curriculum in the U.S. comes from Colin Clipson, director of the Architecture and Planning Research Laboratory at the University of Michigan. Clipson directed a project called "The Competitive Edge: The Role of Design in American Corporations," a study to research and document the role of various forms of designing in more than 400 businesses in the U.S. and abroad and to identify the strategies by which design can become a central force for improving performance (Clipson, 1990a). The main finding from this project was that there is a lack of inter-professional education and experience at the training level (Clipson, 1990b). Findings from this project were used to develop an experimental course at the University of Michigan that brought together students from the College of Architecture and Urban Planning, the graphic design and industrial design programs in the School of Art, the School of Business Administration, and the College of Engineering in a "real-world" problem-solving situation. Clipson surveyed more than 200 business and design schools in North America and found that not one brought together the education of business, design and engineering students, and none shared a common focus on problem solving and innovation.
In Clipson's (1990b) ''First Things First" experiment, interdisciplinary teams of students were formed as new product groups. The first task assigned was to develop a business plan. A problem that arose almost immediately was difficulty communicating between disciplines. Team members were not accustomed to working outside of their specializations and found it difficult to understand other professional viewpoints. Designers were slow to see the benefits of organizing the project along business lines, and business students were impatient with the need to explore several ideas before testing and eliminating possible directions. Other problems were lack of understanding of total business operations, limited practical management experience and lack of creative problem solving abilities.
The findings from the ''First Things First" experiment were interesting but not altogether surprising. The teams were shocked at the difficulties encountered in "real" project management and the wide gap between theory and practice in this area. Design students had little concept of real world constraints, only a primitive view of how small business works and few management skills. Many design students harbored an anti-business attitude that has long been fostered in design schools. Each professional group had little knowledge of the potential for contributions from other disciplines, and each profession had developed its own language and procedures for dealing with problems, which they found difficult to overcome.
Clipson (l990b) notes in his findings that ''Higher education itself is a major contributor to the problem, not just at the professional level, but much earlier when the arts, sciences and technologies branch in different ways and never meet again except when bridged by creative individuals" (p. 140). Students stressed their lack of contact with other disciplines and the lack of appreciation for the big picture. Generally, the students found the experiment valuable, but felt it contributed too little too late (Walker 1990).
Although it has been demonstrated that designers and managers need to develop better communications and understanding between each other, very little is being done by either design or business education to foster this cooperation. Apart from Peter Gorb at the London Business School in the U.K. and Colin Clipson at the University of Michigan in the U.S., there is little evidence that business schools and design schools are taking notice of the demonstrated need for design management education.
A "Catch-22" situation exists. Business and design schools have shown that they are willing to change to meet the needs of industry. But until marketing managers and designers understand each other's roles, skills and value, they won't see the need for their contributions, and thus, won't require it from higher education.