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Designers can lead the way to new business models

Design is not simply a matter of aesthetics. Design methods can also provide an entry point for rethinking a whole business from the viewpoint of the customer and paving the way for new business models. Danish Design Centre is therefore launching a project that aims to create more contact between designers and businesses.
Designers can work together with a company’s management and key employees to explore new business potentials in an evolving market. Photo: Agnete Schlichtkrull, CC-BY-NC.

Publiceret: 11.10.2017
Af Lotte Malene Ruby mail

“We know that a lot of companies face the challenge of having to rethink their products, services and entire business model if they are to survive in the long term. Designers have methods and mindsets that can be of benefit to many businesses during that process,” explains Christian Bason, CEO at Dansk Design Centre (DDC).

That is why he is today launching a so-called “design mentor corps”, which will make more SMEs aware of the competencies that designers today have to offer.

The survey “Design Delivers”, carried out by DDC together with the Confederation of Danish Industry, found that many companies are uncertain of what they have to gain from purchasing consulting services from designers. Meanwhile, the survey also showed that design creates great value for businesses. The design corps is intended to make more companies aware of the fact that they can use designers in their innovation.

“The corps consists of 15 of Denmark’s best designers who wish to meet with a number of SMEs in the coming months. This could both be in the form of one-to-one meetings and as counselling at workshops for several companies that can benefit from each other,” says Christian Bason.

See also: The entire publication 'Design Delivers'

A good product isn’t enough

Most people today know that design is not only about giving form to beautiful products, says Rasmus Ibfelt, Creative Director and Partner at design agency e-Types and member of DDC’s board.

“Branding, for example, is a field that most companies acknowledge the value of - and that most large companies make use of to a large extent,” he says.

Rasmus Ibfelt agrees with Christian Bason in that many companies - including SMEs - can benefit from drawing upon the wide-ranging advising that today’s designers are able to provide.

“Many companies need to see themselves and their products from the outside if they are to develop. Today, having a good product isn’t enough. You need to know and understand your customers and the contexts in which the products will be used - and that process is something a designer can help get started,” he says.

See also: Engineers take care of design in Danish companies

Find the core of your business

Rasmus Ibfelt himself has worked with many SMEs - both in Denmark and abroad. They often approach him when they find that sales are no longer going as they used to.

“There are often very strong, passionate people at the head of these companies. Perhaps they have been leading the company for several years and can see that something new needs to happen - or perhaps they have taken over a company that has come to a standstill,” says Rasmus Ibfelt.

The company’s management often hopes that better branding of the company and its products can be the way forwards. But a new name and logo or a good social media campaign is rarely enough, says Rasmus Ibfelt.

“If you produce cargo bikes, for example, they don’t just need to be good. You might also need showrooms in five major European cycling cities in order to beat competitors and renew your business. And if that’s the way forwards, the entire company and branding need to be adapted to that,” he emphasises.

According to Rasmus Ibfelt, it is therefore just as important that companies find the courage and, not least, the resources to take the necessary steps afterwards if collaboration with a designer is to create decisive results.

Find the courage to take a leap

Charlotte Rønhof, Deputy Director at DI hopes that many companies will accept the offer to meet with the designers in the design mentor corps.

“In many fields, the usual business models are under pressure. There are constantly new solutions and players entering the market which alter the premises for how to create a good business. With new technology and a more closely connected world, it becomes more and more relevant. That is why we all need to think anew and bring new competencies into companies,” says Charlotte Rønhof. 

You can read more about the corps’ activities at www.danskdesigncenter.dk 

You need to know and understand your customers and the contexts in which the products will be used - and that process is something a designer can help get started.
RASMUS IBFELT, CREATIVE DIRECTOR AND PARTNER AT DESIGN AGENCY E-TYPES
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PUBLISHED: 10/11/2017 LAST MODIFIED: 10/11/2017