Just recently, PepsiCo hired away design guru Mauro Porcini from 3M. They tapped him to become Chief Design Officer. His objectives, to develop a design language and manage all of PepsiCo’s key brands from soft drinks to snack foods to vending machines. This is considered a big loss to 3M who has benefited from Mr. Porcini’s talent in many of their products and marketing.
So why is this big news? Design has become more of a driver of financial results. This is why 3M is sad to see Mauro go. Their gross revenue and stock price increases is due, in large part, of his and his department’s efforts. Design IS the visual interpretation of a brand’s soul. Today’s world is dominated by graphics and video more than ever before and it’s going to increase at an even faster pace. Technology has put design front and center in the consumer experience. Web sites, advertising, product design, videos and package design are just a few of the core areas where the customer experience is either heightened or disappointing. Just ask Apple how important of a driver design is to stock price.
Now, great design without a core brand philosophy behind it is just a pretty design that is meaningless. Kind of like an attractive person with no brains. Pretty to look at, but once you start talking with them, you’re ready to leave in 3 minutes. As Steve Jobs so eloquently put it, “Design does not mean vener.” If you treat design just as “decoration”, then it won’t do much for your bottom line financial result. Done well, customers, both B2B and B2C, will clearly get what you stand for and respond accordingly with their pocketbooks.
Great design must take its cue from the brand position. The soul of the company. Design sets up expectations, enhances the experiences and ultimately reinforces or creates your perception of the brand. This is one reason why you shouldn’t let your newphew, who likes to draw, create your package, logo, web site, etc. Millions are at stake and too important to leave it up to a relative who likes to be “creative”. Sure, he only charges $300, but is your brand only worth that? If so, welcome to the world of commodity.
In the coming decades, brand is, and will be, the most valuable asset a company (regardless of size) has. This is what customers, investors and employees are buying into.