1 – reflections on paradigm shifts

This exercise will enable you to critically reflect on what you’ve read so far and also to embed it within your own experience and knowledge. Working through this exercise will enable you to consolidate your understanding of branding, innovation and design and their interrelationship, before moving on to chapter 1.

see page 15 of BDI.

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  1. Team EFCOM

    Reflections on Paradigm Shift

    We agree with the explanation of these terms, however this is how we were educated. As students we lack the professional and life experience to really justify this change in mindset over time. Even though this shift is taking place, still a majority of conservative perceptions persist in the business world. The Challenge for the future is to convince the people in power of the possibilities of this new way of thinking. Leading by example is probably the best, but hardest, strategy to fulfill this challenge.

    The opposing views stem clearly from a different context of thinking (mindset) and the basic human resistance against changing behavior. The mindset always defines the way an idea is perceived; e.g. a comedian has a different perception of what a ‘sketch’ should be than a designer does.

    Although we agree that ‘design’ has become more prominent and better entwined in the entire product development cycle, there is also the trend that ‘design’ is more and more becoming an advertising term for fashionable exteriors in the perception of the layman. Design as “value creating problem-solving” deserves its own term that is separated from this trend.

    Sep 26, 2011 @ 11:53 pm

  2. Paradox 20

    After our bachelor years, focusing on designing and innovating, we’ve come to the point where all definitions of these terms can do, depending on the context. As Erik Roscam Abbing states, both are referring to a process. In our opinion that is one of the most important elements to notice.
    The definition of the term branding, however, led to some discussion within our group. Perhaps this is because Roscam Abbing is focusing his text on defining the term brand and not to much on the process of branding. A statement launched by one of the team members is:

    There are companies (mostly factories or highly technical companies) that do not need to build a
    brand to be successful.

    However, after some discussion, we agreed that building trust in either a product, service or company as a whole IS branding. So even companies who do not know their spending effort on branding are doing so.

    Another statement we discussed is:

    The initial goal of branding is to give some kind of value to the company and users,
    but this might be used purely as an advertising strategy.

    An example to go with this statement is the water market in Colombia, starring two competing companies: Coca Colar, offering Brisa water and Postobon offering Cristal. Since Coca Cola was very strong, Postobon decided to launch Oasis water, giving the promise of donating money to education for each sold bottle. This made Postobon win the market back, but the question is: did they do it because they believe education is important? Or just to make a profit? Was it for the common good, or just their own?

    Besides defining the terms, brand, design and innovation, Eric Roscam Abbing describes the shift in meaning these phenomena have gone through over the last decades. We recognize this shift and like to share an example for extra clarification.

    The initial Mini, designed in the 1960s, was technologically innovative in its design, since the engine was placed in the cross-sectional axis, leading to a space-efficient design. The product was small and affordable, while being clever in its use of space and having very good steering. It became a fashion and even an icon by its lingering success in sales and races.
    Many years later, the BMW Group launched a brand new car, similar to the initial Mini in appearance, size and steering. Based on the “Mini brand” this car turned in a huge success as well.

    In this example, it becomes clear that 50 years ago, a clever design could enhance your brand; nowadays a clever brand design can enhance your product.

    Oct 03, 2011 @ 3:07 pm

  3. G3

    The first chapter of the Brand Driven Innovation explains the terms innovation and design. In general, in our group there is agreement with the broad statements. Figure 1, 2 and 3 are quite beneficial in explaining the shift in understanding of brand, innovation and design from past to present. However, a disagreement lies with how user groups interpret this shift. We believe that the theory and practice are not communicating their evolution to the users.
    Our discussion concluded that the varying perspectives on brand, innovation and design depends on the context and interpretation. The context depends on the offering of the company to the user group, while the interpretation depends on the domain of the main stakeholders.

    Oct 04, 2011 @ 12:55 pm

  4. Synergize & Co

    Reflections on Paradigm shifts

    The way of describing the concepts of branding, design and innovation in this book is absolutely recognized by our team members, but with a very important side note: it is understood from an industrial design student point of view. We, as future professionals dealing with design and branding, want this to be the image of branding and design, but the question is whether our view is the dominant one throughout professions and even within the field of product innovation. Can you claim to have the definition of abstract concepts like ‘innovation’ and ‘branding’ if your view on them is not the same as the view of the majority of the world?

    In the opinion of this group, the explanation of the concepts in this chapter can better be described as an ideal or utopian image of branding and innovation. We see the mentioned definitions as a goal we want to reach in this field, instead of a description of the situation at this moment. We read the title of the chapter, ‘shifting Paradigms’, not only as a way of describing the different views, but also as a challenge that we as future designers will face. A challenge of bringing this view on innovation and design into the business world and coping with the different views according to the idea posed in this chapter. A view, we think, that is shared by the author.

    The beauty of the discussion in the past few paragraphs is the fact that it validates the entire argument in this chapter. The meaning of these concepts is indeed shifting and changing according to the context you are placed in. and in our opinion, the main goal of mr. Roscam Abbing is not to come up with an exact definition, but to steer the global discussion into the direction of eventually agreeing with the viewpoint he offers in this chapter.

    Synergize & Co

    Oct 04, 2011 @ 3:25 pm

  5. Group 14

    In general we agree as group with the terms that are described, but we think that in the ‘real world’ innovation is still often seen as technological improvements. Many examples of websites were they talk about innovation still show many technological innovations, and not so many services or innovation seen as added value. However, we think, that by the changing role of design (i.e. within MBA’s) innovation that is about value will be get more important in the future. One of the group members also did not agree that design was a collective effort; he thought it could also be an individual effort.

    The different opposing views that people have are recognizable, but it is not always caused by difference of context. For example one of the group discovered that students of graphic design learn the same things about branding as we do, although some other group members expected at first hand that they see the brand as the logo.

    We agree with many things that are said in here, but we also have to add that we are educated within the paradigm shift, that is: we are learning the new way’s design, innovation and branding is portrayed within our education. That also made it more difficult to compare it to the previous paradigma design, branding and innovation was portrayed in. However, we also discovered that in the first years of the bachelor in our view the approach to design, innovation and branding was more traditional, but shifted more towards the new paradigma over time.

    Oct 06, 2011 @ 10:50 am

  6. 6MINUS1

    This chapter introduces three concepts: branding, innovation and design; and sets out to show us their unrealistic perfect form and context. The illustrations on the bottom of the pages emphasize this perfect view on these concepts and their context.

    But looking around and quickly analyzing different companies shows us that this way of branding isn’t always the way it is done in the real world. Regularly a brand is still just a façade of the company. The major shift of paradigms, as described in this book, still has to occur. We do believe that our future work context may be very similar to the situation described in the book. Being reaffirmed by this vision on the (near) future creates great enthusiasm among us.

    However, people still see design as an addition to something that already exists. We still have to explain people every day what education we are following and what we want to achieve with it. Although most people think so, it’ not like every design student is dreaming of being the new Philippe Starck.

    The new paradigms create great enthusiasm among us, but in our view this shift in paradigms is still taking place and again, it is our challenge facilitate this process.



    Oct 06, 2011 @ 10:57 am


    Today branding is a tool/phenomenon that is unbelievably important to be able to survive in the world of innovation. The brand image of a company is determined by the strategy developed by the owner, though as well formed by the user. The company’s strategy tries to live up to their values. At the other hand, the user determines the image of the brand within their environment.
    In conclusion, it is very important to keep in mind that a brand is determined by both company and user. In this way, we agree with what is stated in the book.

    Innovation is stated to be Hard, Risky and Fun. Though, ass hardness and risk bring stress in, for instance, an innovation process, it may not always have to be considered fun. We do not explicitly agree on the term fun as stated in the book.
    Innovation is about new technology, e.g. Nano Technology. R&D teams are working towards a more ‘makeable’ world, in which we can (for example) determine our future child’s gender. This causes an ethical discussion, and the term ‘fun’ is not applicable in this case; fun does not indicate how severe this topic actually is.
    Furthermore we agree with what is stated in the book.

    The way Design is described in the book caused some discussion within our group.
    We agree with how Design ‘in the past’ is stated, but these terms are still applicable nowadays: a design is still a noun and can still be the result of the design process.
    Design has become a broad term. It not only covers art and products, but anything which has to do (both verb and noun) with the creation of something new; a process, product, service or experience.

    The context partly defines the value of the terms ‘Branding’, ‘Innovation’ and ‘Design’.
    For example, Branding can be described from various perspectives. Looking at branding in terms of a company, the word is described as ‘value’, or ‘identity’, whereas a consumer thinks of expectations, logo’s and slogans.

    Looking at the various education models within our group, it is interesting to discuss the differences. We take TU Delft and TU Eindhoven as example.
    The Faculty of IDE started about 35 years ago at the TU Delft; a confessional university from 1842. The education model at IDE can be described as classical, using their own rich knowledge which is developed within the environment of the TU. The Faculty of Industrial Design at the TU Eindhoven uses are more pragmatic model. The education system there is built in 2001. It is based on the competency development of the students, rather than design methods from the past.

    Oct 12, 2011 @ 12:27 pm

  8. The TwentyONEs

    1) Reflections on paradigms shifts
    The essence of branding, innovation and design is very clear and could be described within a few words.. However nowadays it is becoming more complex and very broad. If you want to be able to discuss effectively you need pin point definitions.
    As other groups recognize the definitions might need sub-definitions. Like Synergy&Co mentions design is used so often and in many different ways it loses its meaning. And of course we, like all other groups also agree with the statements in the book ^^.

    Branding: “All supporting activities in a company – user relation to keep and build a flow (..of products,services,experiences,brand images,perceptions,feedback,re-purchase and so on).
    Design: “(re) define the essence of something”
    Innovation:”changing the rules of the game, to disrupt the existing system” (J. Buijs)

    The definitions of branding, innovation and design are always a narrow perspective on the complete concept of its term. People define branding, innovation and design from their own context, experiences and knowledge. It is also important to recognize that people want to define these terms from their own vision. What they want the concept to be and become.
    Some groups (e.g. SYNERGY&Co) recognize the gap between the definitions of ‘experts’ and the definition used by most people (majority). This gap can be bridged by academics. We are taught about both sides.

    Group EFCOM states the challenge is to convince people in power of the possibilities of this new way of thinking (referring to shifting paradigms). We think people know it works by now, however there are a lot of difficulties to start using, implement and successfully execute Design Thinking.

    Changing views
    The shifting paradigms about branding, innovation and design is recognized by many groups and many put it as a challenge for us as future designers. We should be enthusiastic about the challenge we face (as 6MINUS1 states), because together we will build and use the new definitions.

    Why are there these many definitions, and changing views more often?
    People are not always in the same context. Nowadays the world, society and communities offer a lot of possibilities to put yourself in many many different contexts. People are able to put themselves in many different contexts.
    In general we recognize different contexts categories on three levels: individual (personal); social (community); and professional (academic). Your opinion and definitions are subject to the prevailing definition of the context you are in at that moment, this could be compared to group pressure, the context influences and sets direction for your definition. Being part of different contexts you experience different inputs and people need to translate those to their own individual context. Meaning your opinion and definitions are probably a mixture of prevailing definitions you see and experience outside.

    by The TwentyONEs – who get it done

    Oct 13, 2011 @ 12:35 pm

  9. Team Coffee-break

    To someone in a R&D division, innovation could mean a technical breakthrough, while to someone in marketing, it could mean a new marketing gimmick. Similar variance in interpretation by people from different domains, applies to design and branding too. Mr. Eric has rightly chosen to define the three terms at the very outset, so as to bring readers of the book with different background to the same level of understanding about the three key terms.

    Below we examine how the meaning of the terms has changed over time:

    Branding – Even today many people consider branding as the front end of an organization, or even worse, just the logo of a company. But in corporate circles, branding is increasingly being seen as referring to the DNA of an organization, which drives everything of the company – from business decisions and product innovation to employee behaviour. For example, even the error screen (see picture)on the website of IDEO, world’s leading design consultancy, is playful and innovative, exuding essence of the IDEO brand!

    Innovation – Innovation in the past generally referred to product ideas or improvements that made our life better. Today, it stands for creating sustainable value in any domain. For example, the idea of selling small quantities of products (eg. shampoo sachet) to consumers with low disposable incomes in Bottom of Pyramid markets was a great innovation. It helped the low-income consumers enjoy the benefits of new age consumer goods and opened up a new market segments for the companies, thus creating sustainable value for both, the buyer and the seller.
    Design – In past design meant the synthesis of a form (product) having requisite functions. Today, the term design applies to a much broader context (business model, service etc.), and refers to the process of finding out solution to any problem using synthesis and analysis. For example, a business consultant can design the organizational structure of a company.

    Team Coffee-break (Group 12)
    ‘get set for fresh perspectives…’

    Oct 13, 2011 @ 6:05 pm

  10. Paper Planes

    As the terms brand, innovation and design have been elaborately discussed over time it makes logical sense that the meaning shifted over time. Where in the past competition was less, people focused more on the physical difference between products, today in the saturated market the augmented product (or brand) becomes more important. Therefore the meaning of the brand had less impact then today. Branding means more than giving something a name. It should not only give answer to the question about who is the creator but more why he created it. Branding can be explicit by showing the name and logo of the brand on a shirt, but a political party or even a religion can be seen as a brand. The brand /religion sets guidance to the people involved, it has its own way of expressing their believes and has rules to follow. To what extend the products of the brand are an innovation largely depends on the viewpoint on the issue. For example the introduction of the first electric car can be very innovative or shocking for a pump attendant but can be a logical next step on the current cars for car designers.

    Oct 15, 2011 @ 10:43 am

  11. LeCON7

    The shift in meaning of branding is said to be ‘grown from within the company’ whilst being ‘co-created by company and user’ and ‘connected to their owner and user’. The first and second are partially contradictory. Co-creation involves input from both sides, and therefore a brand cannot be grown fully from within a company. We believe that the brand-meaning is grown from within a brand, this is the general direction, and users decide on the brand-context. Users do not actively create a brand, they perceive the brand itself as the former definition and link their experiences to such a brand. To conclude, the second and fourth statement from the table should be changed to comprises of both company, products and users’. In this way, the consumers do influence a brand and they are linked and connected to a brand, but most consumers will not realise this themselves.
    Innovation is said to be mainly about creating value. This view is very acceptable from an industrial design perspective, yet people from business might be opposed to it due to the fact that it turns their classical view down. Business is about control, and this view of innovation might lead to better results, yet the means of creativity for supporting innovation is different from the classical widely approved models and might therefore experience some resistance before being adapted.
    Design in the ‘new’ definition is still quite restricted. In the former it is mentioned as ‘about aesthetics’, in the ‘new’ column it is mentioned as ‘aesthetics, etc etc’. This list still focuses mainly on the design of things. The phrase ‘about processes, products, services and experiences’ gives a better view on what design is about.The shift in the perception of design as a product to being considered now as an experience can be recognized from the increased awareness and execution of service design.

    Oct 18, 2011 @ 8:52 am

  12. - shiqi -

    Reading the book we wondered if branding is everything. The vision about a brand is mostly communicated trough innovation, but we actually believe that innovation is not purely based on branding. There are successful companies that are not aware of good branding but do innovate. Therefore branding is not absolute necessary for innovation.

    We distinguish a difference between smaller brands/companies and bigger brands/companies. Within bigger brands it is very important to have a clear vision where the brand stands for, for everyone within the company and also for the consumers. The brand, where it stands for, gives guidance to all her employees. In smaller brands the weight of the brand could be less. The employees are closer to each other, so the chance that people differ in interpretation about the brand vision is less.

    Branding is indeed very important. But we missed the view from another angle. There is more than only the brand that makes the company successful. In this chapter, there is a sense that innovation is everything for a brand and it focuses less on other aspects. The company maybe good with branding but if (some of) the products are a fiasco the company would not gain a lot of profit. The design (the looks) is also very important. As stated later in the book, design is not only about how a product looks, but it is important for the image of the brand and its success.

    Not every consumer will be persuaded with a good brand strategy. A brand can have a perfect brand strategy and some very good visions, but consumers will also (and most likely) take a good design into account when they decide to buy new products.

    Oct 18, 2011 @ 10:42 am

  13. Group 11

    Before we start talking about brand-driven innovation it is important to define the terms branding, innovation and design. A good and shared understanding of these terms within our team will contribute to a fruitful discussion on “where branding, innovation and design meet”.

    Since the topic of branding is new to of all of us, we cannot judge the definition given by the author. Branding is not only a logo, but it is about the company’s values and vision, translated in their way of working and products or services. If this corresponds with the image the customers have of the particular company, we think their branding is successful.

    Innovation is defined as creating “sustainable value”. This implies that innovating is supposed to be good. While we suggest innovation can also be harmful: what is good for person A doesn’t have to be for person B. For instance, moving the production of your products to India could add sustainable value to the globalisation of your company and the government and people of India, but doesn’t automatically lead to better working conditions for the Indian employees which will eventually does no good for your brand image.

    How you define design depends on your background. From a professional point of view, it matches with the definition given by the author in the context of brand-driven innovation; it is much broader then products and aesthetics alone. But from an outsider’s perspective, design is seen as products that just look nice and fancy. This conflicting definition is well illustrated by design museums. In Copenhagen you have the Design Museum Denmark (http://designmuseum.dk/), exhibiting a large amount of chairs, porcelain and objects from the past, while the Danish Design Centre (http://www.ddc.dk/) will learn you about the design process, sustainability and the user-centred approach. We don’t mind this duality to exist; we think it is very understandable to think about design in the more traditional way. Like the author states, the definition is changing. Despite, we think what he calls a current definition (design in a broader sense), should be the future. To get this definition accepted by more people then professionals only, some time and effort is still needed.

    Oct 18, 2011 @ 12:34 pm

  14. Group 15

    We agree on the explanations of branding, innovation and design, especially regarding the description of ‘innovation’. It is true that innovation does not necessarily has to do with new and complex technology, but the use of existing technology could be as much of an innovation. We also think that some lo-tech products could be more ‘innovative’ than some hi-tech products.

    Though, we do believe that our consent to the explanations has to do with our education; this view of the terms is what we have been taught and/or is also the only version we know of, hence we find it difficult to oppose these explanations.

    The various opposing views that people have when describing the three terms are not new to us and we also understand the opposing views but we find them conservative and narrow. The reason for their views might be because they were taught in another way and of course it has to do with what context they use the terms in. For example, ‘branding’ has mainly been used for marketing purpose for a very long time, hence it is a ‘marketing term’ for many people without designer background, while strategic designers will not solely restrict ‘branding’ to the marketing department, but also integrate it into other departments. Another example is the classic and common view of ‘design’ as an useless artefact with an aesthetic touch, which is completely different from our own view on ‘design’. This shows that the view on the terms can differ a lot depending on kind of education, experience of the terms and in what context you are using them.

    The way the meaning of the terms has shifted over time are recognisable for us, but has never really been declared so clearly, as in the introduction chapter, before. The terms have without a doubt become broader since they are being introduced to departments that these terms seldom were used in. The terms are now also connected to and overlapping each other. As industrial design students, we never thought that business and design could go hand-in-hand, but these paradigm shifts have given us a greater perception of the terms and the shifts can connect the different ‘languages’. A concrete example of the overlapping of the terms is the Senz umbrella where innovation and design are bonded together to create functionality. Another example of the shifts in practice is once again how the general perception of innovation has changed over time considering hi-tech and lo-tech products.

    We believe paradigm shifts happen all the time (probably even right now), but maybe not very visibly.

    Oct 26, 2011 @ 5:30 pm

  15. Group 18

    Shifting paradigms

    After only having read the introduction, we had many discussions about what was exactly meant by the words branding, innovation and design. Now, having read the entire book, we view the meaning of these words in another way than we did in the beginning. This could already be a proof of the fact that people have indeed really different views of the meaning of these words. Here, we will describe the first reactions we had when being confronted with this way of defining the words.

    First of all we would like to state that almost all of us considered the brand – before the lectures of this course and before reading this book –as an expression in the fields of graphic design, advertising and packaging design. When reading this chapter we realise that the brand is not just the set of values which people outside the company give the brand, but it also entails the activities and mindsets within the company.
    Some people argued that it was confusing to explain the word ‘brand’ while the name of the paragraph is called ‘branding’. Where the word ‘brand’ represents the set of values, insights or vision a company has, the word ‘branding’ refers to the way the organisation behaves. We concluded that the confusion came from the fact that some of us understood ‘branding’ as the activity of creating the brand. However, if we understood correctly Erik Roscam Abbing considers branding being the usage of the brand; the way the organisation acts upon its values. Therefore, we can understand and agree with the decision of naming the paragraph ‘branding’.

    Since we all have a background in Strategic Product Design we are familiar with the concept of innovation in the broader sense of the word, as explained by Erik Roscam Abbing. We do like to emphasize though that for people who read this book without this background it is probably an interesting thing that he states here that the users never see some of the results of innovation because they are internal innovations. We believe many people tend to forget this.
    With the choice of the word ‘innovation’ as a heading a comparable discussion raised as did with the choice of the heading ‘branding’. Some people argued that if the word ‘innovation’ is indeed mend to describe the process of innovation, it would perhaps be better to call it innovating. Where the word ‘innovation’ stands for the outcome of the process, the word ‘innovating’ refers to the process itself. However, the paragraph does describe what is understood with the outcome of the process – a product, a new technology, a process, a service or a business model. The rest of the book mainly describes the process of which the outcome is made clear in this paragraph. Therefore we do agree with the word ‘innovation’ as a heading.

    Design as described by Erik Roscam Abbing is “a creative process that defines the essence of objects, expression, services and environments.” However, since there are already so many interpretations of the word ‘design’, using the word as being a process makes it even more difficult. Moreover, when he describes what he means with design as a verb he says: “when we say ‘design’, we usually mean designing as a practical activity or conceptual process.” Therefore we suggest that if you would use the word ‘designing’ to describe the process of designing, it would make it easier to immediately understand the meaning of the word.
    What we do like about his definition is the fact that he does not state ‘this is it’, but gives a certain framework of what design could be; he refers to it as being an elastic concept. We often experience the different meanings people have attached with the word ‘design’ as well. When talking about design with someone from our own faculty you don’t have to explain that you mean ‘design’ in this elastic concept kind of way. If you are in an art museum however, the word ‘design’ immediately gets another meaning; it becomes a synonym for ‘well shaped product’ or ‘master piece’. We believe that the word design can have a different meaning in different kinds of settings – aesthetics, interaction, functionality, usability, construction, meaning, etc. – and since the BDI method is applicable to all these different meanings of the word, we agree strongly with the way he defines it.

    Nov 01, 2011 @ 11:18 am

  16. Team Nine

    Reflections on shifting paradigms

    We agree with how the terms brand, innovation and design are explained in the chapter. The explanations of the terms in the context of brand-driven innovation are not supposed to define them as the absolute truth that is why a disagreement of the terms is pointless.

    We understand that the context defines the way that someone understands the terms. However we also believe that cultural background and language differences influence the perception of the terms. For instance, in Sweden the general perception of the term design is about the aspect or aesthetics of a product or service. On the other hand, in English speaking countries the meaning of the term is broader an also includes constructing, creating. Therefore it is also more of a challenge for the meaning of the term design to shift in non-English speaking countries. Although this challenge is easier for the other terms (we believe that the general perceptions of the terms brand and innovation are less defined), the cultural and language differences still influences the meanings and paradigm shifts of them.

    We recognize that there has been paradigm shift in the fields of branding, innovation and design, though this is something that has been taught to us in university rather than because of our own experience. How can we be certain that there has actually been a paradigm shift in the meaning of the terms brand, innovation and design? For whom has this paradigm shift been experienced by?

    The meanings of the terms have probably shifted over the last few decades but you can argue that this shift is limited in certain contexts. As it is stated in the chapter, to some the term brand is seen as the logo of a company. This exemplifies that the definition of the term brand has been constant for some people.

    We believe that also the mindset influences the way that the terms design, brand and innovation are perceived. The mindset can either widen or narrow the meaning of the terms. For example when you are buying a sofa, your mindset may affect you in a way that you will define design as the aesthetics of an object. When you are in a different context, say for example when you are designing a product, you will have a different mindset and therefore perceive the term design in a broader sense as when you were buying a sofa.

    Nov 02, 2011 @ 12:42 pm


two + = 6

about this blog
this is Erik Roscam Abbing's blog on topics relating to the synergy between branding, innovation and design. Erik is a consultant (www.zilverinnovation.com), teacher (www.io.tudelft.nl), and frequent speaker on the topic of Brand Driven Innovation. He is also the author of the book by the same title, to appear in autumn 2010 at www.avabooks.ch. For inquiries, contact erik at erik at zilverinnovation.com
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