6 – the role of design in BDI

This exercise will enable you to think about how innovations are connected to brands and to discover what role design plays in both establishing this connection, and in making the innovation worthwhile or significant.

see page 51 of BDI.

A camera, an empty wall, 16 blank postcards or large post-its, tape, felt pen, and a group of four people.

Step 1
During the next few days keep track of the innovative products and services that you find valuable or meaningful. Take a snapshot of each innovation and print it. Then take four blank postcards or post-its and write or draw on them the answers to the following questions:
1 | Why is the innovation worthwhile for you?
2 | How is the innovation connected to the brand it belongs to?
3 | What is the role of design in establishing this connection?
4 | What is the role of design in making the innovation worthwhile for you?

step 2
All participants hang the cards or post-its next to the images, in the same order. Then, in the group, take turns to present your findings, and discuss the differences and similarities between them amongst yourselves. Try to come to a definition by completing the sentence: ‘the role of design in brand-driven innovation is…’. Once you’ve come to a satisfying definition that you reach agreement upon, you’re done… for now!

step 3
Upload photos of your innovations with your comments here, and join the discussion!

15 Responses Subscribe to comments

  1. G3

    The role of design in brand-driven innovation

    We looked at many different innovations and services that we found meaningful and valuable. What we noticed was that some products are basically the brand (e.g. Segway, 9292), whereas some were a settled product within the brand portfolio (e.g the Philips mixer or the casio watch). Some products were the pride of the companies (e.g. sennheiser headphones), others were merely a new direction for the company to follow in the market (e.g. Memorex iphone dock). However different the innovations, what they had in common is that they were helping us in one way or another to make our lives easier. Design helps to make these products attractive to us, whether it is a very functional attraction (e.g. the ikea bag), or an attraction of beauty (e.g the moleskins).

    [img]http://www.branddriveninnovation.com/wp-content/brainstorm foto.jpg[/img]

    This all concluded in the following statement:
    “The role of design in brand-driven innovation is delivering the vision of the company to the customer, by reflecting the different aspects of the brand in the product or service.”

    Oct 12, 2011 @ 12:03 pm

  2. Group 13 - Paper Planes

    During the discussion process we found two different types of how products where related to the Brand. On the one hand, some brands are specifically related to just one product and its accessories. Two clear examples are the Segway or the DIY 3D printer.

    On the other hand, we also got some insights from companies like Dyson, Nintendo or Go Pro cameras, where the role of design in establishing the connection between the innovation and the brand it belongs to is similar in almost all their products. For instance, while Microsoft and Sony where competing for faster and better graphics, Nintendo broke a new ground moving their efforts to the user experience and what with existing technology they could go for. The result, Nintendo Wii, a console a low graphics game with a new way of experiencing the game, using the movement of the body. Another example, Nintendo DS. In this case, Nintendo just approached a new target and give them a new function; Elder and Brain training games.

    Dyson it is also a good brand to mention. We will mention two examples: The vacuum cleaner and the Bazooka lifejacket. Both have a common point. They took existing technology used in bigger sectors and applied it to a housewares space. Finally, Go Pro refused some of the main characteristic of a digital camera which is the screen. Nevertheless, they focused on the idea to record moments that with other cameras where difficult to film. Successful result of a new combination of characteristics that achieved a new target group as well; people who enjoy extreme sports.

    [img]http://www.branddriveninnovation.com/wp-content/paper_planes_group_13_the role of design in BDI.jpg[/img]

    To conclude, the role of design in brand-driven innovation is to amplify the company’s vision in the brand identity in order to end up with products / services which meet the qualities or aspects they want to achieve and communicate.

    Oct 13, 2011 @ 2:18 pm

  3. Paradox 20

    We gathered a lot of different innovative products and services we found meaningful. A condition for an innovation to be meaningful is fitting the brand. The design language of the product of service had to fit the brand identity otherwise there could rise a major gap between the brand identity and the brand image.


    Besides the design languages the technical capabilities of the product should connect the brand. We found the Philips led lamp a worthwhile innovative product. The product itself is a technical achievement. The lamp produce comparable light intensity with a fraction of power consumption needed. However the product is a quite remarkable engineering achievement the design language of the Philips lamp still fits the brand. Thus without changing your light consumption pattern you are saving power just by switching to the Philips led lamp. The role of design in this product is essential. The design of the led lamp makes it possible to use the product in existing systems. A good example of a product fitting the brand identity: sense and simplicity.


    Another example of an innovative product is the Freitag bag. This bag is made from recycled materials. Normally these materials were thrown away. The materials are used, having seen service on the road. They are well-travelled truck tarpaulins, unravelled seat belts, bicycle inner tubes, and airbags. Freitag combines these used materials into a high quality bag. The basic idea was to make something useful from waste. This way of using waste into something new make this in our opinion a worthwhile innovation. The Freitag bags represent Swiss quality by using recycled materials translated into unique designs. Every bag contains a unique design because of the different pieces of tarpaulins used. Design for Freitag is very important to communicate their brand values. The use of recycled materials is a basic starting point. It is a part of the brand identity.

    *There occur a foto uploading problem

    Oct 18, 2011 @ 11:16 am

  4. The TwentyONEs

    The role of design in BDI
    Here, when we talk about innovation, we not only refer to innovation itself, but the brand behind the innovative products or services as well. Another remark is for different brands, the level of innovation is different and the role of design is different per situation as well.

    The role of design in brand-driven-innovation is being a starting point to build up a brand.
    We can find examples easily. For instance, twitter started with providing the service of uploading small text messages into Internet. They built upon the idea of delivering valuable information. Of course, they also enhance their services by providing more services. There are some other examples, such as Groupon, yeeyan, Joyoung and Douban.

    The role of design in brand-driven-innovation is long-term strategy to promote innovation.
    Eletrux is an American company to manufacture electronic devices. It holds design studio every year with the topic of what the life will be in 20 years. Many students take part in this competition and designed lots of innovative concept. The products are innovative, but the event itself is also an innovative action for a company to express their concern about consumers and design. What’s more, this action helps them to establish an innovative brand image. So the design of the competition is a long term strategy for company.

    The role of design in brand-driven-innovation is a tool to complete the brand promise.
    Philips has many examples of this role of design. For instance the new fryer they developed. This fryer meets the requirements of the market; it can fry chicken and fries at the same time without too much oil. This is convenient and quick, exactly what Philips stands for. You could also conclude that design is a catalyst for innovation as Philips designed this through the needs of the customers and resulted in an innovative product. Other companies that do this are Swatch and Ikea.

    The role of design in brand-driven-innovation is to make it possible for a brand to change.
    Warrior shoes had very cheap, good quality shoes, however, nobody bought it because it was old-fashioned. The redesigned product attained a better image in the market and so, the brand image has changed the brand from an old-fashioned shoe company to a modern shoe company. Another company that is comparable with Warrior shoes is Sanyo.

    The role of design in brand-driven-innovation is to add value to brands.
    For example, Nongfu spring produces drinking water. Now they introduced a juice and tea to their product line. This choice enriched the brand image and promise they have. They still produce drinking water so this is an addition for the company. Another company that has done something similar is Sina.

    The TwentyONEs

    Oct 20, 2011 @ 6:21 pm

  5. Team EFCOM

    The role of design in brand driven innovation is making this innovation meaningful for its company. A brand is a definition of the characteristics of a company or organization and these characteristics have to be translated by design when innovating. Design is the glue that sticks decisions and innovations of a brand together.

    For example, from a design point of view the Philips wake-up light actually seem an obvious innovation afterwards for Philips. They combined the company’s expertise on medical- and light technologies which have been resonating in the brand.
    Another good design example is the cooperation of Spotify with Facebook. This innovation connects with Facebook’s brand and it is design that caused this innovation to be worthwhile for every Facebook user.

    In these specific cases it is shown how vital design is to make innovations successful as a brand. In a broader sense the role of design in brand driven innovation boils down to the following; Design connects the brand and the innovation and translates it into something of value.

    Oct 20, 2011 @ 6:49 pm

  6. Group 11

    Innovation as a driver
    The notion what design means has shifted during recent years, from the noun being about aesthetics, to a verb describing the process how to bring essential value to a product, service or system (BDI, p. 14). This description explains what design is considered to be, but it does not explain how design can make an innovation valuable, or how design can connect the brand to the innovation. In this post, we will give two examples that demonstrate the role of design in brand-driven innovation.

    The communication industry is changing fast, especially the tele-communicating sector: from landlines, to mobile phones to internet conversations. Skype (founded in 2005) provides a software application that allows users worldwide to make phone- and video calls. It is free to call to other users within the Skype network, while calls to both traditional landline telephones and mobile phones are considerably cheap. Skype has proved to be very worthwhile, especially when calling oversees or to make video calls, since it saves money and can be used all over the world. The innovation actually is the brand itself; without the technology and application Skype would not have existed. The design helps to connect this relationship: the program has a very recognisable logo and light blue style, the interface is very clean and simple; the functions are self-explanatory and easy to use. Less experienced internet-users are guided with clear instructions by a test-person, and the large buttons ensure that Skype can be used by almost anyone.
    Design is the tool to make the innovation come true: the technology for the software exists and the design communicates the simplified version to the consumer, hereby fulfilling the brand promises: ease to use, fun, cheap and fast. Last but not least, Skype continuously innovates the software, which is again displayed in the design as a new feature.

    Another ever fast changing business is the fashion industry. Nike (founded in 1964) has grown from a tiny company producing athletic shoes to a world leading supplier of sport clothes, shoes and other sport equipment. Nike can now also be seen as a lifestyle brand. This aspiration is demonstrated in a special shoe collection, the NikeiD. It gives you the possibility to design your own shoe, in a short time, without having to be creative yourself. You can straight away get a preview what your designed shoe would look like. The online customisation service is a worthwhile innovation, showing Nike’s eagerness to always look for new trends. The innovation is connected to Nike’s brand identity and slogan, ‘Just do it’. And that’s really the only thing you need to do. Go online, develop your own stylish shoe, and order. The design of the shoe plays an important role: your NikeiD shoes are unique, but still recognisable as a Nike-product, because the model is known and the logo is shown on the side. Users can find a desired colour combination (customisation), without the worry that everyone around you is wearing the same shoes (individualism). The design makes the product unique, but at the same time you still belong to the ‘Nike lifestyle’ thanks to the design.

    These two examples that design is much more than just aesthetics; it communicates the innovation and connects to the brand identity.

    Oct 25, 2011 @ 9:10 am

  7. Group 11

    Pictures belonging to our blog, posted 1 minute ago!

    Oct 25, 2011 @ 9:13 am

  8. Group 12

    The final conclusion after the discussion: ‘The role of design in brand-driven innovation is the realization and embodiment of the innovation and therefore it also embodies the brand’s identity, promise and vision towards the user, since these were the drivers for the innovation.’

    In the end, all efforts in brand-driven innovation to create value are realized in and represented by the products and services that a company offers to the market. So the design of/in these products is responsible for embodiyng these values into something that can be recognized by the buyer, user, and the company itself.

    Next to that, it also has an influence inwards the company. Creating the brand is a two-way process and the products and services that are being produced also give further clarification on what the brand really is and gives direction for future innovations.

    Team Coffee-Break (team 12)
    ‘Get set for fresh perspectives…’

    Oct 28, 2011 @ 1:30 pm

  9. 6MINUS1

    Through finding examples of innovations, we identified the following roles design can play in BDI:

    Not only complicated products, but even everyday-day things contain elements that can be communicated to users through design and more specific through ‘good design’. (D. Norman)

    The innovation examples we chose in this assignment showed us design can increase the usability and simplicity of products and furthermore helps users understand and benefit from these advantages.

    Moreover, our example innovation also contain emotional elements. Generally speaking, products and services that succeed in incorporating these elements in their innovations can create sustainable value for both the company and the customers.

    The previously mentioned emotional elements are specific and have a name. They are the values, the philosophies, the ethics and the beliefs that are shared by both the users and the company under the Brand umbrella and shape the product/service/system. In this context, the brand plays the role of inspiration for both design guidelines and the end user.

    Design can aid innovation only when it is a result of creativity and when it is strategically well positioned.

    We identified the interconnection of brand, innovation and design. Now the designers have to enter the play-field, in order to actually make these connections. Designers play a key role and it is up to them to fulfill this role in understanding the ecosystem around them, ‘adopting it’ and using their creativity to innovate through the previously mentioned emotional elements.

    Oct 28, 2011 @ 1:44 pm

  10. Group 15

    [img]http://www.branddriveninnovation.com/wp-content/2011-09-29 12.26.55.jpg[/img]

    Conclusion after discussion:
    “The role of design in brand-driven innovation is translating the abstract brand (promise) to concrete products/services/processes/business models and connect the consumer to the brand.”

    In addition to this, we found that all the products that we brought had some kind of value to us. These values were mostly given by the design, which is fulfilling the brand promise.

    Oct 30, 2011 @ 4:48 pm

  11. peer2peer (group one)

    Our discussion is summarized in the attached picture.

    Oct 30, 2011 @ 11:03 pm

  12. peer2peer (group one)

    Our discussion :

    Oct 30, 2011 @ 11:06 pm

  13. Team Nine

    The role of design in brand-driven innovation

    [img]http://www.branddriveninnovation.com/wp-content/2.5 The role of design in brand-driven innovation.jpg[/img]
    Design plays a central role in establishing the connection between the innovation and the brand, the innovation belongs to. It infuses the innovation, both consciously and unconsciously, with all the aspects of the brand (core values, skills and personal values of the designers etc.). For instance, connecting the brand can be a product of a well-thought-out process, but it is also an outcome of the unconscious values and feelings of the company’s designers. Also design makes innovation in technology meaningful and understandable to the user because that is a part of the purpose of design: to make innovations meaningful.

    A brand that has a wide arrange of different products in different markets may risk its perception to become diffused. Therefore it can be difficult to determine the role design plays in establishing a connection between such brands and innovations related to them.

    The role of design in brand-driven innovation is to connect the brand and the innovation to each other. Design bridges the innovation of a product to the user and also bridges that product with the values of the brand. Design makes the innovation meaningful to the user. For example, a scientist comes up with a new material. This new material is an innovation, but without design it is not meaningful to consumers yet.

    Nov 02, 2011 @ 1:36 pm

  14. G-02

    Our discussion was focused in around 25 from different categories of products to see how much they were connected to certain brands. Highly branded products seem to have a higher differentiation factor, while less branded product don’t have that

    Nov 07, 2011 @ 11:10 am

  15. Group 18

    The role of design in brand-driven innovation

    For this exercise we collected a lot of meaningful innovations from our daily environments and had some discussions about design’s role in brand-driven innovation. We chose three examples two state our main findings;

    Coca-Cola Zero

    The innovation is for sure worthwhile because it has been one of the most successful product launches in Coca-Cola history. They adapted their products into the changing needs of the society. We are living in the fast consuming products era now, which leads us eating less healthy food and gaining weight easily. The fast consuming products giant Coca-Cola was aware of the fact that their products has a lot of disadvantages on this subject, so they introduced Coca-Cola Light in 80s. But since light products are more prone to be associated with women, a market gap occurred for men who care about their appearance and health. Then Coco-Cola Zero came to rescue. Coca-Cola brand carries the role of ‘being for everybody’. With the addition of Zero to the Coca-Cola family, now the brand is ‘actually’ for everybody: Light for women, Zero for men, regular for children and elderly. Of course there are no strict distinctions between these products and aimed target groups in reality, and it surely doesn’t mean one of the members of the target group would not drink the other product. However, more or less, it is the case. Making this distinction, states that people are different and have different needs according to many factors, therefore should be introduced with variety of products. The role of design in connecting Coca- Cola brand to the innovation is in the strategy behind the product and also on its appearance. Its black color, less rounded graphical elements and masculine font supports the idea of being for men but doesn’t walk away from the main Coca-Cola statement; being for everybody. Therefore delivers the message of innovation in a branded way.

    Drop Fruit Duo

    Can a candy be an innovation? It can be indeed!
    Drop Fruit Duo is a tasty mixture of liquorish and wine gum which is a consequence of design thinking and creating opportunities for new markets. The combination is original and reflects the brand promise; ‘delivering pleasure, quality and fun’. Red Band is a local brand which leads the candy market in Netherlands and Germany. Being local means, adapting the product portfolio and brand values, into the needs of customers of that specific area. It is not a secret that Dutch love liquorish, considering that they have the highest percentage of liquorish consumption in the world! Therefore Red Band was quite aware of their consumer’s needs and took a heart winning approach with combining their regular wine gums with liquorish. Thus, there lies their approach towards innovation and design; user-centeredness and an open view towards possibilities. Design gave input on what should be developed to reach the brand promise. Therefore design is the catalysis for the innovation which will deliver the brand’s promise.

    Google Maps

    Since the date it was introduced it became one of our ‘can’t live without it’ items. Google maps is a pioneer innovation because it folded our wide paper maps and put them all into one screen instead. Now it is too bizarre and even unthinkable trying to find a café, a hotel or a friend’s house on a large paper-map! Google is the top player of the search engines and now it is connecting the ‘searching’ activity to the physical world by Google Maps. Google is a brand which already crossed their brand description with their innovations and always trying to go further. Rather than Google Maps, applications such as Google Translator, Google Earth, Google Docs, Google Chrome etc. helps Google brand to expand their brand vision and conquer the visual world. Moreover these applications are used both on computers and smartphones which makes the brand highly reachable. Now we can say Google is not only a search engine anymore, but it is more of a software brand. Designing such products/applications obtained that leap of market categorization and expanded brand’s vision. Therefore designs role in here is leading the brand towards new opportunities. Furthermore, Google Maps allow people to have a panoramic view of a street or ‘virtually’ walk on that street next to some other features. These all are the outputs of design to connect the innovation to its brand.

    [img]http://www.branddriveninnovation.com/wp-content/IMG_0660 copy-2.jpg[/img]
    [img]http://www.branddriveninnovation.com/wp-content/drop fruit duos-1.jpg[/img]

    In light of these examples we can conclude that design has two roles in brand-driven innovation;
    – it can develop an innovation to a worthwhile product for the brand,
    – it can brief an innovation team about what product to develop.

    Nov 08, 2011 @ 10:09 pm


six − 3 =

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
Erik twitters:
Erik is reading
my flickr pics
looking for something?