design as a tool for marketing and branding [symposium 2]

feb 3 2009

kara, carrie, and i led this symposium:

i picked this topic because it is so fascinating to me — that intersection space of design (obviously), media, social trends,  psychology, and overall visual culture.  a seemingly manageable topic for one class, it soon became an overwhelming morass of questions, subjective subcategories, and ambiguous boundaries (where is the dividing line between marketing and branding??)  it was difficult to keep this symposium from being just a laundry list of graphically interesting advertising campaigns.  to be able to navigate and present this topic in a coherent way, we implemented a kind of organizational scheme…

a ladder scheme.

a ladder model.

there is loads and loads to be said for this topic, all of which pretty much boils down to:

to what extent is branding just the use of design to connect to the consumer, for the purpose of selling?


To relate this back to danish design, it is interesting to see how various firms in denmark answer the question, why focus so much on design? Because denmark cannot manufacture products cheaply, their philosophies revolve around a high design content, to survive internationally in a competitve parameter.

novo-nordisk1NOVO NORDISK [industrial design, medical devices]:

‘design is what makes a decisive difference in how we stand away from our competitors’

gubiGUBI [furniture design]

‘design is how you distinguish yourself’

grundfos-logoGRUNDFOS [manufactures pumps]

‘design is packaging our functional product into an application range that suits the user’

max-bankMAX BANK [service design]

creating an experience – “service design has improved counseling, interiors, homepage, service…and added a bank cafe”

hummel-fashionHUMMEL [branding, fashion, textile design]

‘design tells a story…design has an ability to transcend the rational – and the intellect and evoke a feeling in the gut or the heart…and creates emotional connections between the consumer and the brand’

and a sentiment shared by all:

‘being danish is associated with positive values…a long history of furniture designers has paved the way for us by promoting Danish design worldwide.’

what really surprised me about the danish design industry is how avant-garde and successful the market is, but how relatively small and independent it is at the same time.  in other words, instead of having hugely corporate design companies and conglomerates, of the 5,000 registered design firms in denmark, only 1 percent has more than 10 employees, and only ten firms have over 50 employees.  the majority (86%) of danish design firms have no employees [meaning self-employed!]

some applause

> the danish design sector is growing rapidly with a 20% compound annual growth rate in turnover from 1992-2002 (four times the average growth of companies in other industries)
> denmark is ranked 5th in the world in number of design awards between 2001-05!
> danish pride: there is a strong loyalty to design services from Danish firms (61% of large firms bought Danish design services last year)
> sophisticated demand and consumption among general public – with world’s sixth highest GDP per capita, (middle class) Danes seem ready to pay a premium for high-end designer goods


One Response to “design as a tool for marketing and branding [symposium 2]”

  1. Hi,

    I am a BBA graduate, with focus on Marketing – Branding. I am working at PwC, Document Production department, where we brand and re-format branding of our clients. I would be obliged if I could get some informations about “design as a tool for marketing and branding [symposium 2]”.

    Awaiting your reply.

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