What is design strategy?

A design strategy follows a little different path than the technology adoption curve that follows a normal distribution. We differentiate between six different design strategies: + Endorse; + Curate; + Integrate; + Economize; + Play; and + Refresh. Following these design strategies, organisations build sustainable competitive advantage by design.

This post was part of my presentation competing at the world’s best presentation contest 2010 (WBPC10) (closed).

As an emerging discipline, design strategy is an interplay between design and business strategy. Its purpose is to help organizations know what to make and do, both in the short and long term. We could say that a design strategy is a plan that helps diffuse design throughout a company. There are supposed to be three generic design strategies:
+ cost-driven,
+ image-driven, and
+ market-driven.

I have no doubts that design strategy is a strategic issue. Today, there are more than ever many known cases of corporations who have built a sustainable competitive advantage on design. The corporations that use design management as part of their corporate culture have the possibility of being market leaders through design innovations. And there are six design strategies—that I would like to present—to develop a sustainable competitive advantage. All six design strategies are based on the technology adoption curve and are divided between them with dashed lines on the picture below.

The technology adoption curve follows a normal distribution for people and time. From risk-takers that are Innovators, to a selection of Early Adopters, to understandable Early Majority, and then to Late Majority, and at the end of the curve to the Laggards.


The design strategies follow a little different path and are marked with different proportions or dashed lines on the normal distribution curve. These six design strategies are:

  • Endorse. This strategy explains the benefits and functions of a nascent technology to the world.
  • Curate. Here the created icons are selective in their functionality.
  • Integrate design strategy that provides solutions that fit into people‘s lives.
  • Economize. Drastically cut costs of production on already successful technologies.
  • Play. Is a design strategy to add value that doesn‘t depend on technical differentiation. And
  • Refresh. A design strategy where the existing offering is reinvented.

If you would like to support my claim, please vote for my presentation at the http://slidesha.re/aQkX9R

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