How Nigerian Companies Can Use Design to Elevate Their Businesses Significantly
In 2015, DMI (Design Management Institute and Motiv Strategies completed a 10-year study with results that astounded many people. They had conducted the study to gauge the importance of design to businesses’ success, the results of their study were quite staggering. It highlighted 16 companies in the S&P 500 that yielded returns 219% more than that of the rest of the companies in the index. These companies were design-driven.
As important as design is in business, it’s valued has not been easy to define or even measure. Yet, time and time again, companies in Silicon Valley and around the World have shown, through their massive success, the importance of design in business.
To my excitement, I am discovering Nigerian companies have begun to embrace design in their products and services, operations and day-to-day running. This post is to: first celebrate them, secondly, show how they’ve incorporated design in creating stellar experiences for their customers, and most importantly give business leaders the much needed inspiration (and push) to start including design in their businesses, the companies above and the ones we will discuss have shown that it is definitely worth it.
First let me define design here because I know many of us think of design as graphics, logo design and so on. But when I speak of design in this post, I am referring to the basis of design as we know it. That is the foundation in which all areas of design find their footing, no matter if its interaction design, UX design, experience design, graphic design, product design or interior design, whatever the industry of design.
Design simply is the practice of solving problems. It is a series of steps that aims at solving problems for people (or users), these steps when incorporated in business brings about tangible results, companies like Target, Apple, Nike, Walt Disney and Proctor and Gamble are just a few of the companies that have gained from this.
I like how Jeneanne Rae of Motiv Strategies puts it, she says, ‘Great design helps make products and services more aesthetically pleasing, more compelling to use, and more relevant in a world that seems to change at an ever-increasing pace.’
Nigerian companies are quickly adopting this, and the results are obvious in their businesses, here are 3 of them:
Hans and Rene
When I discovered Hans and Rene, my interest was definitely piqued. What was this place everyone, both celebrity and civilian, was raving about? One day I fell upon them in the Palms Mall at Lekki.
Truly, this is a company that has incorporated design into their daily operations. First and foremost, you can tell that thought was given to their branding and brand messaging, if you look carefully, you can see a consistent visual and verbal language across all their locations (not sure how many they have currently, but I’ve been to 3 of them), their social media and product packaging. Even their staff, it’s almost like the staff has been prepped to act out their brand message. The entire customer journey has been thought of and designed to delight. The locations, especially their flagship store in Radisson Blue, V.I. has been created to transport visitors to a happier and more fun place. It is clear that the customer’s journey-one of the critical parts of design – has been well considered.
The results: In a few short years, Hans and Rene, has stood out, far and above the competition in the dessert/ice-cream category, the brand is loved by her customers, and I’m sure the numbers speak for themselves.
When GT Bank came on the scene, I’m sure most Nigerians knew that a different kind of bank had entered the market. Right from the start, one of GT Bank’s priority was the customer’s experience, I heard how GT Bank lowered the barrier to entry for people to open a bank account, by reducing the amount of money people were allowed to open a bank account with. The bank also didn’t shy away from innovation, using technology from the get-go to make their banking operations seamless, and more straightforward than most banks. GT Bank went further, creating beautiful and accessible bank buildings, disrupting what was the popular ‘boring’ look for banks in Nigeria at the time, other banks began to follow suit thereafter. All this led GT’s quick climb up the ranks in the banking industry, in their short 25+ years of existence, becoming one of Nigeria’s most successful and loved banks.
The results: Practicing and being design conscious has certainly added to their gaining massive profits, the Bank also became the first Fitch AA-rated bank in Nigeria, they also became the first Nigerian and African bank to be listed on the London Stock Exchange.*
Eat Drink Lagos
I’m probably late to the train, but I just used the Eat.Drink.Bot app from the Eat Drink Lagos duo, a few weeks ago. The simplicity and ease of the product blew me away. It is incredibly well thought out, and simple to use. It is clear that the product was built with the same care the duo behind the blog built their food review blog.
Per Jeneanne’s definition above, this product checks all the boxes of what design produces- it is aesthetically pleasing, more compelling to use and very relevant to Lagos’ food-loving audience.
Another key design practice that the team employed was to get user feedback on the product, even reaching out to tech-savvy individuals, to test the product and give feedback on how to improve it.
How you can incorporate design into your business
As I mentioned, design is the practice of solving problems for people. In business, these people are your employees and your customers. When a business focuses on user-centered solutions to enhance their both their employee’s and customer’s experiences, allowing an atmosphere for experimentation, innovative solutions happen as a result. I believe there are opportunities for Nigerian companies to:
- Take a people-centered approach to making decisions in business, this involves bringing in the ideal target market to test the product before it is taken to market. And then use their feedback to improve.
- In addition to testing products and services with users, leaving opportunity where customers can give their feedback as they use products, services and experiences, and constantly improving on feedback. Also creating a system where it’s easy to get user feedback and experiment quickly, this is one of the drivers of innovation and enablers of disruption.
- Encourage and allow an environment for constant inflow of ideas from anyone, from top management to entry-level staff, this opens up a company culture of innovation, as we all know ideas can come from anywhere, even more so from the people that interact daily with the customers (and these are usually entry-level staff).
- And of course giving more attention to the aesthetics of products and services.
Like I mentioned earlier the results will speak for themselves.