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Bridging the Gap between Marketing Strategy and Design Teams: A Method to Facilitate Strategic Styling Decision-Making within a Company

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In order for styling (creation of a distinct visual identity for a new product) to be successful in the market, design decisions need to be aligned with marketing strategy decisions. Previous research has suggested a styling strategy model that focuses on the goals of styling (attention drawing, recognition, symbolic meanings) by considering the degree and direction of differentiation from the products in a current portfolio, the succession of product generations, and product competitors. Using these strategies may guide product designers in their styling decisions so that they are aligned with marketing strategy goals. However, research has shown that, while product designers and marketers work towards the same goals, the difference in the way they justify styling decisions can cause difficulties in communication, rationalization and subsequent dismissal of ideas by the other party. Marketers believe that knowledge upon which styling decisions are based should be measurable and generated from competitive analysis and consumer insights, while product designers rely on intuition, experience and observations. In this research we aim to bridge this gap between marketers and product designers to improve the strategic styling decision-making process. Through a case study with Crown Lager beer bottles we developed a method that measures changes in styling compared to previous product designs within the succession of product generations, as well as the differences in styling compared to that of current competitors. This numerical information is then mapped to market data (e.g., revenue and changes in market share). We show how the combination of these data sets aids in identifying previous styling strategy in terms of degree and direction of styling changes, and how this can be used by the design team to justify a styling strategy to marketers using the knowledge and truths that align with what marketers are used to. We contend that this method will facilitate improved shared understanding between design and marketing teams, thereby aiding successful styling decision-making in a company.
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Keywords: design; marketing; quantifying styling; strategic design; strategic styling; styling visualization

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: RMIT University 2: Swinburne University of Technology

Publication date: October 1, 2016

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  • The Journal of Design, Business & Society is a double-blind peer reviewed scholarly journal that aims to publish high-quality academic papers that examine the role of design in business and/or society, case studies, design critiques, and book reviews of relevant literature. Our aim is to promote cross-disciplinary research in the field of design. Therefore, in addition to design papers we are also interested in receiving manuscripts on research about design that are coming from non-design areas, such as business, marketing, management, health, psychology, social sciences, environmental sciences, and others.
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