Brand and Style Guidelines – a promise of design productivity

Everyone in the company has a love-hate relationship with the style guide. The brand and style guidelines holds a promise of productivity for designers, developers and vendors. Having worked on style guides for both E*TRADE and PayPal, I considered it an operational role that required patience and grit to work with innumerable stakeholders across the company and delivering something that allowed smooth execution.

It is always a work in progress and never ready. Designers complain that it is restricting and Developers complain that it is never detailed enough. Having said that I am a huge advocate of the style guides because it ensures the vision, values, attributes of the brand are executed out consistently across various channels. There is no second guessing and the designers can be free to innovate on the interaction and experiences.

One thing to remember and set expectations for others is that “Change is inevitable”, so plan for it. Make incremental and planned updates that can be communicated to the organization and the vendors quickly.

Here are some of the resources to get you started on creating a style guide.

Designing style guidelines for brands and websites – Smashing Magazine
Brand identity style guides – Logo Design Love
20 top tips for designing effective brand guidelines – SAATCHI


Design Thought Leaders

Over my working career I have been inspired by a huge number of design thought leaders and I would like to acknowledge them. On personal level my journey in design started when I met Mr. Nandu Kavalanekar while I was a college student at Baroda Fine Arts. Mr. Kavalanekar is the founder of N.A.Modelling works which is an amazing workshop that creates working prototype of product – big and small and supports programs like ISRO and other government agencies by creating working models of dams, rocket launchers etc. (not sure how much I can reveal). Mr. Kavalanekar or Nandubhai as people call him does not identify himself as a designer but as a problem solver. Interns who work with him are initiated by questioning everything from how things work, religions are formed, economies work, societies operate. There is no small or big problem. He is and will be my Guru. 

So here is the list of other Design Leaders, my other Guru(s):
1. Nandubhai Kavalanekar – who taught me – if there is a problem, it can be solved. What is your purpose in solving it?

2. Nathan Shedroff – introduced Experience Design through his blogs when I was new to the field and over the years he re-introduced the purpose of design. What can design do? – do check out his books on Design is the Problem, Making Meaning and Make it So

Dr. Deepak Kanal – he introduced teaching by story-telling. 
Jyotibhai Bhatt – I learnt to feel wonder at various experiences looking at his approach to art, learning about people and using photography as ethnographic documentation method
Raffi Minasian – introduced rhythm of life about how we experience our daily life, people and objects around us and how our relation to it shapes our behavior, work that includes solutions and innovations.

Design Thought Leaders that have inspired me that I wish I had met or can meet:
1. Buckminster Fuller
2. Dieter Rams
3. Charles & Ray Emes
4. David Kelley
5. Tim Brown
6. Bill Moggridge
7. Steve Blanc
8. Steve Jobs
9. Jonathan Ivy

I continue to get inspired by individuals who design to make our lives better, meaningful and purposeful. 

Who are your inspiring Design Leaders?

Wearable Tech is here

I am a huge fan of Apple products but when I saw the title of the post by Dominic Rushe in the Guardian – Will Apple’s plans for an iWatch herald a new era of wearable tech?, I beg to differ here that it is neither Apple or Google who lead the way in wearable technology. Nike has been one of the companies that saw the potential of integrating music technology and then fitness technology in its product innovation. I think Apple and Google’s market share, makes them best poised to bring it to mainstream market beyond the music and fitness focused demographic.

In my opinion Experience Design would come to a full realization with wearable technology where the lines will be blurred between human interaction and interfaces. Wearing my Fitbit surely makes take a few extra steps and watch my calories and I can’t wait for the day when I don’t have to have separate devices next to my bed to wake me up, listen to music, make a phone call, get a reminder to take my medications and track my wellness. I crave consolidation and order so that I can look away from my phone, tablet, computer and just be. It is time to de-clutter life and experience it in a meaningful way.


Books on Design Strategy

I have been asked the question on the books I would recommend for Design Strategy and here is the list I have compiled. Top 3 are must read.

Business Model Generation: A Handbook for Visionaries, Game Changers, and Challengers by Alexander Osterwalder and Yves Pigneur

Blue Ocean Strategy: How to Create Uncontested Market Space and Make Competition Irrelevant by W. Chan Kim and Renee Mauborgne

The Lean Startup: How Today’s Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses… by Eric Ries

Mid-Course Correction: Toward a Sustainable Enterprise: The Interface Model by Ray Anderson

What Customers Want: Using Outcome-Driven Innovation to Create Breakthrough Products and Services by Anthony Ulwick

Predictable Magic: Unleash the Power of Design Strategy to Transform Your Business by Deepa Prahalad and Ravi Sawhney

Wired to Care: How Companies Prosper When They Create Widespread Empathy by Dev Patnaik

Building Design Strategy: Using Design to Achieve Key Business Objectives by Thomas Lockwood and Thomas Walton

Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose; A Round Table Comic by Tony Hsieh and Rob Ten Pas

Design Guide

Want to get an overview about Design today then check out this great site

by Wells Riley – Startups, This is How Design Works.

It does not cover all disciplines of design though it is acknowledged that all that is not found in nature and is man-made is designed. The question then is what is good design and then talking about Dieter Ram’s Ten Principles of “Good Design”

Do not miss out the links and resources at the bottom of the page.