Design Strategy: An Easy 7 Step Process


A well-thought design strategy is what shapes and creates excellent product designs. Strategic design is what businesses are looking for to expedite business growth against traditional intuitive designs. A strategic design group involves Creative Leadership, which usually combines a variety of components to bring about a well thought out product. In this sense, design strategy refers to the integration of several factors that are aligned to the strategic design process, which goes beyond the ‘beauty’ and ‘aesthetic’ components of a product. It considers the business goals and consumer feedback, falls back on intuitive thinking, draws from past insights, uses logic and systemic reasoning, and ideates feasible solutions to complex business problems.

  1. A Beginner’s Guide To Design Strategy: Understanding Strategic Thinking 
  2. What is Strategic Design?
  3. How can Strategic Thinking be Inculcated in Design?
  4. What are the advantages of using Design Thinking?
  5. How can Strategic Thinking help you become a more Creative Leader?
  6. What are the applications of Strategic Thinking? 
  7. Prominent Examples of Design Thinking at Work

1. A Beginner’s Guide To Design Strategy: Understanding Strategic Thinking 

Very often, people tend to mix the two concepts of design thinking and design. It is important to note the subtle, yet critical differences between the two, especially in the context of design strategy.

A. Design Thinking

This process involves conceptualizing and ideating solutions that primarily consider end-users while coming up with strategic product design. It essentially puts forward a set of recommendations while creating a strategic plan for a product.

B. Design

A design is simply the look and feel of a product. It primarily focuses on the products’ appearances rather than what goes into making them.

Businesses today require professionals who can think beyond the ordinary, consider the end-user while developing strategies, and build robust and long-lasting products that impact users’ lives. Whether they are engineers, designers, or marketing folks, every team today needs to adopt the design strategy approach in order to disrupt the market.

2. What is Strategic Design?

Businesses and organizations are looking to leverage their brand strategy design in order to make a mark in a fiercely competitive market. Strategic design helps in boosting a company’s innovative and competitive qualities by applying future-oriented design thinking principles into building a product from the core.

A strategic design rides on the latest market trends and data. It takes into account anticipated threats and vulnerabilities in the market. This enables designs to be informed by facts and insights. It also ensures that there are sufficient risk analysis and mitigation plans in place.

3. How can Strategic Thinking be Inculcated in Design?

Be it a web design strategy or a logo design strategy, or an overall business strategy; strategic thinking can help solve myriad business problems:

  1. It helps in identifying the most critical questions to be addressed by a business 
  2. Translates insights and converts them into actionable solutions
  3. Strategically designs and prioritizes the launch of products and services
  4. Connects the efforts of a strategic design group to that of the business vision
  5. Promotes brand strategy as foremost in expediting business growth

A strategic mindset, in a nutshell, is all about creating and executing innovative strategies. Here is a useful framework to refer to while applying strategic thinking.

A. Assess 

It is important to be conscious of the competition of a product. Equally important is to be aware of what you want to achieve out of the product, your customers’ needs, and how your product will help them.

B. Understand

This step will help you put down your WHATs and WHYs. It is important to underline the vision, mission, and interventions.

C. Learn

This step will help you lay down the HOW of the strategy. You can enlist all that you wish to try out as part of the strategic design and finally choose the best ones.

D. Act

Now you get to try out your options and ideas. This is a rigorous step of trial and error, combined with systemic reasoning and logic.

E. Evaluate

Regular evaluation and monitoring are the cruces of a great product. Keeping track of the progress and necessary changes that might come your way will help you make necessary course corrections and finally arrive at the most effective solution.

An effective design strategy helps creative leaders formulate the best plan of execution for the business’s growth. Using practical tools, a leader can come up with the most efficient and innovative solutions that can take companies to newer heights.

4. What are the advantages of using Design Thinking?

In order to get the most out of your design thinking strategy, consider four critical factors for success.

  1. You must lead the process. The creative leader needs to lead the design strategy process. A leader is the one with the vision and can thus provide direction and inspire commitment. It is important to link the product design strategies to the larger business goal.
  2. Enable people to take ownership. Encourage sharing best practices and creating a community of design thinkers as a transition.
  3. Trust your expertise. Use the framework as a reference, but remember to evolve and innovate from time to time. Work on building and designing new tools to support product objectives.

5. How can Strategic Thinking help you become a more Creative Leader?

A. Promote Creative Problem-Solving

Strategic thinking helps you view a problem from a different perspective. Using innovation and creativity, extensive brainstorming, and the formulation of new ideas can help expand learner’s knowledge.

B. Align Strategic Product Design to Client Requirements

Using prototyping, you can ensure that the final product you launch in the market has undergone several rounds of testing and iteration to ensure top quality and value. You are also more likely to meet clients’ expectations since they would have been directly involved in the design strategy through feedback and inputs.

C. Create a Collaborative Work Environment

A design strategy involves a lot of brainstorming, feedback, and ideation. This means this is one broth that too many cooks cannot spoil. Use strategic thinking to your advantage to create a sense of camaraderie in your team.

6. What are the applications of Strategic Thinking? 

The best part about strategic designs is that they can be applied in almost any domain. Let’s take a look at its various applications.

A. Strategic Thinking in Software Engineering

Software engineers use design strategy all the time to create innovative, accurate, and bug-free products. Strategic thinking is the key to software engineering. A product is structured according to the several components of a problem. This gives a better understanding of the steps that go into creating the product. A well-structured design follows some communication rules across multiple modules, which primarily includes cohesion and coupling. A well-structured design would demonstrate a high degree of cohesion and a low incidence of coupling.

B. Strategic Thinking in Customer Satisfaction

Creating sustainable solutions and optimal experiences for both consumers and service providers is another aim of a design strategy. Designers often break services into sections and modify them to suit all end-users’ needs. The last strategy is determined mostly by locations, needs of your target audience, and other similar factors.

7. Prominent Examples of Design Thinking at Work

  • Procter & Gamble – The FMCG giant revolutionized business strategy by harnessing design and strategic thinking power while creating its product ‘Oil of Olay.’ Deep market research revealed that a key segment of the population in the skincare industry, women in their 30s and 40s, had been overlooked. Using prototypes, pricing models, and store displays, it eventually captured the market with this unique offering.
  • IBM- The software giant is gradually integrating design and strategic thinking into its corporate culture. Its core component is the ‘Loop,’ a continuous process split into the three stages of Observing, Reflecting, and Making.

Strategy and design both remain the cornerstones of innovation and scalability. They help creative leaders make a difference in product designs and user experience by incorporating a design strategy in their product development process.


We hope our guide helped you understand design strategy and strategic thinking. If you wish to dive deeper into the subject of design, innovation, and strategy, you can browse through our Postgraduate Certificate Program in Design Innovation & Strategy, a 5.5-month online course built to stretch your mind and help you evolve as a creative leader!

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