outperform your competition

When the world’s most recognizable brand, appoints a VP of Design who then engages a design firm to build a company-wide design culture, it’s clear that design is playing a new role in the corporate landscape. Coca-Cola has hired Yves Behar, founder of the San Francisco brand and product firm, fuseproject, according to the newest issue of Fast Company magazine. Behar is featured on the cover of the fourth annual “Masters of Design”issue where the publication reports on the intersection of business and design.

The power of design is recognized by companies like Apple, Target, Proctor & Gamble and Nike, who really dig in on design. The rest, according to Behar, will be left in the dust by the companies that do. A three-year study of more that 40 Fortune 500 companies found that businesses that focused on customer-experience design outperformed the S&P 500 by a 10-to-1 margin from 2000 to 2005.

Behar, who is the designer of the news-making $100 laptop, said he wants to get Coke to think across all functions of the business, from a logo to a bottle to a dispenser to a fountain. The designer offers seven axiomsfor companies that want to get traction by design:

1) Design is how you treat your customers. If you treat them well from an environmental, emotional and aesthetic standpoint, you’re probably doing good design.

2) Design must be integrated throughout the organization.

3) Design is not a short-term fix.

4) You must be willing to fail at the design level.

5) Design must be driven from the top.

6) With design, the solutions to a problem will be different every time

7) Never ask the consumer about the future