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New energy

Or how Designworks implemented a comprehensive design strategy to take three of its top clients into the future

If a business is not moving forward, it needs to change. Change is brought about by looking at the dynamics of an industry and providing a solution: design is the tool that brings it all to life. Design is more than aesthetics, and an equal weighting for both form and function has never been more relevant. It's a philosophy that has to be integrated into a company; but once it's embraced, it acts as a natural change agent, with the power to influence the way a business operates.

As a strategic design practice, Designworks seeks to transform business performance and help companies move into market spaces they can truly own. They define, design and deliver the permanent and enduring touch points of a brand experience; and fervently believe that brilliantly designed brands are the result of strategic logic meeting creative magic.

Design is more than aesthetics—it's a philosophy that has to be integrated into a company but, once embraced, it's a positive 'ghost in the machine' that influences the way a business operates at every level

Design is a powerful force that can energise an internal culture, choreograph the shape of a journey, or capture a sense of place and taste. It is practical, useful, makes things tangibly better, and can influence the way a company goes to market.

Here are three examples of brands Designworks has shifted into a more meaningful position, while retaining the elements that make them successful. All three companies have harnessed design thinking, broadened their 'design scope' and sought to instill every single touch point with practical benefits.

Monteith's: an origin story

Monteith's has been crafting its family of fine beers for nearly 150 years, all the while staying true to the original brewing process and classic beer style recipes. Renowned worldwide, Monteith's produces interesting beers that are made to exacting standards, as well as forgotten craft favourites.

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With the proliferation of more status-orientated brands and changing tastes, the much-loved Monteith's had become a little out of time. It was authentically old, but needed to turn that authenticity into a modern-day interpretation of its values. The challenge was to strengthen and deepen the brand by allowing it to move on a generation, giving Monteith's a wider range of fans without losing any of its rich provenance and pioneering West Coast spirit.

The signature 'barn door' label evolved to the appearance of a book cover; the idea being that every beer variant tells a unique story. Patterns were introduced for depth and complexity—much like the beers themselves—and the illustration changed to a more visceral photographic style. For Monteith's, design plays the role of reinforcing the craft aspect of brewing; the packaging and tone of voice reflect the care that goes in to each batch.

Conversations with Telecom

Refreshing the identity of a large-scale organisation was always going to be a challenge. However, Designworks has worked alongside Telecom on its journey to re-establish its credentials as the leader in telecommunications and to be the standard bearer for the category in New Zealand.

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Designworks repositioned the Telecom brand to put the focus on their customers in a non-corporate and identifiably Kiwi way.

Their approach was to create a non-corporate identity for Telecom, a system that envisaged the Telecom brand as a mirror, a channel where its customers are the centre of attention.

Designworks saw the opportunity to change Telecom's focus to its customers, as well as introducing design as a useful management and delivery tool, building understanding and continuity.

Everything was designed to be fresh and simple, reflecting Telecom's 'New Zealandness' in a way that only a New Zealand company could. Designworks defined, designed and delivered the touch points of the new Telecom brand experience—from the logo (a symbol of change, an expression of possibilities) to packaging, engagement programs and retail environment. Keeping the nation in touch, Telecom has its energy back with a literal spark.

Experience at every touch-point

Air New Zealand recently hit headlines around the world with the launch of its new Skycouch. The innovative seating option converts a row of three seats into a couch, allowing two adults to lie together like they would at home. The ticket price for buying all three seats is the equal to approximately 2.5 normal fares.

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Designworks collaborated in creating Air New Zealand's new cabin experience

However, Air New Zealand's innovative approach extends beyond the seat. The airline's product development team spearheaded the strategy and ideation of the project, enlisting Designworks to collaborate alongside several creative partners, including global consultancy IDEO. The design process included brainstorming, customer behavioural research, workshops, full-scale cabin mock-ups and mock 'flights' to test the various concepts.

The resulting customer-centric design included all aspects of the in-flight experience, down to crockery designs that limit bumping of neighbours while eating. The entire food and beverage service was re-invented, introducing the idea of allowing travellers to order snacks through the in-flight entertainment system. This flexibility follows one of Designworks' guiding principles, that experiences should delight and surprise, as well as exceed expectations.

The new cabin experience played a significant part in Air New Zealand recently picking up Air Transport World magazine's Airline of the Year award for 2010.