Bart Breen's Reviews > Do You Matter? How Great Design Will Make People Love Your Company

Do You Matter? How Great Design Will Make People Love Your Co... by Robert Brunner
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May 19, 12

Read in May, 2009

Apple! (and some other companies)

"Do you matter? How great design will make people love your company" is a book that deserves attention first based upon the credentials of the authors. Robert Brunner, is a former Director of Industrial Design at (as will come as no surprise to those who read the book) Apple Computer. Since that time he has been a notably successful consultant with his firm Pentagram, which not coincidentally did the cover design of the book which is very distinctive. Steward Emery is a know factor as well. His former efforts include successful books as well as a strong academic and coaching background that emphasized executive team building and motivational techniques. Russ Hall appears to be involved in this project primarily to lend his writing skills which have been used to good effect in past writing projects many of which are outside this genre of business writing.

Based upon the collaborative efforts of these authors and their past successes, you would expect this book to draw primarily upon the design experience of Brunner, the leadership and management input of Emery and the polishing efforts of Russ Hall to help make the book understandable for the average reader, including perhaps the reader who isn't necessarily a business academic or design related executive.

In fact, that is pretty much what this book delivers. The title however, isn't completely accurate. Certainly the primary focus is upon product or service design and how it can either be just a component of the traditional product development, introduction and other lifecycle elements, or it can be part of what the authors term as "design driven". When the term "design driven" is used however, it means something more than just what you might presume. Certainly design of the product or service is the driving force, but more than that what is being referenced is a holistic, all encompassing approach that includes branding, marketing and making an emotional connection with your target audience.
Not surprisingly, given the background of Robert Brunner, there is an inordinate focus upon the electronics industry in general and Apple computer in particular. In fact, a quick glance at the index reveals that of the roughly 200 pages in the book, about 20% of the pages contain some level of reference to Apple. In some places the references almost feel like a mantra repeating and driving home the tie between the design process and the promotion of innovative and cutting edge products and services. Tied into this as well is what is more popularly being referred to as EQ, or emotional quotient elements in the marketing, branding and target population selection. Relevant information is given on all these areas.

This is not a "how-to" book however by any means. Guidelines are laid out certainly, but by definition, much falls into the category of the somewhat intangible. In fact, I was reminded in places of the sage advice of John Paul Getty to "rise early, work hard and strike oil." While not quite that trite, this book is going to be valuable to those looking for some inspiration to break out of traditional thinking. The contribution of Stewart Emery in this regard, is evident and it broadens the target audience beyond the CEO or Chief Design Officer of a multi-national electronics firms to include entrepreneurs of all bents.

For all that it has going for it however, some of the advice may well prove frustrating to those reading this book looking for things they can latch onto for their small or mid-size company. Sometimes the advice is as broad as just to hire outside consultants to get an outside perspective. Good advice, but hardly necessary in a book that some may have picked up looking for a little more specificity and yes, maybe even some step by step guidance. The closest the book gets to that is the advice (good as far as it goes) to build a culture within your company or organization to understand and move at all levels in accordance with the philosophy being projected here. Many reading that however are inevitably going to want just a little more direction than what is provided. Emery's guidance comes through in that context but the discerning reader is probably going to sense two sets of messages coming through and see some good general advice on the one hand coupled with some good cheerleading but then walk away from the experience wondering where to go from here.

A few side notes are worth examining. The book design and layout itself is a good argument for the message being presented. The use of bright colors, presumably expensive inset lettering on the cover and the high grade paper used along with the sturdy binding mirrors in a very subtle yet strong way the message of the book. Sweat the details. Over-think and do all you can to enhance the consumers experience. What would it say about the convictions of the author if their message about quality did not impact their choices and selections? This is a book physically designed to last and remain in your professional library for future reference.

It's a tall order to cover all that can be said on this topic. There's certainly a lot of value to this book and it's worth reading. Whether it will live up to the needs of those reading it, particularly those outside of the large scale electronics firms and service companies that are primarily focused upon, isn't completely clear to this reviewer. If nothing else, it's a good start to the conversation.

4 stars.

Bart Breen
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