Designing Beautiful Business

8 min read

They say beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder. And beauty is ascribed to people, objects and situations that bring pleasure. If this is true, in business, pleasure in the eyes of the beholder is the experience customers feel when engaging with your brand.

A business that delivers experiences that consistently exudes the feeling of pleasure by evoking senses of the customers' is a beautiful business.

Philosophers like George Santayana and Thomas Aquinas have long explored the notion of beauty; to understand what constitutes beauty, as it is, by itself. The philosophy of beauty does not belong to the realm of aesthetic, but is also present in business, connected by design.

A 13th century philosopher, Thomas Auinas stated that beauty has three qualities: integrity, harmony and radiance. A business that delivers experiences that gives pleasure to customers is a beautiful business because it possesses all three qualities. It is connected by design through design principles and elements that judge how beautiful a business is.

Businesses that seek to gain competitive advantage through value differentiation need to be aware of the qualities of beauty and apply design principles to guide them on designing strategy and management to deliver differentiated offerings and experiences to customers. 

The future of business is directly linked to the evolution of design. As the role of design is rapidly changing, design has been increasingly influencing how businesses think and operate. The role of design in business is more than creating mere beauty as an end, but to create beauty as a mean. Beauty as a mean to an end is a beautiful business, not only producing a beautiful product.           

The notion of beauty has three qualities that determine the sense of beauty. The three qualities of beauty are integrity, harmony and radiance. These 3 qualities of beauty are success indicators of what makes a beautiful business that delivers delightful experiences.

Integrity is the consistency of values, principles and patterns. In business, integrity is the consistency carrying out vision, purpose, brand values, methods, and principles into actions, expectations and outcomes.

Harmony is the combination and arrangement of different elements at the same space to produce pleasing aesthetic. In business, harmony is the orchestration of touchpoints to deliver innovation and customer experience from back-end operations through an integrated process with silos.

Radiance is shining brightly showing an aesthetic quality of pleasure. In business, radiance is differentiation of value offerings, brands and strategy that enable competitive advantage to win market share and mind share.

Deepening the context, design principles exist to guide what makes a good design, as design is the manifestation of beauty. The design principles are balance, repetition, contrast, dominance, proportion, unity, hierarchy, and gradation.

To apply these principles in business, there are four lenses that translates beauty in business through design principles; strategy, management, brand, and innovation. The lenses provide insights on how design principles are the indicators that measures the beauty potential of a business and how well a business is designed.

Balance (Expectations)

- Strategy: Are we balancing short-term rewards and long-term growth?

- Management: Are we balancing in developing existing capabilities versus bringing new capabilities?

- Brand: Do we have a balanced brand voice and initiatives from between the business versus the customers?

- Innovation: Are we balancing our innovation efforts through inside-out and outside-in approaches?

Repetition (Process)

- Strategy: Do we have viable business models that allow us to scale?

- Management: Do we have processes that allow us to scale operations?

- Brand: Are we communicating our message consistently to our customers?

- Innovation: Do we have an innovation process that enables us to continuously innovate?

Contrast (Differentiation)

- Strategy: Do we have a differentiated strategy that increases our competitive advantage?

- Management: Do we have effective policies and cultures to deliver brand innovation

- Brand: Are we delivering brand experiences that delight our customers’ senses

- Innovation: Do we have value offerings that are different and create positive impact?

Dominance (Advantage)

- Strategy: Do we have an effective go-to-market strategy that capture market share

- Management: Are we using our resources to maximize results while minimizing waste

- Brand: Do we have effective brand initiatives to gain mindshare of customers?

- Innovation: Are we delivering customer experiences that delight their senses and earn their loyalty?

Proportion (Adaptation)

- Strategy: Are we growing in proportion with market demands?

- Management: Are we scaling our operations in proportion with the demands of our value offerings?

- Brand: Are we bridging the gap between brand expectations and experiences?

- Innovation: Are we investing proportionately to improve existing offerings and creating new value offerings?

Unity (Delivery)

- Strategy: Do we have a strategy that aligns with our purpose, vision and customer insights?

- Management: Do we have an integrated process to allow productive collaboration between silos?

- Brand: Are we delivering our brand promise that we are communicating?

- Innovation: Are we meeting unmet and latent desires with our value offerings?

Hierarchy (Structure)

- Strategy: Do we have strategic plan that streamlines into operations?

- Management: Do we have a management system structured to deliver brand innovation?

- Brand: Are we structuring our brand architecture effectively?

- Innovation: Do we have an innovation pipeline implementing both top-down and bottom-up innovation?

Gradation (Improvement)

- Strategy: Are we moving forward to our vision and goals?

- Management: Are we continuously improving our operations to maximize results?

- Brand: Are we evolving our brand to adapt to the changing values and lifestyle of customers?

- Innovation: Do we have complementary value offerings that serve various needs of customers?

By understanding how design are directly linked to business through the four lenses, leaders and managers will be more aware of where to develop capabilities, invest resources, and orchestrate touchpoints on multiple channels. 

Businesses that focus on delivering value offerings and brand experiences to satisfy their customers' utilitarian needs and evoke sense of pleasure, are structuring their back-end operations to ensure intended experiences are implemented. When this happens, they are applying design principles to create a beautiful business that has three qualities of beauty; integrity, harmony and radiance.

It is important for the future of business as an increasing number of businesses have realized and delivered customer experiences as differentiator to their competitive advantage. Thus, businesses must become beautiful to deliver brand innovation that allows them to compete in the era of hyper-competitive market.

Being a beautiful business is the future of business. The first step is to know what and where to know how to design a business to be beautiful. Use qualities of beauty and design principles as guidelines.