Categories for Design

Graphic Design Essay

Graphic Design Essay

Everyone knows the feeling of walking around and seeing something on the floor that catches their eye, usually it is nothing but trash with creative designs and coloring, but why are people so curious to see what it is anyway? Because the graphic designers for that company did their job correctly. Graphic design is the art of getting a message out to a targeted audience through various forms of artwork. Everyone worldwide, businesses and the average person use graphic designing skills every day.

Every shirt with a design, logo or message was the work of graphic designers. Another example of graphic design is Myspace.com, a social network. Users on Myspace.com can edit profiles such as adding designs, changing color schemes, and several applications such as games, and music applications. That is one way people use graphic design from day to day. Graphic designers are a key component in any business or company worldwide.

A company or business can only do so well without advertising and innovation.

For example, you would not go into a store and view three different boxes of televisions and all it said on every single one was “television” on it without any designs or color. Companies hire innovative graphic designers to get a specific message across to an audience. “Graphic designers consider cognitive, cultural, physical and social factors in planning and executing designs for the targeted audience.” (U.S.) Graphic designers are very valuable to companies and can make or break a company. A product’s message to the targeted audience might be very weak and vague with poor graphic design.

A product can be great with the right color schemes and attractive designs. Graphic designers generate unique images for their company or client which will be seen on their products as a logo, design, or advertisement. They also design company billboards, product labels, with not only by using images, but also using creative writing as well. “Designers make the company because they have to make a design or logo that will compete with dozens of competitors selling the same product or service” (Stone). The advertising industry benefits the most from graphic designers by making sure the product or service is understandable and clear.

Graphic design is nothing new it has been around forever. Historians believe the earliest manuscripts were created anywhere from four hundred A.D. to six hundred A.D. Illuminated manuscripts are manuscripts that has text which is complemented by decorated boarders and images or illustrations. “Graphic design is the combination of computer animations and graphics mixed with drawings to create art, logos, advertising” (“Graphic”). Graphic design focuses on visual communication and presentation of products, businesses, website, or projects.

Graphic design enhances transfer of knowledge and makes everything a lot easier to comprehend and understand the purpose or message the company or client are trying to convey back to the consumer or audience. It is a form of visual communication through a combination of art and technology (Bean). Graphic design did not become as popular until the twenty-first century where it became digital and where computers became accessible. With the internet becoming such a great tool to communicate with others visually and through writing worldwide, advertising became a lot easier and graphic designers were in demand.

Graphic design is one of the most flexible jobs in the market place. Twenty-five hundred jobs are created each year nearly sixty percent are self-employed. There is also a good job outlook through 2014 (“Graphic”). Every company, business, or general public use some sort of graphic design in their everyday life. As new technology arises the demand for graphic designers is rapidly increasing. Graphic design is expected to grow faster than average jobs, thirteen percent over ten years spanning from 2008 to 2015. This definitely makes competition fierce but also a promising future. According to the Bureau of Labor and statistics, about 261,000 graphic designers were employed in the year 2000 (U.S).

By 2008 there were two-hundred and eighty-six thousand graphic designers (“College”). Graphic designers that want to have the best chance to land a job should have experience in website design and animation. Of twenty-five thousand graphic designers who try to enter the workforce, only sixty percent last the first two years, and only thirty percent remain in the field for five years (“Everything”). The graphic design job market will keep growing as long as advertising and computers play an important role in everyday life.

Graphic design is a trait you must learn and have a talent or desire to be creative. The majorities of graphic designers have a four year degree in art design and have an understanding of the business world and production. Seventy percent of graphic designers go to college. Many artists turn to graphic design during their younger part of their life and then after go back to art. Professional graphic designers must be able to assemble a working portfolio to approach companies (“Everything”). A graphic design portfolio is a representation of the owner and all their skills in graphic design. This is similar to a résumé except this is specifically to see the designers art work. Graphic designers should have a bachelors degree in design and take various liberal arts courses that focus on history, writing, psychology, sociology, foreign language and cultural studies.

Graphic designers should also get a good understanding of how marketing, business and production affect their field of work. Designers should have experience using programs such as InDesign, Quark Express, Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator. Now there are also over one hundred accredited schools with graphic design programs to further your studies. The accredited schools also help designers deal with the lifestyle that comes with being a graphic designer.

The salaries of graphic designers differ between small and large businesses.”With all the schooling, graphic designers must accomplish their income ranges from twenty-three thousand to one hundred thousand a year, nearly sixty percent of designers are self-employed” (“College). According to statistics shown by occupational employment statistics, the least salary a graphic designer receives is twenty-four thousand, the average salary is forty-seven thousand and highest salaries top off at one hundred thousand or more (“Graphic”). With a small business, it makes making money harder because only local customers know of it. By using the designing skills, small businesses are able to expand and use their talents and abilities to advertise on the internet and throughout the street. Salaries all depend on how well the company does. A dedicated and talented designer could make millions and a designer who does not care could make nothing.

Graphic designers must be able to work with a variety of media restrictions
such as font size, specific colors and designs. Graphic designers are also met with financial restrictions as well (“Everything”). Graphic designers must be innovative from the start to impress their clients or company that they are doing business for. Graphic designers start off by preparing sketches of what their perspective is of the owners’ message to a targeted audience. Graphic designers use various forms of art designs, fonts, color schemes, and it even comes down to the type of paper they use as the layout. Graphic designers also use the aid of computer software for animation, sound, lighting and three-dimensional designs. Graphic designers also use various graphs in their projects and of course get approval for any information or artwork that isn’t theirs.

After they have a rough draft of what they think the owner or business’s message is trying convey they submit it to the art or creative director for review. Graphic designers that work for large advertising, publishing, or design firms usually work a regular forty hour week. Graphic designers that are self-employed or work for small firms have an unstable working environment. Self-employed graphic designers adjust their schedules to accommodate their clients’ schedules and deadlines. Graphic designers that get paid by the project are under a lot pressure because they have to try to keep current clients as well as finding new ones to keep a steady flow of income. Graphic designers’ style of art might be wanted one season and the next season no one might want it.

Graphic design affects every single person every day. Today we see graphic design out in the world through billboards, clothing, logos, labels, and products (Bean). The take out menus, car covers, programs, and websites are the basic examples of how graphic design affects people’s everyday life. That is what will usually make or break a deal at a store. The way the product is presented, advertised, even if the actual product is not that great the way it’s presented will determine if a consumer will purchase it or not. Consumers also dress and present themselves in a way that will make them distinct or stand out from others. Everyone uses some sort of art to design a certain style that they like or appreciate.

People also dress with caution to give the right message to the targeted audience. For example, wearing a Raiders jersey gives the message that the owner of the jersey likes the Raiders or the player’s name that is printed on the jersey. Italso gives the message that they like football. By using graphic designing on clothing, it gives people personality and style. Without the different logos or graphics on a clothing, everyone would look boring and the same every day. The variety of all the graphic designers’ talents and ideas make the clothing styles unique. Unique styles are what brings in the consumers with similar interests. Some styles are so unique that they are worth a lot of money and some are just basic styles that are not as expensive. An important aspect to creating clothing is to know what type of consumers the company is trying to reach out too. Making sure that there is a large amount of people or if the design is popular at time is key to making money.

In conclusion, graphic designing is important to society because everything made or seen is made from graphic design. It adds personality to products and people. Dedicating your time and talent into projects makes the job of graphic designing worthwhile. Making advertisements for companies is an important job because it helps the company gain business and it reflects the artwork. Advertising has been around for a long time and it keeps improving with the new technology. Graphic designing is used to communicate the message that the producers want to go out.

There could be as many designers as there are businesses. Designers seem to have the easy job, but in reality they have pressure and deadlines to meet. Not anyone off the street can make millions, but a dedicated designer that goes through the education requirements will be successful in life. That person will most likely be able to own their own small or large business. Owning a business will have the greatest incoming salary and the best outlook. Graphic designing in the best because it makes everything have a unique part of it. All products are unique with their own logo, label or artwork. The more unique the product is, the more people want to know more about it. Graphic designing creates style which can speak for itself. The better the graphic is, the more popularity it gets. As the main component to a company, graphic designing is the most important role. Without it, the world would be dull and there would be no competition for the best products or the best artwork. Next time a product is looked at, people should comment on the graphic design that mostly persuades them to purchasing the item.

CSS Styles and Web Design Essay

CSS Styles and Web Design Essay

Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) defines how HTML elements are to be displayed and in-short referred as CSS. It controls the appearance of multiple HTML pages by just including one single external style sheet. For storing external style sheets CSS files (“. css” extension) are used. CSS-based layouts along with table based layouts are used to manage the formatting of a web site. Cascading style sheets (CSS) make it easy to manage the formatting of a web site and it can be used to control the appearance of objects on a page or throughout a site.

It can be designed and redesigned, and can control the formatting of hundreds of pages, including fonts, link colors, margin settings and background images. It is widely supported by modern browsers and allows flexibility in positioning. CSS based layouts Keeps the HTML/text ratio at a low level thus decreasing load time and Allows the display of main content first while the graphics load afterwards. CSS also avoid accessibility issues raised by table cells and the content flows logically without disruption.

The three ways by which style can be added in HTML document are:

1. External style sheet 2. Internal style sheet (inside the <head> tag) 3. Inline style (inside an HTML element) In terms of priority when HTML document displays, it first looks for Inline style, than for internal style sheet (inside the <head> tag) and at last include External style sheet which is CSS. External style sheet (CSS) enables developer to change the appearance and layout of all the pages in their WebPages by just editing one single CSS file. Internal (embedded) style sheets are useful for managing single HTML page in which it is included and inline style sheet are used for managing some special formatting within the webpage.

The Evolution of HTML Standards The evolution of HTML standards started from 1989, when Tim Berners-Lee invented the Web with HTML as its publishing language. In September 1991, Open discussion about HTML across the Internet begins. In 1992, HTML 1. 0 the first release of HTML to the world, was taken from Tim-Berners Lee original proposal. At this time not many people were involved in website creation and the language was very limited. In May 1994, HTML+ having some physical layout was shown at the first World Wide Web conference (W3C) that was held in Geneva. In July 1994, HTML specification for HTML 2. 0 was released.

It included everything from HTML 1. 0 and added a few new features and defined many core HTML features for the first time. It was HTML standard until January 1997. In March 1995, HTML 3. 0 published as an Internet Draft by a HTML working group, led by Dave Raggett. In 1996, HTML 3. 2 (wilbur) came after the end of the Browser Wars and became the official standard in January 1997. It had included the tags introduced by Netscape and Microsoft during Browser Wars. In December 1997, HTML 4. 0 (cougar) introduced with HTML’s new supporting presentational language, cascading style sheets and became the official standard in April 1998.

HTML 4. 0 was revised and corrected and later introduced as HTML 4. 01 in 1999. In January 2000, XHTML 1. 0, an XML version of HTML 4. 01, became joint standards along with HTML 4. 01. In XHTML 1. 0, there are not many new or deprecated tags and attributes but it was changed with a view of increased accessibility and functionality and a new set of coding rules. In 2001, XHTML 1. 1 with some modularization came. In 2002, XHTML 2. 0, which is more simplified and generalized standards, came into effect for WebPages. References: CSS Tutorial available at <http://www. w3schools.

com/css/css_intro. asp> accessed on 27 July 2007. Web Development Series: formatting content, January 4, 2007 retrieved on 27 July 2007 from <http://academictech. doit. wisc. edu/ORFI/wds/index. htm> Moller, A. & Schwartzbach, M. L. 2006. HTML and Web Pages: An Introduction to XML and Web Technologies, Addison-Wesley. Retrieved on 27 July 2007 from <http://www. brics. dk/ixwt/html. pdf> Shannon, R (n. d. ). The History of HTML Retrieved on 27 July 2007 from <http://www. yourhtmlsource. com/starthere/historyofhtml. html> http://www. w3. org/ accessed on 27 July 2007.

A Look at an Effective Minimal Website Design: the Mykita Haus Essay

A Look at an Effective Minimal Website Design: the Mykita Haus Essay

Since 2003 the Mykita Haus has been making individual and unmistakable hand-assembled eye-wear and supplying handmade designer optical eye-wear and vintage glasses for the high-end segment. Its minimalistic approach in design, style, workshop and website have made it more appealing to people, who increasingly want a clean and crisp interface that gives the facts without the frills. It is simple but contains everything necessary. The Mykita Haus website loads faster, takes fewer server resources, and is often faster to develop than more graphically complicated designs.

Minimalism has been a popular website design style for years because it has so many benefits.

When it comes to website design, sometimes less truly is more. So many sites get bogged down in the details, becoming messy; slow to load, or a pain to navigate. The Mykita Haus Company has quickly understood that and the website is “see-able”. There are no pictures and roll-over graphics, mainly black letters and white space. There are no bells and whistles, just a simple text-​based message that tells us how to get where.

It doesn’t take much to guide the viewers around because the designers seek to identify the real, functional needs of users and get the clutter out of their way. It’s pretty simple with lots of space and very modern.

Another aspect that makes the Mykita Haus website unique is there is no ads along the sidebar or no needless other gadgets, as it appears in different other websites. They give a professional and clean impression to visitors. The use of graphic elements is very limited and the focus is put on the typography. When loading any website, we want it to be user-friendly. The four links on the welcome page fulfill that customer requirement meaning that they drive the visitors directly to the frames which are already classified by year and category.

The Mykita Haus website renders a clean, simple and uncluttered website that focuses on what’s most important, the content. When a web page has too many elements, the user may begin to feel confused or annoyed when trying to find what they are looking for. It’s often the most minimal of websites that make the largest impact and the Mykita Haus website has been doing that so far. They demonstrate that they can still get all of their information across, express their company’s unique character, and make a powerful visual statement even within the simplest and most streamlined of looks.

Process Design for Riordan Manufacturing Essay

Process Design for Riordan Manufacturing Essay

Dear CEO:
At Riordan, the electric fan division has revised the process for supplying the electric fans. Part of Riordan’s operations planning, Riordan would implement aggregate operations. From Operations Management for Competitive Advantage (2006), “Aggregate operations planning involves translating annual and quarterly business plans into broad labor and output plans for the intermediate term of 6 to 18 months. Its objective is to minimize the cost of resources required to meet demand over that period.” Riordan would start to collect data starting from the beginning of the fiscal year.

The data would be collected throughout the months to help determine implementation plans.

Part of the total quality management for the electric fans would be to implement the eight steps to be successful. From The Eight elements of TQM (2012), Riordan would apply, “ethics, integrity, trust, training, teamwork, leadership, recognition, and communication,” within its training and everyday workday routines. The process uses a viewpoint that strengthens the power of performance within planning, management, leadership, and design department.

These departments have initiated improvements. By implementing the process to the management and staff, Riordan would have an easy workflow. Riordion Manufacturing looks forward to hearing any opinions and concerns regarding the new development for processing of distributing the electric fans. Thank you for your time in advance,

Best Regard, Learning Team A

Team A will present a proposal package for Riordan Manufacturing Company’s electric fans. This proposition analyzes the importance of the MRP in regard to the fans. In addition, a newly created process design for the production of the electric fans, and a discussion regarding the supply chain that takes advantage of the global prospects that lower labor costs. Last, the team will cover the production forecast for the electric fans along with the implementation plan that will include a design process included within a Gantt chart.

MRP for the manufacturing of the Riordan electric fans

Many organizations strive to be competitive. Riordan Manufacturing is one of those companies located in Hangzhou, China. This company creates fan blades, fan housings, and supplier for the electric fan motors. Riordan Manufacturing located in China currently uses raw materials to make the fan blades, housings, and other miscellaneous parts. The departments focus on the cost it takes to create the plastic fans to stay ahead of the competition. A new process design can improve Riordan Manufacturing’s output of its process analysis.

New Process Design For Production

The process developer calls for the entire workforce within the operation to be fully involved. Strategically, Riordian can operate most desirably in the terms of cost, competences within the vendors, and inventory, (Whitney, 1988). Creating a new process design for the manufacturing of Riordan electric fans will adjust the cost for the local vendors. When addressing operating costs and inventory it is paramount to reduce the relationship with their Chinese partners. This is true with any business; it is never a smart move to have more employees than required. Riordan Manufacturing experts have the knowledge and capabilities to order the fan motors and blades needed for assembly. Using local outsourcing manufacturing companies for purchasing the fan motors will lower costs with the new process in place. A way to cut developing time is to begin the process of the phase two at the same time phase one is completed. An implicated cycle can make the transition from phase to phase. Riordan’s process currently in use causes concern because of the slow results from its third party.

Therefore, creating additional inventory on-site would rectify this situation. The fan motors in inventory will create an efficient development process that does not overlap phases. “To improve the effectiveness of overlapping, the upstream activity should make solutions ‘downstream-friendly’, reducing meaningless changes, and quickening engineering cycles. The downstream should try to forecast upstream results. Knowing how to make time-risk trade-offs and quicken adjustment to unexpected changes”, (Clark & Fujimoto, 1991). With the use of outside manufacturing companies to assemble the electric fan motors, support the economical cost needed for the new process.

Subsequently Riordan Manufacturing proposes to have higher levels of inventory that allows them in effectively forecasting models for inventory control, production, planning, improving supply chain, and guaranteeing deliveries of Riordan products. Creating a new process design essentially caters for the new supply and demand of Riordan products. Using lean production can help Riordan Manufacturing minimize waste from raw material toward the finished product. Because of the elevated demand for the product, production needs increase (Chase, Jacobs, & Aquilano 2006).

Global Advantages and Opportunities

Riordan Manufacturing operates their electric fans unit out of Hangzhou, China but sells them across the world, Apollo (2012). The company has been successful in using a method call make-to-stock operations. The flowchart will illustrate an innovative system that ensues extremely efficient. This method has been successful because the product is available when our customer places his or her order. The customer has the option to have his or her product delivered or picking-up his or her product from the local warehouse. In addition, our company offers a responsive supply chain. Riordan is responsive and flexible to the customer’s needs. Moreover, if a customer wanted a special order, the company offers the build-to-order process to meet the specialized requirements for the order. Chase, Jacobs, & Aquilano (2006), describes this as the Responsive Supply Chain Method. Our flexibility can accommodate any customer requirements.

In this global market, the available opportunities are competitive. According to the European Business Review article, the opportunities of global advantages will depend on the nation’s determinants. In applying the determinants to Riordan in China, the market has a large availability of skilled labor. Furthermore, a high-demand for the product within the supply network has driven the success for Riordan. Last, this company has diverse suppliers working with the manufacture to produce the electric fans. These factors alone stimulates the competition, in return increases the total supply capacity. These determinants of advantages make this company competitive in the global market.

Supply Chain Flowchart

Production Forecast

Riordan forecast proposes the yearly needs of electric motors to the local companies based on three years of sales and production figures. The current year’s estimation for production of electric fans produces a need to outsource to several local vendors. One of the outsourcing components in producing the fan is the plastic polymers. The outsourcing company produces these individual parts by specification to fit inside the fans. The fan blade and the fan housing components are assembled onsite to the motor. Then the minor parts are added to the fan for its completion. Once production of the fan finalizes, the product become part of the inventory placed into the storeroom as available saleable product.

From the storeroom, the customers can pick up their fans from the manufacture. Alternatively, Riordan’s transportation department can have the product delivered using local Chinese shipping company. Riordan maintains extra stock of polymer’s but not the electric motors. Nevertheless, the outsourcing motor supplier and Riordan have an agreement to store extra stock at their facility reducing the overhead and lowering the cost for the product.

Ganatt Chart and Design Process

As part of the implementation plan, five different tasks assist in developing the electric fans. The first task would be the preliminary design. The second task would be the detail design. The third design would be the prototype. During which the fourth and fifth task provide the testing and assembly of the electric fans.

The white shaded bars

implements the period used for each tasks. The parts colored purple within the bars are goals into which Riordan would use as a set goal to achieve production.

Conclusion

In conclusion, Riordian has submitted the development of a new process for its distribution of electric fans, the process focus on what strengthens the company with countless leaders, designers, planners, and improvement within this proposal. Riordan has been a very successful company and emphases through this proposal the positive aspects of initiating a joint venture.

References
Apollo Group, Inc. (2005, 2006, 2012) Copyright Riordan Manufacturing Virtual Organizations Portalhttps://ecampus.phoenix.edu/secure/aapd/cist/vop/Business/Riordan/Ops/SupplyChain.asp?hangzhou Chase, R.B., Jacobs, F. R., & Aquilano, N.J. (2006) Operations management for competitive advantage (11th ed). New York: McGraw Hill/Irwin European Business Review © Heinz Weihrich retrieved June 17, 2012 from http://www.usfca.edu/fac_staff/weihrichh/docs/germany.pdf The Eight Elements of TQM (2012). Retrieved June 18, 2012 from http://www.isixsigma.com/methodology/total-quality-management-tqm/eight-elements-tqm/

Green Design Essay

Green Design Essay

The notion of a responsible architecture design is something that flourished way back in 1970’s. However, green designs during that time were only developed on a domestic or small scale basis (Papanek 4). It is only in the late 1980’s that green commercial developments are done as an effect not only of the 1980 economic boom but also of various social, political and design factors (Beaufoy 199). At the present age, the author argues that the attempts of modern architecture to merge new trends in office design and environmental friendly features are primarily commercial in nature and not really fully environmental.

Having such premise in mind, the author formulated the research question: Should interior designers encourage clients to go with green design? In order to sufficiently answer this question, the author have provided a comparative analysis of the pros and cons of the green design and then significantly deduce based from the said arguments the writer’s stance weather he will respond to the question on the affirmative or the negative manner.

Arguments on the affirmative side claims that: (1) The green design will help reduce the environmental burdens that the present society brings to the aforementioned and also help man conserve energy (Winter 8); and (2) The green design will help to minimize or to an extent prevent sickness that are acquired within a particular building or house. On the other hand, the arguments on the negative side are the following: (1) The green design raises the costs in erecting buildings or houses; (2) The green design is difficult to implement on certain states, depending on the statutory laws governing a particular state.

Body The body of the research elaborates on the positive and the downsides of implementing green design. Reducing Environmental Burdens and Energy Conservation The relevance of green buildings on a global level and its effect to the environment and energy conservation is one of the major arguments in terms of promoting green designs. Buildings or houses that are tailored to be such are expected to reduce carbon dioxide and CFC emissions that are brought about by airconditioning (Beaufoy 203).

For instance, IBM has been creating buildings that are completely asbestos free and avoids the use of hardwoods unless the latter came from a sustainable source. They are also using low ozone-depleting chemicals and has been controlling the ozone emission of their airconditioning, and even planning in the near future to eliminate aircondition altogether. In some instances, where green buildings use glass on the exterior, such helps to lessen the need for heating, and the small amount of heat that is needed could be gas-fired.

Corollary with this, one can also help to reduce the use of light bulbs of fluorescent lights, hence conserving energy (Beaufoy 203). The use of energy efficient devices such as those of modern HVAC devices helps buildings to save operating costs and could even make the former eligible for rebates offered by local energy companies. In addition with this, through designing building facilities that make use of energy through natural ventilation and daylight also reduces operating costs (Meyerson 47). Health Benefits

One of the major premises why green buildings are favorable is due to the health benefits that it could bring to people. For instance if a building is designed to draw air at a high level, cooled and the filtered, the air conditioning or water system of the aforementioned could help eliminate the risk of Legionnaires’ Disease (Beaufoy 203). The Greenpeace building in Islington, London are also geared towards creating a more environmentally sustained building in their inclination to reduce the risks of office illnesses that result due to the chlorofluorocarbon (CFC) emissions of airconditions (Beaufoy 204).

Increased Construction and Soft Costs The actual costs of building green architecture are something that is too expensive that a lot of green features can not be really accommodated by most marginalized companies (Johnston 1). As such it is often argued that green buildings are only for wealthy people (Wilson 1). The problem of “first costs” or the initial expenses that has to be paid prior to building a house is something that is of a growing concern for customers. For instance, the use of uncommon trades and materials could increase costs in addition to LEED commissioning (Syphers et al 8).

In addition with this, higher soft costs are also most likely to be incurred in green buildings. The use of additional design analysis, computer modeling, commissioning, product research and lifecycle costs analysis for materials that could be substituted could also paved the way for up-front costs (Syphers et al 8). Legal Considerations Local conditions that are unique to every country and state cold also be one of the problems in terms of attempting to erect green buildings, for some state regulations could pose certain problems on the aforementioned.

For instance, the state of California prohibits the use of water-free urinals that could have saved certain buildings a significant amount of water (Syphers et al 6). In relation with this, the use of solar panels that could have help buildings to save electricity, though highly encouraged within various state’s regulations; also poses some problems as the law requires buildings to locate these panels somewhere that could not be seen on public roads due to the risk of accidents.

Also, local building codes have given limitations on the height windmills including its zone restrictions (Syphers et al 7). As generally known, windmills are also one of the most environmentally friendly way of generating electricity. Analysis After presenting the abovementioned arguments of the positive and the downsides of the use of the green design, it is also noteworthy to tell that amidst all of these most basic issues, the author perceived that the advocacy for the adaptation of green buildings is something that is primarily commercial in nature rather than really environmental in focus.

Although it could be significantly noted that green buildings indeed helps the environment due to cutting the use of certain machines that could have harmed for instance the ozone layer, it could be implied that the primary motivation of customers is indeed on cost cutting and juxtaposed with that of course is a relatively healthy lifestyle.

In this respect, it could be said that although the positive side of green architecture is emphasized most specially its environmental underpinnings, the fact couldn’t be hidden that such an endeavor is not really one hundred percent pro nature as one could see a compromise between capitalism and protecting the environment. It is with this respect that the author remembered that capitalism is indeed a necessary evil. There are a number of human endeavors that will not proceed without its aid, and such includes even the environment.

In addition to these issues, the notion of the difficulty of implementing the architectural design of green buildings is something that should also be taken into consideration. The initial construction costs and soft costs could be really expensive; however, experts still argue that the life cycle costs of the building in the long run could be very cost effective (California Integrated Waste Management Board 1). The legal considerations of course are something that is imperative in order to assure order and efficiency to the society.

Albeit it should be noted that the process of adopting green design is something that is still in the process of development; hence it is theoretically possible that the future technology could bring about changes that could fully actualize the fullest utility of the program. Conclusion Given the abovementioned factors, the author wishes to answer the research question: “Should interior designers encourage clients to go with green design? ” in the affirmative.

It could be seen that although the green design has a number of short comings, it could not be denied that these flaws are only minute in comparison to the overall utility that it could bring to man and to the environment. The short comings of green design could be solved through active collaboration of various stakeholders that are concerned to such like customers, contractors, architects, interior designers, engineers, the government, non government organizations, private corporations and the likes.

Literature Cited Beaufoy, Helena. “Case Study: The Green Office in Britain A Critical Analysis”. Journal of Design History 6,3 (1993) 206. California Integrated Waste Management Board. January 2007. Sustainable (Green) Building: Project Design Cost Issues. 23 October 2007 <http://www. ciwmb. ca. gov/GreenBuilding/Design/CostIssues. htm#Primers> Johnston, Ritchey. Actual Costs – Is Building Green Too Expensive? January 2000.

Housing Zone. 23 October 2007 < http://www. housingzone. com/topics/nahb/green/nhb00ca029. asp> Meyerson, Andrew. “The Dollars and Cents of Green Construction: Being Environmentally Friendly Brings Financial as Well as Social Benefits”. Journal of Accountancy 199,5 (2005) 47. Papanek, Victor. Design for the Real World: Human Ecology and Social Change. London: Thames & Hudson, 1985. Syphers, Geof et al. October 2003 Managing the Cost of Green Buildings K-12 Public Schools Research Laboratories Public Libraries Multi-family Affordable Housing. State of California and Almeda COunty Waste Management Authority.

23 October 2007 < http://www. ciwmb. ca. gov/GreenBuilding/Design/ManagingCost. pdf > Winter, Metta, “The Greening of Design: Jack Elliott Believes Interior Designers Can and Should Play a Major Role in Preventing Environmental Degradation, That Sustainability Should Be Central to All Design Decisions”. Human Ecology 30,1 (2002) 8. Wilson, Alex. Building Green on a Budget. May 1999. Building Green. com. 23 October 2007 < http://www. buildinggreen. com/auth/article. cfm? fileName=080501a. xml>a

Transactive Memory System and Creativity of Dutch Designers

Preface

The author declares that the text and work presented in this Master thesis are original and that no other sources other than those mentioned in the text and its references have been used in creating the Master thesis.

The copyright of the Master thesis rests with the author. The author is responsible for its contents. RSM Erasmus University is only responsible for the educational coaching and beyond that cannot be held responsible for its contents.

Abstract

This research examines the impact of the transactive memory system on the creativity of Dutch fashion designers, architects and graphic designers. The transactive memory system (TMS) consists of individual expertise of members as well as their knowledge of ‘who knows what’ and is based on communication. The emphasis in this thesis is given to the retrieval function of the TMS. This function could have an impact on the process of idea generation.

In this research a special focus will be on the concept of ‘ba’, developed by Nonaka (1994). Central to the ‘ba’ stands the idea of knowledge creation during interaction.

Approximately five hundred designers were sent an online survey about the impact of the environment, knowledge creation and knowledge transfer on the retrieval of information during idea generation. The final number of cases used was 128 and these were empirically investigated using a multiple regression analysis.

Results showed that having connections with other individuals did have a significant impact on the creativity of Dutch designers during idea generation (β=.379 significant at level .001).

Furthermore, the use of explicit knowledge showed to have an unexpected positive moderating effect on the relationship between retrieving information and creativity (β=.202 significant at level .05). However, the other aspects did not show significant results.

Chapter 1 Introduction and research topic
Introduction

‘The secret to creativity is knowing how to hide your resources’

Albert Einstein

In order to be successful in the creative industry, designers have to be able to deliver what is perceived to be creative. But what is creativity?

Many researchers focused on the personality approach; defining creativity as a personality trait. Simonton (2003) argued that creativity has three essential components: person, product and process. These components have to be interrelated in order to recognize creativity. Koestler (1964) proposed that creativity involves a ‘bisociative process’- connecting two frames of reference to produce new insight or invention.

Amabile et al (2005) mentioned that creative performance can be affected by the work environment in every context; a school, a room, a design studio or organization. Amabile (1983) focused on the process of creativity and identified that social and environmental influences are also of importance in creative performance. She developed a framework, which describes the way in which cognitive abilities: personality characteristics and social factors might contribute to the different stages of the creative process. Social networks are taken as to be one of these social factors.

How does this work in the creative industry? Designers must have all of the resources and assets available in order to succeed in today’s highly competitive marketplace. But where do new ideas come from? And in what way do these ideas affect creativity?

Marlies Dekkers designs her collections based on a different concept than traditional underwear. Every collection is inspired by movies, art or literature. When she has a moment of inspiration, even if it is in the middle of the night, all the members of her designing team receive a text message with her idea. They all discuss this idea the next morning.

Rem Koolhaas has been successful architect for more than twenty years. He celebrates the chance-like nature of city life: ‘the city is an addictive machine from where there is no escape’. Another key theme in architectural design was introduced by Koolhaas. This notion: the ‘Program’, involves an act to contribute to human activities.

Over the past 15 years Viktor and Rolf have taken the fashion world by storm with their particular blend of cool irony and surreal beauty. They created The House of Viktor & Rolf that presents each of the designer’s signature pieces from 1992 to now, shown in a specially commissioned and characteristically theatrical installation. They are most well-known for their fantastical and concept driven designs and for their conceptually driven fashion show presentations. Subjects of their work include their analysis of fashion and the fashion industry, the idea of the fashion designer as a story teller, transformation and illusions.

Marlies Dekkers, Rem Koolhaas and Viktor & Rolf are successful, but are inspired in different ways. It could be interesting to know in what way social relationships affect creativity; what kinds of relationships are part of the process of generating ideas? Family, friends or peers? And within which context and with what means are these ideas shared, transferred or created?

Perry- Smith and Shalley (2003) focused on the importance of generating creative ideas and tried to explore the association between the context of social relationships and individual creativity.

They argued that informal relationships are more beneficial, in general, than formal relationships for creativity. Informal relationships are not specifically required as a part of the job. These relationships are more likely to provide connections to people with diverse viewpoints and perspectives (Perry-Smith, 2008). Informal ties ease the process of communication rather than formal ties.

Conversations with others can therefore not only be a source of ideas, but also a driving force behind creativity. Nonaka & Toyama (2003) discuss the potential of these dialogues as they introduce the concept of ‘Ba’; a context or place, which can transcend beyond boundaries to create knowledge. Knowledge creation occurs as the actors synthesize tacit and explicit knowledge in social space. Conversations can create new knowledge and enhance creativity. Searching for information and getting inspired is essential during this process.

A transactive memory system (TMS) is a collective memory of who knows what. This is a shared system for encoding, storing and retrieving information (Wegner, 1986). The TMS is based on the idea that individual members can serve as external memory to others. Its value is determined by the willingness of members to search for the specific expertise. Members are able to benefit from each other’s knowledge and expertise if they develop a good, shared understanding of who knows what in the group/unit. They are able to develop deep expertise in specialty areas and they can rely on other members to provide access to others’ specific knowledge (Lewis, 2003). Retrieving information is a valuable asset of a TMS: individuals with specialized expertise can be found quickly. Designer creativity and the retrieval function of a TMS have not yet been associated with each other; connections to people who are creative or have specific expertise may help individuals be more creative (Perry-Smith, 2008).

Therefore the subsequent question will be central in this research:

What is the effect of the retrieval function of a transactive memory system on the creativity of fashion designers, architects and graphic designers in the Netherlands?

The following sub-questions can be derived:

– How is a transactive memory system used to generate new ideas?

– How is a transactive memory system used during the transfer of knowledge?

1.1 Research Objective

The objective of this research is to provide some new insights as to how the retrieval function of the transactive memory system (TMS) can have an impact on the creativity of designers.

The purpose of this research is to test theory and causal relations. The most appropriate research strategy will be the survey design since we are dealing with probabilistic hypotheses.

The numbers of respondents to the survey in this research were 128.

1.2 Thesis structure

The next chapter will discuss the theoretical issues, namely the concept of creativity and the transactive memory system. Chapter 3 will justify the chosen research design and the analysis of the results. The general discussion, implications and recommendations will be described in Chapter 4.

Part I
Chapter 2 Literature Review

‘Everything you can imagine is real’

Pablo Picasso

This chapter will discuss the relationship between the retrieval function of the TMS and creativity as well as different aspects that could moderate this relationship. The first section will explain how retrieving information can play a role during idea generation. The following part will discuss the cognitive elements that could impact this relationship such as absorptive capacity, scanning the environment, the usage of boundary objects and the role of a shared context (‘ba’). A conceptual model will be presented at the end of this chapter, displaying the presumed relationships.

Introduction

Designers operate in a creative environment and are faces with innovative tasks. They should be able to identify trends and changes during idea generation. This phenomenon called environmental scanning can be used to retrieve relevant information.

Cohen and Levinthal (1990) argue that the ability to exploit external knowledge is critical during the generation of ideas. They introduce the concept of absorptive capacity, which is the ability to take in and make use of new knowledge. In this way, retrieving information requires prior related knowledge to assimilate this newly acquired information.

Sharing information means sharing knowledge. The context in which these interactions take place is crucial. Knowledge is created by means of interaction among individuals or between individuals and their environment. ‘Ba’ is the context shared by those who interact with each other (Nonaka & Toyama, 2003). Thus, designers could retrieve relevant information when participating in a ‘ba’.

To deliver creative products, designers need to be able to combine and integrate knowledge. They could face knowledge boundaries during interaction. Different boundary objects can be used to manage knowledge across boundaries (Carlile, 2002).

The first difficulty that needs to be addressed is the way different types of ‘ba’, the environment and the usage of absorptive capacity are related to retrieving information.

The second problem that needs to be addressed is how boundary objects are being used dring the generation of ideas.

The most common means of identifying creativity has been through its products. In architecture, music, writing, art and even scientific discovery the presence of a creative product is of importance (Akin & Akin, 1998)

Creativity is generally defined as the production of novel, useful ideas or problem solutions. It refers to both the process of idea generation or problem solving and the actual idea or solution (Amabile, 1983).

Drawing on the assumption that novelty is the distinguished feature of creative work, Simonton (1999) focused his theory on variation. In this theory, the process of variation primarily contributes to idea novelty; it is guided by the existence of knowledge elements that are available for combination into new variations within the creator’s mind. According to Simonton (1999), the initial selection of ideas goes on within the mind of the individual creator, through a process of testing them against relevant criteria for novelty. Once an idea has been selected by the creator, developed, and communicated, there is often a second selection process by relevant individuals in a social group or community. In Simonton’s view, creativity depends in large part on novelty, and because novelty is largely a function of cognitive variation, interacting with other individuals is likely to increase the probability of creativity.

Creativity is a choice made by an individual to engage in producing novel ideas; the level of engagement can vary from situation to situation. In this thesis creativity is defined as thinking outside of general frames of reference that leads to generation of novel ideas, solution to problems, or innovations (Akin & Akin, 1998).

In order to create a new product, diverse ideas become available from past experiences. In this way, individuals enrich their own knowledge domain with other knowledgeable persons who help them to retrieve and apply knowledge components during idea generation (Taylor & Greve, 2006).

This means as a conclusion that individual creativity and the ability to deliver innovations depend on interactions in social systems (Amabile, 1996). Relevant ideas can be generated through communication and through the retrieval information from external sources. External knowledge and the interpretation of the environment can be such sources.

2.1 Transactive memory system & creativity

Creativity does not just play a role in arts, invention and innovation; it also is a part of our everyday life (Runco, 2004). He defines creative thinking in terms of cognitive processes that lead to an original and adaptive insight, idea or solution. What is unique about this definition is the reliance on cognitive processes. This definition assumes that all creative work requires some cognition and that everything we do requires information processing. Creative ideas generated from one’s cognitive processes are influenced by the individual’s personal experiences. A combination of individual and other’s knowledge is an ideal means to obtain information and be creative. Strategic management researchers have proposed a knowledge processing view of the firm that emphasizes the importance of social interaction as the process through which knowledge is created and transferred in organizations (Kogut & Zander, 1992; Nonaka, 1994).

Nanaka & Takeuchi (1995) argue that knowledge consists of tacit and explicit dimensions. Explicit knowledge is that which can be expressed in words and numbers. It is easily communicated and shared in the form of hard data, codified procedures or universal principles. In contrast, tacit knowledge is highly personal, difficult to formalize and consist of subjective insights; intuitions and hunches (Davenport & Prusak, 1998; Alavi & Leidner, 2001). These forms of knowledge are mutually dependent and have qualities that reinforce each other. It is via the process of continual interaction between tacit and explicit knowledge that new knowledge is created. Nonaka & Toyama (2003) argue that knowledge creation starts with ‘socialization’, which is the process of converting new tacit knowledge through shared experiences in day-to-day social interaction.

A transactive memory system (TMS)

has been defined as a combination of an individual’s knowledge and a shared awareness of who knows what (Wegner, 1986). This represents a ‘divided up into portions’ type of knowledge sharing. TMS was initially proposed to explain the knowledge residing amongst intimate couples and family members when they are able to bring together disparate knowledge to solve a problem. This means even though the solution to any issue at hand may not be readily available, family members do know how to come together and develop a response. Wegner (1986) explains that members are able to benefit from each other’s knowledge and expertise if they develop a good, shared understanding of who knows what in the unit/group. TMS is built on the distinction between internal and external memory encoding. Often, individuals encode new (tacit) knowledge internally, in their own memory. However, even more often individuals encode or use knowledge encoded externally.

According to Wegner (1986) a TMS can be explained as a set of individual memory systems in combination with the communication that takes place between individuals. He argues that an individual’s memory system becomes connected with those of other individuals involving three stages:

Directory updating. Directory updating or expertise recognition is the process by which team members learn which topics others know without learning the actual information within each topic. Furthermore, members come to understand their own areas of expertise within the team

Communication to allocate information. Communication to allocate information is characterized by a team member using his or her directory of expertise to forward new information outside of his or her domain(s) of expertise (Anand et al 1998).

Communication to retrieve information. Although it is important to possess relevant knowledge, the knowledge must also be utilized to be successful. Communication to retrieve information is the process by which individuals seek specialized information from the team’s domain expert to help in task completion when their personal knowledge bases are insufficient.

A transactive memory system will be most effective when knowledge assignments are based on the members’ actual ability, when there is a shared understanding between the members and when members fulfill expectations (Brandon & Hollingshead, 2004).

This research focuses on the process to retrieve information for it is in the retrieval process where usefulness and efficiency of a TMS can be achieved (Wegner et al 1985). This retrieval process could result in the creation of new knowledge. The creation of new knowledge leads us to creativity. Creativity could be seen as a mental event by which an actor intentionally goes beyond his or her previous experiences in order to gain novel and appropriate outcomes; the TMS can help individuals to achieve these outcomes (Pandza & Thorpe, 2009).

Transactive retrieval requires determining the location of information and sometimes entails the combination or interplay of items coming from multiple locations. This process begins when the person who holds an item internally is not the one who is asked to retrieve it. In transactive memory this can occur when individuals respond to a particular information label and one group member retrieves one item whereas a second member retrieves something quite different. In their discussion it could be determined that two items add up to yet a third idea. These so-called external components of information are not personally known but can be retrieved when required (Anand et al, 1998). If we ask a question to a person who is a well-integrated part of a transactive memory network, this person is often able to answer (after consulting with other network members, of course) with information well beyond his or her internal storage. When team members correctly identify the experts and delegate tasks based on an individual member’s expertise, they perform better (Hollingshead, 2000). Brandon and Hollingshead (2004) argue that representation of tasks is critical to the structure of the TMS; the features of tasks are embedded in the transactive memory process.

In this way, team performance in terms of creativity may depend on whether the group can correctly recognize and utilize the knowledge of its members (Brandon & Hollingshead, 2004). The interaction of different perspectives enabled by a TMS is a large contributor to the discovery of insight and the creation of knowledge (Jehn et al, 1999; Nonaka & Takeuchi, 1995; Nonaka & Toyama, 2001).

As individuals will retrieve relevant information via a TMS, it is probable designers will discover new knowledge and improve creativity. Thus, the following hypothesis is defined:

H1: The usage of the retrieval function of the transactive memory system is likely to contribute to creativity

2.2 Interpretation and creating

As mentioned in the previous paragraph, creativity is concerned with generating novel outcomes (Pandza & Thorpe, 2009).

Creativity is defined as the production of novel ideas that are useful and appropriate to a given situation (Amabile, 1983). Cognitive styles are recognized as core characteristics of individual creativity. Cognitive style is a person’s preferred way of gathering, processing and evaluating information. It influences how people scan their environment for information, how they organize and interpret this information and how they integrate their interpretations that guide their actions (Amabile, 1988; Woodman et al., 1993).

According to Miliken (1990), action involves a response based on scanning and interpretation of information. Choo (1996) argues that the principal information process is the interpretation of news and messages about the environment. Individuals must determine what information is significant and should be attended to. Interpretation involves the development of ways of comprehending information; the fitting of information into some structure for understanding action (Thomas et al, 1993). Interpretation of the environment also requires identifying threats and opportunities (Miliken, 1990); which requires designers to assess the meaning and significance of each trend, change and event they noticed during the scanning phase.

During this phase information is gathered. If one has access to more information, it is also important to select information that is useful to interpret issues (Thomas et al, 1993). Another purpose of scanning is identifying the key trends, changes and events in an environment that might affect performance (Miliken, 1990).

Monitoring and analyzing the environment enhances the ability to enter new knowledge domains. Information about the environment can be gathered through different channels, such as personal relationships with peers (Danneels, 2008). Daft and Lengel (1986) explain that the interpretation of the environment is the source of information processing. Cohen and Levinthal (1990) argue that the ability to recognize the value of new information using prior knowledge is critical to innovative capabilities. This phenomenon, called absorptive capacity is used to give rise to creativity; using prior knowledge to assimilate and use new knowledge. An amount of absorptive capacity is needed to increase both the ability to acquire new knowledge and the ability to retrieve and use it (Cohen & Levinthal, 1990).

As mentioned in the previous paragraph, the retrieving function of the transactive memory system could be used to acquire new data, which is combined with the creation of new interpretations about the environment, which in turn can reduce the uncertainty about the environment. Taking the importance of the ability to interact in different contexts, scanning the environment could put some people in more advantageous positions than others to be creative. Some persons are considered to have contacts with individuals in other fields of expertise who may possess or develop knowledge that can have an impact on their current work. Creative individuals who interact with other designers and are aware of trends could be considered to achieve more creative ideas. Individuals can scan the environment and benefit from this novel information flow. TMS can increase this learning process and can act as an interactive mechanism (Austin, 2003). A certain amount of absorptive capacity and environmental scanning could affect the relationship between the retrieval function of the TMS and creativity. Therefore the following hypotheses are defined:

H2: high levels of absorptive capacity will moderate the relationship between the retrieval function of the TMS and creativity, such that retrieval is more likely to have a positive relationship with creativity

H3: environmental scanning will moderate the relationship between the retrieval function of the TMS and creativity, such that retrieval is more likely to have a positive relationship with creativity

2.3 Boundary objects

Interacting to develop a shared understanding can be done using language and other symbols.

Individuals articulate what they intuitively know through dialogue and discourse (Choo, 1996). Texts are a variety of forms including written documents, verbal reports, art work, spoken words, pictures, symbols, buildings and other artifacts (Philip et al, 2004). Carlile (2002) define these objects as ‘boundary objects’. The notion of boundary objects was first introduced by Star and Griesemer (1989), who described the attributes of boundary objects that enable them to serve as translation devices; they have different meanings in different social worlds but their structure is common enough to more than one world to make them recognizable and function as a means of translation. Boundary objects can adapt to different context simultaneously while maintaining a common identity across all context, allowing each group to decontextualize its knowledge for use in common space and recontextualize it for use in its own practice (Bowker and Star, 1999). Boundary objects are enabled via ingoing transactions but also enable interaction. Carlile (2002) distinguishes among different types of boundaries- syntactic, semantic and pragmatic- that require different types of boundary objects:

Repositories supply a common reference point of data, measures or labels across functions that provide shared definitions and values for solving problems. This object establishes a shared syntax or language for individuals to represent their knowledge.

Standardized forms and methods provide a shared format for solving problems across different functional settings. These objects provide a concrete means for individuals to specify and learn about their differences and dependencies across a given boundary.

Objects, models and maps are simple but complex representations that can be observed and then used across different functional settings. These objects facilitate a process where individuals can jointly transform their knowledge.

A syntactical approach is based on the existence of a shared and sufficient syntax at a given boundary. A common syntax or language is shared between the ‘sender’ and receiver. Integrating devices are processing tools (repositories) and integration is accomplished through processing information. When novelty arises, the sufficiency of the syntax is in question and another boundary is faced. A semantic approach recognizes that there are always differences in kind and the emergence of novelty is a natural outcome in settings where innovation is required. Integrating devices are seen as processes or methods for translating and learning about differences at a boundary, but when negative consequences are faced, another boundary arises.

A pragmatic approach recognizes that knowledge is localized, embedded and invested in practice. This view highlights the negative consequences that can arise given the differences at a boundary. Integrating devices (objects, models and maps) are used to create new knowledge. Sketches can be seen as a pragmatic boundary object during idea generation. In order to move beyond a knowledge barrier, designers can use sketches to communicate and explain their ideas to others.

Individuals must be able to alter the content of a boundary object to apply what they know (Carlile, 2002). As novelty of the situation increases, this study argues that designers, who face more pragmatic boundaries, will need boundary objects to see consequences of social interactions with others. In the engineering industry, all the information is expresses in a common framework using 3-D design so that everyone concerned with the project can quickly respond to each other (Baba & Nobeoka, 1998). Visual tools, such as sketches, facilitate the processing of novel information and may lead to a faster understanding (Feiereisen et al, 2008). Thus the following hypothesis is developed:

H4: the usage of pragmatic boundary objects will moderate the relationship between the retrieval function of the TMS and creativity, such that retrieval is more likely to have a positive relationship with creativity

2.4 Knowledge through ‘ba’

Information becomes knowledge if it is given meaning through interpretation and interaction.

Knowledge exchange cannot simply be a matter of transferring it across groups engaged in different practices; knowledge must be transformed through decontextualization and recontextualization (Spender, 1996)

Tsoukas (2002) argues that these mechanisms to interact can be used to predict and guide behavior. These tools can enable a skilled user to get things done and need to become instruments through which we act- of which we are subsidiarily aware- not objects of attention. Objects can be used to ease the transfer of tacit knowledge, since this knowledge is not visible. Tacit knowledge is highly personal and hard to formalize, making it difficult to communicate or share with others. Whereas explicit knowledge can be expressed in words and numbers and shared in the form of data (Nonaka et al, 2000). The most explicit kind of knowledge is underlain by tacit knowledge (Tsoukas, 2002).

Although the tacit knowledge of each individual is personal and unique, it can be absorbed by others through social relationships and collaboration (Mascitelli, 2000).

Nonaka (1994) introduced the concept of ‘ba’ to be specific to knowledge creation in order to include these concept-specific items. According to him, ‘ba’ can be thought of as a shared space for emerging relationships. This space can be physical (e.g an office), virtual (email, teleconference), mental (shared experiences, ideas) or any combination of them. What differentiates ‘ba’ from ordinary human interaction is the concept of knowledge creation. According to Nonaka et al (2000), ‘ba’ provides a platform for advancing individual and collective knowledge. Knowledge is embedded in ‘ba ‘where it is then acquired through one’s own experience or reflections on the experience of others (Nonaka et al. 2000). An environment is created, whether physical or virtual, that lends itself to the creation and sharing of knowledge. It can emerge in individuals as well as in teams and is an existential place where participants share their contexts and create new meanings through interactions (Nonaka & Toyama, 2003).

Participants of ba bring in their own contexts and through interactions with others and the environment, the contexts of ‘ba’, participants and the environment, change. A good ‘ba’ needs participants with multiple contexts and yet a shared context is necessary for a ‘ba’ to exist (Nonaka et al, 2000). It sets a boundary for interactions among individuals and yet the boundary is open. It is not bound to a certain space or time (Nonaka and Toyama, 2003).

When participating in a ‘ba’, it is important that these individuals share time and space through their direct experience.

As mentioned before a good ‘ba’ can provide a platform for advancing individual and/or collective knowledge ( Nonaka et al, 2000).

A TMS can be seen as a combination of knowledge possessed by individuals and focuses on the utilization of expertise (Hollingshead, 2000; Lewis, 2003; Wegner, 1986).

This expertise could be gathered by the retrieval function of the TMS, creating a ‘ba’, where during interaction, new insights and new knowledge can be developed and in turn, could enhance creativity.

An originationg ‘ba’, a dialoguing ‘ba’, a systemizing ‘ba’ and an exercising ‘ba’ support a particular knowledge conversion process and there by ‘ba’ speeds up the process of knowledge creation:

2.4.1 Originating ‘ba’

An originating ‘ba’ takes place in a world where individuals share feelings, emotions, experiences and mental models. An individual sympathizes or further empathizes with others, removing the barriers between the self and others. It is the primary ‘ba’ from which the knowledge creation process begins

Importance of Brands and Branding

Abstract

Repetitive failures cost companies millions of dollars in redesign costs, liabilities, and transaction costs. However, by far the most serious cost of these failures is the lost business that results from customer defection. For service companies, the task of providing error-free services is even more challenging because their intangible nature renders subjective perceptions of quality. Equally troublesome is the uncontrollable element of customer participation in the service process because production and consumption occur as a simultaneous process. Despite these challenges however, service quality and customer satisfaction are closely related constructs. When service providers continuously strive to develop error-free processes, customer satisfaction is sure to follow.

Chapter 1: Introduction

Many marketers are rethinking their branding because competitive pressures, new channels, and changing customer needs have eroded their brands’ positions of strength. However, increased marketing expenditures to reposition brands often fail to produce any improvements in either overall image or market share. Experience has shown that companies should focus on achievable rather than aspirational positioning, and that three steps can help ensure success:

1. Ensure relevance to a customer’s frame of reference.

  • Be fully aware of the brand’s “frame of reference” so that a repositioning strategy will resonate with customers.
  • Look at a combination of customers’ attitudes and the situations in which the brand is used to obtain the most powerful customer insights.

2. Secure the customer’s “permission” for the positioning.

  • Recognize that permission amounts to a reasonable and logical extension of the brand in the customer’s eyes.
  • Leverage a brand’s unique emotional benefits to carry customers from their current brand perception to the intended one.

3. Deliver on the brand’s new promise.

  • Identify the pathway of performance “signals” that will convince customers of the new brand positioning.
  • Develop product/service programs to ensure consistent performance on these signals.
  • Track and assess performance against customer signals prior to launching the new positioning.
  • Adopt an “interim positioning” to establish brand credibility and performance.

An array of factors is requiring marketers today to rethink their brand positioning. Changing customer needs are often eroding the brand’s established position. At the same time, increasing competitive pressures created by new entrants and product innovations, and the proliferation of new channels and promotional campaigns, are driving marketers back to the drawing board.

Many CEOs and CMOs, however, find themselves displeased with the results of their repositioning efforts. Increased marketing expenditures devoted to repositioning brands in the minds of consumers often fail to produce any improvements in either overall image or market share. Why do these well-intentioned efforts turn into marketing failures? While there are many causes, companies often fail to focus on achievable brand positioning rather than branding in service sector. Too often, their efforts target an ambitious goal that outstrips the actual ability of the brand to deliver on what it has promised to customers. Or the goal is too far from customers’ current brand perception to be a realistic brand objective. For example:

  • In the late 1 980s Oldsmobile wanted to revitalize its brand and gear it to a younger audience. Thus marketers at General Motors launched a creative campaign around the tagline, “Not your father’s Oldsmobile,” highlighting the car’s improved styling and new features. But for many younger consumers, this was too much of a stretch for the brand. The product modifications did not go far enough to meet the needs and expectations of the new customer set they were targeting. As a result, Oldsmobile recognized the need to shift its campaign. Eventually, GM closed its Oldsmobile division.
  • More recently, United Airlines’ Rising campaign attempted to position the brand as the most passenger-centric airline, with a clear understanding of customer problems and the solutions needed to fix them. The campaign had the effect of raising expectations, which were quickly deflated, however, by the brand’s inability to deliver against the promises made as part of its bold new positioning platform. Consequently, United was forced to change its central brand message — no longer emphasizing Rising.
  • Many high-tech businesses have recently repositioned themselves as e-business brands. However little effort was made by these brands to clearly differentiate themselves from one another despite the millions of dollars spent on elaborate marketing programs. The net effect, according to their research, has been to sow confusion in the minds of customers, rather than to forge strong brand identities.

These examples — and most marketers can cite many others — underscore the imperative to pursue a brand positioning that is eminently achievable, not just attractive. Based on our experience, three steps can help ensure that they make this distinction: 1) ensuring relevance to a customer’s frame of reference; 2) securing the customer’s “permission” for the positioning; and 3) making sure that the brand delivers on its promise.

Be Relevant to the Customer’s Frame of Reference:

When repositioning a brand, it’s essential for marketers to capture not just the emotional and physical needs of the customer but the dynamics of the situation in which those needs occur. We refer to this as the customer’s “frame of reference.” For example, while isotonic beverages like Gatorade and Powerade are thirst-quenching drinks, consumers tend to think of them in the broader context of sports, exercise, and physical activity. Importantly, the frame of reference sets the parameters for customers’ consideration set — the brands they will choose from. Indeed, most customers have a very specific definition of what the brand is and what it can be relative to their frame of reference. Repositioning a brand too far from this frame of reference creates customer confusion that makes a positioning unsuccessful.

Attempting to brand Gatorade, for example, within a social, lighthearted context would probably be stretching the brand too far from the current sports/physical activity frame of reference. Similarly, a communications company known for data services for business customers would likely be positioning the brand too far outside of the customer’s frame of reference if it suddenly tried to launch a “friends-and-family” calling plan. Being fully aware of the frame of reference for a brand can help ensure that its repositioning strategy will resonate with customers. But the frame of reference is usually a combination of both customers’ attitudes and the situations in which the brand is used. As a result, we typically find the most powerful customer insights and segmentation come from looking at a combination of these factors

  • In some categories, customers’ broader attitudes are the dominant factor. How customers think about pet-related brands, for example, can be seen in the context of how they treat their own pets — whether they view them as family members, best friends/companions, or in a less personal way. If customers view pets as family members, the optimal message for the brand will appeal to such human qualities as nurturing and pampering. This “family member” orientation or frame of reference may help support a brand extension to a full range of pet services, such as grooming and accessories.
  • Other customer needs are not as consistent, but better understood within the context of specific situations or sub-categories. In the field of airline travel, for example, the customer’s frame of reference may be a function of the type of trip they are taking. The customer who is used to traveling within the U.S. in cramped coach-class conditions, for example, will have a much different set of needs and expectations than the traveler who is used to flying to international destinations with all the comforts of first-class service.
  • As a result, in most instances the frame of reference is built upon a combination of both of the above attitudinal and situational forces. For example, while consumers may generally have a health-conscious attitude about the foods they eat, on certain “special” occasions they may allow themselves to become more indulgent, creating what we call a “need state.”

A strong brand identity can also help marketers secure the desired permission from consumers. Because Victoria’s Secret owns or is associated with the notion of intimate moments, for example, it would be easier for that brand to get permission to introduce a new line of lingerie or perfume with a sensual connotation than it would be to launch a line of jeans or handbags.

In repositioning, marketers must embrace the idea that they are brand “stewards,” while customers define their relationship with the brand and determine the basis for the relationship. A steward must spend more time deeply understanding what customers really think about the brand and where potential “bridges” to growth and new branding exist. For example, Smuckers could leverage the “wholesome goodness” their loyal customers attribute to them instead of solely focusing on themselves as fruit processors.

Marketers should not attempt to cover the waterfront here, but instead focus on the relevant interrelated “hot buttons” that will clearly convey the message. For example, in the case of a technology brand positioning itself as “humanizing technology for everyday people,” the strongest set of pathways to the positioning came from product signals such as customized hardware and specific application platforms (e.g., games, household management) rather than from equipment with the latest features and innovative design. The pathway modeling also indicated the strong signal value of the brand’s customer service representatives having an understanding of an individual customer’s needs. This important service signal led to the broader customer perception of the brand as caring — an important personality signal for the brand to deliver on its positioning. Additionally, the marketer learned that having technicians follow through with customers to issue resolution was a critical service signal that led to the broader personality signal of the brand being professional — another key for the brand to live up to its positioning. With these insights, the marketer could allocate resources accordingly, ensuring that the more important signals were being appropriately supported.

  • Develop necessary product/service programs to ensure consistent performance on these signals to the customer. For example, if the brand positioning is built around superior customer satisfaction, but frontline sales people are measured on revenue rather than satisfaction, it is unlikely that consistent performance will be achieved. So, if airline gate agents are the first and most important contact point for customers, they should be empowered to solve customers’ issues instead of redirecting them to customer service personnel. In the technology brand example, given the importance of the customer service representatives and service technicians, there should be a greater emphasis on the quality of the service delivered rather than on the number of customers that can be serviced over a given time period.
  • Make sure approaches are in place to track and assess your performance against these customer signals prior to the formal launching of the new positioning. Applying rigorous quality assurance procedures to key elements of the new brand experience will often ensure that customers are not disappointed, or fail to have their expectations met. Current data-collection methods allow for rapid response and can be leveraged to determine whether the launch programs are having their desired effect on brand perceptions.
  • Due to the complexities of brand positioning, many marketers are correctly choosing to move to an “interim positioning.” This interim positioning is designed to establish brand credibility and performance on the road to fully achieving the longer-term aspirational positioning. Such a positioning focuses on those aspects of the brand on which the organization is currently able to deliver. Interim positioning is often essential when a brand stakes out new territory considered “up market,” addresses an important or longstanding deficiency, or is attempting to redefine its competitive set. As the brand evolves (based on customers’ changing perceptions), additional components of the new platform can be put into place and confidently communicated to consumers. Target Stores successfully employed an interim positioning as it evolved the brand up market from a position as a discount retailer of national brands to a contemporary “urban chic” retail brand providing good value. The interim positioning emphasized value without sacrificing style and involved specific merchandising efforts such as stylized color blocking and associations with name designers (e.g., Frank Gehry). As the brand evolved to its current positioning, it further emphasized the “designer” theme in its advertising, often having models wearing various house wares as high fashion.

By focusing on achievable instead of aspirational brand positioning, companies can help ensure meaningful market share results while enhancing their brand image. This requires, however that the new brand position fits comfortably within the customer’s frame of reference, and that it not attempt to overreach. Marketers must also secure the customer’s permission to extend the brand by building a bridge of relevant benefits to carry customers from the current to the intended brand position. Implementing the performance delivery systems to ensure the brand is able to live up to its new promise is the final critical step in building and executing a successful brand positioning program.

Chapter 2: Literature Review
2.1 Branding: Definition and benefits

Literature gives several definitions of the term brand. The common themes are that a brand is more than just a combination of a name, a design, a symbol or other features that differentiate a good or a service from others. It is a unique set of tangible and intangible added values that are perceived and valued by the customer. In addition a brand is said to have personality, an emotional bond to the customer that grows out of the perceived characteristics.

These certain features of a brand grow out of a complex set of added values that can comprise of history and tradition, additional services, marketing messages, quality, popularity of the product amongst a certain group of users (status) and others. These basis’s of a brand perception prove that a strong brand can not be established over night The development of a brand takes time, strong financial marketing muscle and good marketing skills such as

  • Insight into customer needs,
  • Ability to offer products or services that meet those needs,
  • Creativity to produce exiting and compelling advertising,
  • Ability to communicate differentiation in a way that customers understand and that motivates them.

Without this process they do not have a brand but only a name and a sign for a product. Brands have benefits for both, the brand owners as sellers and the customers:

Benefits of a brand for

Sellers

Customers

  • Identifies the companies products, makes repeat purchases easier
  • Facilitates promotion efforts
  • Fosters brand loyalty – stabilises market share
  • Allows to charge premium prices and thus to get better margins
  • Allows to extend the brand to new products, new markets and to new geographic areas
  • Can communicate directly with the customer, reach over the shoulder of the retailer
  • More leverage with middlemen
  • Is more resistant to price competition
  • Can have a long life
  • Is more forgiving of mistakes
  • Helps identify products
  • Helps evaluate the quality of a product
  • Helps to reduce perceived risk in buying, provides assurance of quality, reliability etc.
  • Is dependable (consistent in quality)
  • May offer psychological reward (status symbol)
  • “rout map” through a range of alternatives
  • Saves customer time
  • Is easier to process mentally

With this potential a brand can offer an important competitive advantage for a seller who has decided for a differentiation strategy. Even in markets with many similar products or services a brand can provide some sort of uniqueness to a certain product. Depending from the strength of a brand the branded product thus can be positioned towards a more monopolistic situation.

With all these characteristics a brand is important in an organisations marketing mix. Although it is basically a certain feature of the category “product”, it influences every component of the marketing mix:

  • The product gets a higher value in the perception of the customers.
  • This influences the pricing policy in the way that often a premium can be charged.
  • The promotional strategy and mix will be different because it is more focused on the brand than on the individual product. For instance the introduction of a new product under a well established umbrella brand requires a very different promotion campaign than the introduction of a new brand or an unbranded product.

The decision for the place and the marketing channel is influenced because a branded product with a higher perceived value might be placed in an environment that is well related to the brands personality, e.g. gourmet shop vs. food department in a supermarket.

2.2 Branding strategies:

Besides the more general decision for the use of brands the decision for the branding strategies is important. There are several aspects to be considered:

  • Ownership of brands
  • Structure of brand systems

Regarding the ownership, Dibb (1997) and Kotler (1999) differentiate between five categories:

These decisions need to be taken carefully. They offer not only large opportunities but also various risks:

A company which has strong manufacturer brands may decide to sell the same or similar products to retailers for use as their own label brands. If consumers become aware of this they might change their perception of the manufacturer brand:

  • “They get the same product for a lower price under my retailers brand.” or
  • “They sell the same thing under another name very cheap. This product is not exclusive anymore. I go for another brand then.”

Extensive permissions for the licensed use of a strong brand for other products can destroy the value of the brand. Pierre Cardin has lost lots of its luxury appeal since various goods with this name can be found in every department store. The structure of brand systems describes how an organisations products and brands are related. Dibb (1997) distinguishes between:

2.3 Branding for service industries:

2.3.1 Reason for branding services:

Although the principles for branding of goods and services are generally the same there occur some differences. These arise from the different natures of both categories. The main differences that influence branding policies are that services

  • Have a changing level of quality,
  • The consumer has to become involved in the consumption of a service actively,
  • They are intangible and not storable.

When a brand in general gives the consumer more confidence in his choice this is even more important for services. Their quality and other features are more difficult to asses. Because of their intangibility and complexity it is harder for the customer to distinguish between the offers from the wide range of service companies are working in the market place.

This especially applies to the market of accounting, auditing and consulting where consolidation and globalisation increase competition. In an FT-article about branding accounting services (Kelly 1998) a branding expert states that “more than 70 % of the Fortune 500 companies …said branding is increasingly important in helping them to choose where to get a service. They want to be able to tell who is good at what.”

2.3.2 Drivers for the use of branding in the accounting/consulting industry with a focus on the Big Five (former Big Six) firms:

The Big Five accounting firms have a long history up to 75 to 100 years. These firms have developed from smaller entities through co-operations and mergers. Often new products and new markets have been developed by “buying in”, by buying the expertise and the access in the form of other firms. For many small and medium accounting and auditing firms it is attractive to join the association (in most cases) of one of the large players for the following reasons:

The form of an association with independent member firms allows to retain a level of individuality – although in some cases this is not long-lasting. The membership in an large powerful firm gives a competitive advantage (reputation, access to knowledge, access to new markets, higher market share, cost savings through sharing resources, e.g. for training and recruitment etc.).

Partners of these smaller firms are often offered to become partners in the large firm.

For a long time the industry did not put much effort in the development of brands.

The tradition and long lasting reputation of the Big Five itself gave their names a considerable brand value. For quite a long time this was fairly enough for their purposes. In Kelly’s (1998) article a professional firms branding expert states that for many years the accountancy firms hid behind the “convenient parapet” of the Big Six brand label. In the audit market most shareholders were happy to have any audit firm as long as it was from the Big Six.Other factors were legal limitations for advertising. Accounting firms were first allowed to advertise in 1984. That means that marketing and communications focused mainly on activities like excellent work and the power of word of mouth, job advertisements (as the only allowed advertisements they were used as a means to present the company), speaking at conferences, publishing articles in professional journals, co-operating with universities and business schools and so on. Accounting firms saw themselves as a conservative industry with discretion as one of their services. In their minds this didn’t go together with an aggressive marketing campaign.In the last years the industry has seen some developments that required new strategies:

  • Globalisation: A global client needs a global auditor because companies are legally required to prepare consolidated financial statements including all subsidies around the world. This is much easier if you have all subsidies audited by the same firm. In addition global clients have a high need for specialised consulting. They often prefer a consultant that is as global as they are to get more expertise and consistency.
  • Stagnation in the core business: The traditional auditing business does not show high growth rates. An individual firms growth can mainly be achieved at the expense of competitors.
  • Growth in consulting services: On the contrary to the auditing business there is an enormous growth for consulting services. The accounting firms have traditionally done some consulting and now they developed these activities aggressively. This had two results:
  • A growing variety of services offered – these new products had to be communicated to existing and potential clients Accounting firms came into direct competition with the traditional consulting firms which had their own brands and reputation
  • Need for qualified people: With the development of new products/services all firms needed much more highly qualified people. Recruitment became an important issue. (For example: The German member firm of PricewaterhouseCoopers took on about 1000 new employees in 1998, the first year after the merger.) This led to a competition to attract the best university students.

All these factors together increased competition amongst the Big Five. For this industry excellent quality is not a means to get a competitive advantage, it is an important requirement for any success at all. A large variety of services is important; but the customer will perceive it only in the moment he needs a certain service.

In this situation the Big Five did not manage to differentiate themselves successfully from competition. A survey conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers during the merger process revealed that “the business community and the general public did not – and do not – perceive any compelling differences between and among either the Big Six or the Big Five. Not only did all firms appear to have similar defining qualities, they were also not sending any consistent messages about their organisations to external audiences.”Here a strong brand with a personality and a clear message can be a valuable means for differentiation and thus for gaining a competitive advantage. By now we can say that the Big Five have become aware of this. Now they invest heavily to reposition themselves and to develop their good names to real power brands.

2.4 Benefits of branding:

Branding is the process of creating distinctive and durable perceptions in the minds of consumers. A brand is a persistent, unique business identity intertwined with associations of personality, quality, origin, liking and more. Here’s why the effort to brand their company or their self pays off.

· Memorability: A brand serves as a convenient container for a reputation and good will. It’s hard for customers to go back to “that whats its name store” or to refer business to “the plumber from the Yellow Pages.” In addition to an effective company name, it helps when people have material reminders reinforcing the identity of companies they will want to do repeat business with: refrigerator magnets, tote bags, date books, coasters, key rings, first aid kits, etc. Memorability can come from using and sticking with an unusual color combination (FedEx’s purple and orange), distinctive behavior (the gas station whose attendants literally run to clean your windshield), or with an individual, even a style of clothing (Author Tom Wolfe’s white suits). Develop their own identifiers and nail them to their company name in the minds of their public.

· Loyalty: When people have a positive experience with a memorable brand, they’re more likely to buy that product or service again than competing brands. People who closely bond with a brand identity are not only more likely to repurchase what they bought, but also to buy related items of the same brand, to recommend the brand to others and to resist the lure of a competitor’s price cut. The brand identity helps to create and to anchor such loyalty. Consider the legions of car owners who travel up to 2,000 miles at their own expense to attend a Saturn celebration at the company’s plant in Spring Hill, Tennessee. That’s loyalty. And supposedly, more people have the motorcycle brand “Harley-Davidson” tattooed on their body than any other brand name. That’s out-of-this-world loyalty.

· Familiarity. Branding has a big effect on non-customers too. Psychologists have shown that familiarity induces liking. Consequently, people who have never done business with you but have encountered their company identity sufficient times may become willing to recommend them even when they have no personal knowledge of their products or services. Seeing their ads on local buses, having their pen on their desk, reading about them in the Hometown News, they spread the word for them when a friend or colleague asks if they know a ____ and that’s what they do.

· Premium image, premium price: Branding can lift what they sell out of the realm of a commodity, so that instead of dealing with price-shoppers they have buyers eager to pay more for their goods than for those of competitors. Think of some people’s willingness to buy the currently “in” brand of bottled water, versus toting along an unlabeled bottle of the same stuff filled from the office water cooler.The distinctive value inherent in a brand can even lead people to dismiss evidence they would normally use to make buying decisions. I once saw one middle-aged Cambridge, Massachusetts, intellectual argue to several colleagues that Dunkin’ Donuts’ coffee tastes better than Starbucks’. So contradictory was this claim to the two companies’ reputations for this demographic group that the colleagues refused to put the matter to a taste test.

· Extensions: With a well-established brand, they can spread the respect they will earn to a related new product, service or location and more easily win acceptance of the newcomer. For instance, when a winery with a good reputation starts up regional winery tours, and then adds foreign ones, each business introduction benefits from the positive perceptions already in place.

· Greater company equity: Making their company into a brand usually means that they can get more money for the company when they decide to sell it. A Coca-Cola executive once said that if all the company’s facilities and inventory vanished all around the world, he could walk into any bank and take out a loan based only on the right to the Coca-Cola name and formula.

· Lower marketing expenses: Although they must invest money to create a brand, once it’s created they can maintain it without having to tell the whole story about the brand every time they market it. For instance, a jingle people in their area have heard a zillion times continues to promote the company when it’s played without any words.

· For consumers, less risk: When someone feels under pressure to make a wise decision, he or she tends to choose the brand-name supplier over the no-name one. As the saying goes, “They’ll never be fired for buying IBM.” By building a brand, they fatten their bottom line.

2.5 Brand structures for services industries:

As for services, literature suggests to use the companies name – a so called corporate brand – as the overall family brand for all the services offered. Murphy (1990) calls this the “monolithic approach”. He argues that especially for companies which offer an enormous array of services (e.g. consultants, banks) corporate names must be used to deliver more generalised benefits of quality, value and integrity. de Chernatony (1996) comes to the conclusion that corporate brands are a crucial means to help make the service offering more tangible in consumers minds and can enhance consumers perceptions and trust in the range of services provided by the company.

One disadvantage of corporate brands – little opportunity for developing second or sub-brands for differentiated product lines- applies more to branded products. However Murphy (1990) states that many companies have chosen an approach of “local autonomy but group-wide coherence” as a system whereby individual divisions and products are largely free-standing but mention is made in all literature and on all stationery and products that “company A is member of the XYZ group”. This approach is very common amongst the Big Five accounting and auditing firms. It allows their national member firms, to exploit the groups brand name and their own (brand) name at the same time. Many member firms that had joined the global firms have lon

Transactive Memory System and Creativity of Dutch Designers

Preface

The author declares that the text and work presented in this Master thesis are original and that no other sources other than those mentioned in the text and its references have been used in creating the Master thesis.

The copyright of the Master thesis rests with the author. The author is responsible for its contents. RSM Erasmus University is only responsible for the educational coaching and beyond that cannot be held responsible for its contents.

Abstract

This research examines the impact of the transactive memory system on the creativity of Dutch fashion designers, architects and graphic designers. The transactive memory system (TMS) consists of individual expertise of members as well as their knowledge of ‘who knows what’ and is based on communication. The emphasis in this thesis is given to the retrieval function of the TMS. This function could have an impact on the process of idea generation.

In this research a special focus will be on the concept of ‘ba’, developed by Nonaka (1994). Central to the ‘ba’ stands the idea of knowledge creation during interaction.

Approximately five hundred designers were sent an online survey about the impact of the environment, knowledge creation and knowledge transfer on the retrieval of information during idea generation. The final number of cases used was 128 and these were empirically investigated using a multiple regression analysis.

Results showed that having connections with other individuals did have a significant impact on the creativity of Dutch designers during idea generation (β=.379 significant at level .001).

Furthermore, the use of explicit knowledge showed to have an unexpected positive moderating effect on the relationship between retrieving information and creativity (β=.202 significant at level .05). However, the other aspects did not show significant results.

Chapter 1 Introduction and research topic
Introduction

‘The secret to creativity is knowing how to hide your resources’

Albert Einstein

In order to be successful in the creative industry, designers have to be able to deliver what is perceived to be creative. But what is creativity?

Many researchers focused on the personality approach; defining creativity as a personality trait. Simonton (2003) argued that creativity has three essential components: person, product and process. These components have to be interrelated in order to recognize creativity. Koestler (1964) proposed that creativity involves a ‘bisociative process’- connecting two frames of reference to produce new insight or invention.

Amabile et al (2005) mentioned that creative performance can be affected by the work environment in every context; a school, a room, a design studio or organization. Amabile (1983) focused on the process of creativity and identified that social and environmental influences are also of importance in creative performance. She developed a framework, which describes the way in which cognitive abilities: personality characteristics and social factors might contribute to the different stages of the creative process. Social networks are taken as to be one of these social factors.

How does this work in the creative industry? Designers must have all of the resources and assets available in order to succeed in today’s highly competitive marketplace. But where do new ideas come from? And in what way do these ideas affect creativity?

Marlies Dekkers designs her collections based on a different concept than traditional underwear. Every collection is inspired by movies, art or literature. When she has a moment of inspiration, even if it is in the middle of the night, all the members of her designing team receive a text message with her idea. They all discuss this idea the next morning.

Rem Koolhaas has been successful architect for more than twenty years. He celebrates the chance-like nature of city life: ‘the city is an addictive machine from where there is no escape’. Another key theme in architectural design was introduced by Koolhaas. This notion: the ‘Program’, involves an act to contribute to human activities.

Over the past 15 years Viktor and Rolf have taken the fashion world by storm with their particular blend of cool irony and surreal beauty. They created The House of Viktor & Rolf that presents each of the designer’s signature pieces from 1992 to now, shown in a specially commissioned and characteristically theatrical installation. They are most well-known for their fantastical and concept driven designs and for their conceptually driven fashion show presentations. Subjects of their work include their analysis of fashion and the fashion industry, the idea of the fashion designer as a story teller, transformation and illusions.

Marlies Dekkers, Rem Koolhaas and Viktor & Rolf are successful, but are inspired in different ways. It could be interesting to know in what way social relationships affect creativity; what kinds of relationships are part of the process of generating ideas? Family, friends or peers? And within which context and with what means are these ideas shared, transferred or created?

Perry- Smith and Shalley (2003) focused on the importance of generating creative ideas and tried to explore the association between the context of social relationships and individual creativity.

They argued that informal relationships are more beneficial, in general, than formal relationships for creativity. Informal relationships are not specifically required as a part of the job. These relationships are more likely to provide connections to people with diverse viewpoints and perspectives (Perry-Smith, 2008). Informal ties ease the process of communication rather than formal ties.

Conversations with others can therefore not only be a source of ideas, but also a driving force behind creativity. Nonaka & Toyama (2003) discuss the potential of these dialogues as they introduce the concept of ‘Ba’; a context or place, which can transcend beyond boundaries to create knowledge. Knowledge creation occurs as the actors synthesize tacit and explicit knowledge in social space. Conversations can create new knowledge and enhance creativity. Searching for information and getting inspired is essential during this process.

A transactive memory system (TMS) is a collective memory of who knows what. This is a shared system for encoding, storing and retrieving information (Wegner, 1986). The TMS is based on the idea that individual members can serve as external memory to others. Its value is determined by the willingness of members to search for the specific expertise. Members are able to benefit from each other’s knowledge and expertise if they develop a good, shared understanding of who knows what in the group/unit. They are able to develop deep expertise in specialty areas and they can rely on other members to provide access to others’ specific knowledge (Lewis, 2003). Retrieving information is a valuable asset of a TMS: individuals with specialized expertise can be found quickly. Designer creativity and the retrieval function of a TMS have not yet been associated with each other; connections to people who are creative or have specific expertise may help individuals be more creative (Perry-Smith, 2008).

Therefore the subsequent question will be central in this research:

What is the effect of the retrieval function of a transactive memory system on the creativity of fashion designers, architects and graphic designers in the Netherlands?

The following sub-questions can be derived:

– How is a transactive memory system used to generate new ideas?

– How is a transactive memory system used during the transfer of knowledge?

1.1 Research Objective

The objective of this research is to provide some new insights as to how the retrieval function of the transactive memory system (TMS) can have an impact on the creativity of designers.

The purpose of this research is to test theory and causal relations. The most appropriate research strategy will be the survey design since we are dealing with probabilistic hypotheses.

The numbers of respondents to the survey in this research were 128.

1.2 Thesis structure

The next chapter will discuss the theoretical issues, namely the concept of creativity and the transactive memory system. Chapter 3 will justify the chosen research design and the analysis of the results. The general discussion, implications and recommendations will be described in Chapter 4.

Part I
Chapter 2 Literature Review

‘Everything you can imagine is real’

Pablo Picasso

This chapter will discuss the relationship between the retrieval function of the TMS and creativity as well as different aspects that could moderate this relationship. The first section will explain how retrieving information can play a role during idea generation. The following part will discuss the cognitive elements that could impact this relationship such as absorptive capacity, scanning the environment, the usage of boundary objects and the role of a shared context (‘ba’). A conceptual model will be presented at the end of this chapter, displaying the presumed relationships.

Introduction

Designers operate in a creative environment and are faces with innovative tasks. They should be able to identify trends and changes during idea generation. This phenomenon called environmental scanning can be used to retrieve relevant information.

Cohen and Levinthal (1990) argue that the ability to exploit external knowledge is critical during the generation of ideas. They introduce the concept of absorptive capacity, which is the ability to take in and make use of new knowledge. In this way, retrieving information requires prior related knowledge to assimilate this newly acquired information.

Sharing information means sharing knowledge. The context in which these interactions take place is crucial. Knowledge is created by means of interaction among individuals or between individuals and their environment. ‘Ba’ is the context shared by those who interact with each other (Nonaka & Toyama, 2003). Thus, designers could retrieve relevant information when participating in a ‘ba’.

To deliver creative products, designers need to be able to combine and integrate knowledge. They could face knowledge boundaries during interaction. Different boundary objects can be used to manage knowledge across boundaries (Carlile, 2002).

The first difficulty that needs to be addressed is the way different types of ‘ba’, the environment and the usage of absorptive capacity are related to retrieving information.

The second problem that needs to be addressed is how boundary objects are being used dring the generation of ideas.

The most common means of identifying creativity has been through its products. In architecture, music, writing, art and even scientific discovery the presence of a creative product is of importance (Akin & Akin, 1998)

Creativity is generally defined as the production of novel, useful ideas or problem solutions. It refers to both the process of idea generation or problem solving and the actual idea or solution (Amabile, 1983).

Drawing on the assumption that novelty is the distinguished feature of creative work, Simonton (1999) focused his theory on variation. In this theory, the process of variation primarily contributes to idea novelty; it is guided by the existence of knowledge elements that are available for combination into new variations within the creator’s mind. According to Simonton (1999), the initial selection of ideas goes on within the mind of the individual creator, through a process of testing them against relevant criteria for novelty. Once an idea has been selected by the creator, developed, and communicated, there is often a second selection process by relevant individuals in a social group or community. In Simonton’s view, creativity depends in large part on novelty, and because novelty is largely a function of cognitive variation, interacting with other individuals is likely to increase the probability of creativity.

Creativity is a choice made by an individual to engage in producing novel ideas; the level of engagement can vary from situation to situation. In this thesis creativity is defined as thinking outside of general frames of reference that leads to generation of novel ideas, solution to problems, or innovations (Akin & Akin, 1998).

In order to create a new product, diverse ideas become available from past experiences. In this way, individuals enrich their own knowledge domain with other knowledgeable persons who help them to retrieve and apply knowledge components during idea generation (Taylor & Greve, 2006).

This means as a conclusion that individual creativity and the ability to deliver innovations depend on interactions in social systems (Amabile, 1996). Relevant ideas can be generated through communication and through the retrieval information from external sources. External knowledge and the interpretation of the environment can be such sources.

2.1 Transactive memory system & creativity

Creativity does not just play a role in arts, invention and innovation; it also is a part of our everyday life (Runco, 2004). He defines creative thinking in terms of cognitive processes that lead to an original and adaptive insight, idea or solution. What is unique about this definition is the reliance on cognitive processes. This definition assumes that all creative work requires some cognition and that everything we do requires information processing. Creative ideas generated from one’s cognitive processes are influenced by the individual’s personal experiences. A combination of individual and other’s knowledge is an ideal means to obtain information and be creative. Strategic management researchers have proposed a knowledge processing view of the firm that emphasizes the importance of social interaction as the process through which knowledge is created and transferred in organizations (Kogut & Zander, 1992; Nonaka, 1994).

Nanaka & Takeuchi (1995) argue that knowledge consists of tacit and explicit dimensions. Explicit knowledge is that which can be expressed in words and numbers. It is easily communicated and shared in the form of hard data, codified procedures or universal principles. In contrast, tacit knowledge is highly personal, difficult to formalize and consist of subjective insights; intuitions and hunches (Davenport & Prusak, 1998; Alavi & Leidner, 2001). These forms of knowledge are mutually dependent and have qualities that reinforce each other. It is via the process of continual interaction between tacit and explicit knowledge that new knowledge is created. Nonaka & Toyama (2003) argue that knowledge creation starts with ‘socialization’, which is the process of converting new tacit knowledge through shared experiences in day-to-day social interaction.

A transactive memory system (TMS)

has been defined as a combination of an individual’s knowledge and a shared awareness of who knows what (Wegner, 1986). This represents a ‘divided up into portions’ type of knowledge sharing. TMS was initially proposed to explain the knowledge residing amongst intimate couples and family members when they are able to bring together disparate knowledge to solve a problem. This means even though the solution to any issue at hand may not be readily available, family members do know how to come together and develop a response. Wegner (1986) explains that members are able to benefit from each other’s knowledge and expertise if they develop a good, shared understanding of who knows what in the unit/group. TMS is built on the distinction between internal and external memory encoding. Often, individuals encode new (tacit) knowledge internally, in their own memory. However, even more often individuals encode or use knowledge encoded externally.

According to Wegner (1986) a TMS can be explained as a set of individual memory systems in combination with the communication that takes place between individuals. He argues that an individual’s memory system becomes connected with those of other individuals involving three stages:

Directory updating. Directory updating or expertise recognition is the process by which team members learn which topics others know without learning the actual information within each topic. Furthermore, members come to understand their own areas of expertise within the team

Communication to allocate information. Communication to allocate information is characterized by a team member using his or her directory of expertise to forward new information outside of his or her domain(s) of expertise (Anand et al 1998).

Communication to retrieve information. Although it is important to possess relevant knowledge, the knowledge must also be utilized to be successful. Communication to retrieve information is the process by which individuals seek specialized information from the team’s domain expert to help in task completion when their personal knowledge bases are insufficient.

A transactive memory system will be most effective when knowledge assignments are based on the members’ actual ability, when there is a shared understanding between the members and when members fulfill expectations (Brandon & Hollingshead, 2004).

This research focuses on the process to retrieve information for it is in the retrieval process where usefulness and efficiency of a TMS can be achieved (Wegner et al 1985). This retrieval process could result in the creation of new knowledge. The creation of new knowledge leads us to creativity. Creativity could be seen as a mental event by which an actor intentionally goes beyond his or her previous experiences in order to gain novel and appropriate outcomes; the TMS can help individuals to achieve these outcomes (Pandza & Thorpe, 2009).

Transactive retrieval requires determining the location of information and sometimes entails the combination or interplay of items coming from multiple locations. This process begins when the person who holds an item internally is not the one who is asked to retrieve it. In transactive memory this can occur when individuals respond to a particular information label and one group member retrieves one item whereas a second member retrieves something quite different. In their discussion it could be determined that two items add up to yet a third idea. These so-called external components of information are not personally known but can be retrieved when required (Anand et al, 1998). If we ask a question to a person who is a well-integrated part of a transactive memory network, this person is often able to answer (after consulting with other network members, of course) with information well beyond his or her internal storage. When team members correctly identify the experts and delegate tasks based on an individual member’s expertise, they perform better (Hollingshead, 2000). Brandon and Hollingshead (2004) argue that representation of tasks is critical to the structure of the TMS; the features of tasks are embedded in the transactive memory process.

In this way, team performance in terms of creativity may depend on whether the group can correctly recognize and utilize the knowledge of its members (Brandon & Hollingshead, 2004). The interaction of different perspectives enabled by a TMS is a large contributor to the discovery of insight and the creation of knowledge (Jehn et al, 1999; Nonaka & Takeuchi, 1995; Nonaka & Toyama, 2001).

As individuals will retrieve relevant information via a TMS, it is probable designers will discover new knowledge and improve creativity. Thus, the following hypothesis is defined:

H1: The usage of the retrieval function of the transactive memory system is likely to contribute to creativity

2.2 Interpretation and creating

As mentioned in the previous paragraph, creativity is concerned with generating novel outcomes (Pandza & Thorpe, 2009).

Creativity is defined as the production of novel ideas that are useful and appropriate to a given situation (Amabile, 1983). Cognitive styles are recognized as core characteristics of individual creativity. Cognitive style is a person’s preferred way of gathering, processing and evaluating information. It influences how people scan their environment for information, how they organize and interpret this information and how they integrate their interpretations that guide their actions (Amabile, 1988; Woodman et al., 1993).

According to Miliken (1990), action involves a response based on scanning and interpretation of information. Choo (1996) argues that the principal information process is the interpretation of news and messages about the environment. Individuals must determine what information is significant and should be attended to. Interpretation involves the development of ways of comprehending information; the fitting of information into some structure for understanding action (Thomas et al, 1993). Interpretation of the environment also requires identifying threats and opportunities (Miliken, 1990); which requires designers to assess the meaning and significance of each trend, change and event they noticed during the scanning phase.

During this phase information is gathered. If one has access to more information, it is also important to select information that is useful to interpret issues (Thomas et al, 1993). Another purpose of scanning is identifying the key trends, changes and events in an environment that might affect performance (Miliken, 1990).

Monitoring and analyzing the environment enhances the ability to enter new knowledge domains. Information about the environment can be gathered through different channels, such as personal relationships with peers (Danneels, 2008). Daft and Lengel (1986) explain that the interpretation of the environment is the source of information processing. Cohen and Levinthal (1990) argue that the ability to recognize the value of new information using prior knowledge is critical to innovative capabilities. This phenomenon, called absorptive capacity is used to give rise to creativity; using prior knowledge to assimilate and use new knowledge. An amount of absorptive capacity is needed to increase both the ability to acquire new knowledge and the ability to retrieve and use it (Cohen & Levinthal, 1990).

As mentioned in the previous paragraph, the retrieving function of the transactive memory system could be used to acquire new data, which is combined with the creation of new interpretations about the environment, which in turn can reduce the uncertainty about the environment. Taking the importance of the ability to interact in different contexts, scanning the environment could put some people in more advantageous positions than others to be creative. Some persons are considered to have contacts with individuals in other fields of expertise who may possess or develop knowledge that can have an impact on their current work. Creative individuals who interact with other designers and are aware of trends could be considered to achieve more creative ideas. Individuals can scan the environment and benefit from this novel information flow. TMS can increase this learning process and can act as an interactive mechanism (Austin, 2003). A certain amount of absorptive capacity and environmental scanning could affect the relationship between the retrieval function of the TMS and creativity. Therefore the following hypotheses are defined:

H2: high levels of absorptive capacity will moderate the relationship between the retrieval function of the TMS and creativity, such that retrieval is more likely to have a positive relationship with creativity

H3: environmental scanning will moderate the relationship between the retrieval function of the TMS and creativity, such that retrieval is more likely to have a positive relationship with creativity

2.3 Boundary objects

Interacting to develop a shared understanding can be done using language and other symbols.

Individuals articulate what they intuitively know through dialogue and discourse (Choo, 1996). Texts are a variety of forms including written documents, verbal reports, art work, spoken words, pictures, symbols, buildings and other artifacts (Philip et al, 2004). Carlile (2002) define these objects as ‘boundary objects’. The notion of boundary objects was first introduced by Star and Griesemer (1989), who described the attributes of boundary objects that enable them to serve as translation devices; they have different meanings in different social worlds but their structure is common enough to more than one world to make them recognizable and function as a means of translation. Boundary objects can adapt to different context simultaneously while maintaining a common identity across all context, allowing each group to decontextualize its knowledge for use in common space and recontextualize it for use in its own practice (Bowker and Star, 1999). Boundary objects are enabled via ingoing transactions but also enable interaction. Carlile (2002) distinguishes among different types of boundaries- syntactic, semantic and pragmatic- that require different types of boundary objects:

Repositories supply a common reference point of data, measures or labels across functions that provide shared definitions and values for solving problems. This object establishes a shared syntax or language for individuals to represent their knowledge.

Standardized forms and methods provide a shared format for solving problems across different functional settings. These objects provide a concrete means for individuals to specify and learn about their differences and dependencies across a given boundary.

Objects, models and maps are simple but complex representations that can be observed and then used across different functional settings. These objects facilitate a process where individuals can jointly transform their knowledge.

A syntactical approach is based on the existence of a shared and sufficient syntax at a given boundary. A common syntax or language is shared between the ‘sender’ and receiver. Integrating devices are processing tools (repositories) and integration is accomplished through processing information. When novelty arises, the sufficiency of the syntax is in question and another boundary is faced. A semantic approach recognizes that there are always differences in kind and the emergence of novelty is a natural outcome in settings where innovation is required. Integrating devices are seen as processes or methods for translating and learning about differences at a boundary, but when negative consequences are faced, another boundary arises.

A pragmatic approach recognizes that knowledge is localized, embedded and invested in practice. This view highlights the negative consequences that can arise given the differences at a boundary. Integrating devices (objects, models and maps) are used to create new knowledge. Sketches can be seen as a pragmatic boundary object during idea generation. In order to move beyond a knowledge barrier, designers can use sketches to communicate and explain their ideas to others.

Individuals must be able to alter the content of a boundary object to apply what they know (Carlile, 2002). As novelty of the situation increases, this study argues that designers, who face more pragmatic boundaries, will need boundary objects to see consequences of social interactions with others. In the engineering industry, all the information is expresses in a common framework using 3-D design so that everyone concerned with the project can quickly respond to each other (Baba & Nobeoka, 1998). Visual tools, such as sketches, facilitate the processing of novel information and may lead to a faster understanding (Feiereisen et al, 2008). Thus the following hypothesis is developed:

H4: the usage of pragmatic boundary objects will moderate the relationship between the retrieval function of the TMS and creativity, such that retrieval is more likely to have a positive relationship with creativity

2.4 Knowledge through ‘ba’

Information becomes knowledge if it is given meaning through interpretation and interaction.

Knowledge exchange cannot simply be a matter of transferring it across groups engaged in different practices; knowledge must be transformed through decontextualization and recontextualization (Spender, 1996)

Tsoukas (2002) argues that these mechanisms to interact can be used to predict and guide behavior. These tools can enable a skilled user to get things done and need to become instruments through which we act- of which we are subsidiarily aware- not objects of attention. Objects can be used to ease the transfer of tacit knowledge, since this knowledge is not visible. Tacit knowledge is highly personal and hard to formalize, making it difficult to communicate or share with others. Whereas explicit knowledge can be expressed in words and numbers and shared in the form of data (Nonaka et al, 2000). The most explicit kind of knowledge is underlain by tacit knowledge (Tsoukas, 2002).

Although the tacit knowledge of each individual is personal and unique, it can be absorbed by others through social relationships and collaboration (Mascitelli, 2000).

Nonaka (1994) introduced the concept of ‘ba’ to be specific to knowledge creation in order to include these concept-specific items. According to him, ‘ba’ can be thought of as a shared space for emerging relationships. This space can be physical (e.g an office), virtual (email, teleconference), mental (shared experiences, ideas) or any combination of them. What differentiates ‘ba’ from ordinary human interaction is the concept of knowledge creation. According to Nonaka et al (2000), ‘ba’ provides a platform for advancing individual and collective knowledge. Knowledge is embedded in ‘ba ‘where it is then acquired through one’s own experience or reflections on the experience of others (Nonaka et al. 2000). An environment is created, whether physical or virtual, that lends itself to the creation and sharing of knowledge. It can emerge in individuals as well as in teams and is an existential place where participants share their contexts and create new meanings through interactions (Nonaka & Toyama, 2003).

Participants of ba bring in their own contexts and through interactions with others and the environment, the contexts of ‘ba’, participants and the environment, change. A good ‘ba’ needs participants with multiple contexts and yet a shared context is necessary for a ‘ba’ to exist (Nonaka et al, 2000). It sets a boundary for interactions among individuals and yet the boundary is open. It is not bound to a certain space or time (Nonaka and Toyama, 2003).

When participating in a ‘ba’, it is important that these individuals share time and space through their direct experience.

As mentioned before a good ‘ba’ can provide a platform for advancing individual and/or collective knowledge ( Nonaka et al, 2000).

A TMS can be seen as a combination of knowledge possessed by individuals and focuses on the utilization of expertise (Hollingshead, 2000; Lewis, 2003; Wegner, 1986).

This expertise could be gathered by the retrieval function of the TMS, creating a ‘ba’, where during interaction, new insights and new knowledge can be developed and in turn, could enhance creativity.

An originationg ‘ba’, a dialoguing ‘ba’, a systemizing ‘ba’ and an exercising ‘ba’ support a particular knowledge conversion process and there by ‘ba’ speeds up the process of knowledge creation:

2.4.1 Originating ‘ba’

An originating ‘ba’ takes place in a world where individuals share feelings, emotions, experiences and mental models. An individual sympathizes or further empathizes with others, removing the barriers between the self and others. It is the primary ‘ba’ from which the knowledge creation process begins

Importance of Brands and Branding

Abstract

Repetitive failures cost companies millions of dollars in redesign costs, liabilities, and transaction costs. However, by far the most serious cost of these failures is the lost business that results from customer defection. For service companies, the task of providing error-free services is even more challenging because their intangible nature renders subjective perceptions of quality. Equally troublesome is the uncontrollable element of customer participation in the service process because production and consumption occur as a simultaneous process. Despite these challenges however, service quality and customer satisfaction are closely related constructs. When service providers continuously strive to develop error-free processes, customer satisfaction is sure to follow.

Chapter 1: Introduction

Many marketers are rethinking their branding because competitive pressures, new channels, and changing customer needs have eroded their brands’ positions of strength. However, increased marketing expenditures to reposition brands often fail to produce any improvements in either overall image or market share. Experience has shown that companies should focus on achievable rather than aspirational positioning, and that three steps can help ensure success:

1. Ensure relevance to a customer’s frame of reference.

  • Be fully aware of the brand’s “frame of reference” so that a repositioning strategy will resonate with customers.
  • Look at a combination of customers’ attitudes and the situations in which the brand is used to obtain the most powerful customer insights.

2. Secure the customer’s “permission” for the positioning.

  • Recognize that permission amounts to a reasonable and logical extension of the brand in the customer’s eyes.
  • Leverage a brand’s unique emotional benefits to carry customers from their current brand perception to the intended one.

3. Deliver on the brand’s new promise.

  • Identify the pathway of performance “signals” that will convince customers of the new brand positioning.
  • Develop product/service programs to ensure consistent performance on these signals.
  • Track and assess performance against customer signals prior to launching the new positioning.
  • Adopt an “interim positioning” to establish brand credibility and performance.

An array of factors is requiring marketers today to rethink their brand positioning. Changing customer needs are often eroding the brand’s established position. At the same time, increasing competitive pressures created by new entrants and product innovations, and the proliferation of new channels and promotional campaigns, are driving marketers back to the drawing board.

Many CEOs and CMOs, however, find themselves displeased with the results of their repositioning efforts. Increased marketing expenditures devoted to repositioning brands in the minds of consumers often fail to produce any improvements in either overall image or market share. Why do these well-intentioned efforts turn into marketing failures? While there are many causes, companies often fail to focus on achievable brand positioning rather than branding in service sector. Too often, their efforts target an ambitious goal that outstrips the actual ability of the brand to deliver on what it has promised to customers. Or the goal is too far from customers’ current brand perception to be a realistic brand objective. For example:

  • In the late 1 980s Oldsmobile wanted to revitalize its brand and gear it to a younger audience. Thus marketers at General Motors launched a creative campaign around the tagline, “Not your father’s Oldsmobile,” highlighting the car’s improved styling and new features. But for many younger consumers, this was too much of a stretch for the brand. The product modifications did not go far enough to meet the needs and expectations of the new customer set they were targeting. As a result, Oldsmobile recognized the need to shift its campaign. Eventually, GM closed its Oldsmobile division.
  • More recently, United Airlines’ Rising campaign attempted to position the brand as the most passenger-centric airline, with a clear understanding of customer problems and the solutions needed to fix them. The campaign had the effect of raising expectations, which were quickly deflated, however, by the brand’s inability to deliver against the promises made as part of its bold new positioning platform. Consequently, United was forced to change its central brand message — no longer emphasizing Rising.
  • Many high-tech businesses have recently repositioned themselves as e-business brands. However little effort was made by these brands to clearly differentiate themselves from one another despite the millions of dollars spent on elaborate marketing programs. The net effect, according to their research, has been to sow confusion in the minds of customers, rather than to forge strong brand identities.

These examples — and most marketers can cite many others — underscore the imperative to pursue a brand positioning that is eminently achievable, not just attractive. Based on our experience, three steps can help ensure that they make this distinction: 1) ensuring relevance to a customer’s frame of reference; 2) securing the customer’s “permission” for the positioning; and 3) making sure that the brand delivers on its promise.

Be Relevant to the Customer’s Frame of Reference:

When repositioning a brand, it’s essential for marketers to capture not just the emotional and physical needs of the customer but the dynamics of the situation in which those needs occur. We refer to this as the customer’s “frame of reference.” For example, while isotonic beverages like Gatorade and Powerade are thirst-quenching drinks, consumers tend to think of them in the broader context of sports, exercise, and physical activity. Importantly, the frame of reference sets the parameters for customers’ consideration set — the brands they will choose from. Indeed, most customers have a very specific definition of what the brand is and what it can be relative to their frame of reference. Repositioning a brand too far from this frame of reference creates customer confusion that makes a positioning unsuccessful.

Attempting to brand Gatorade, for example, within a social, lighthearted context would probably be stretching the brand too far from the current sports/physical activity frame of reference. Similarly, a communications company known for data services for business customers would likely be positioning the brand too far outside of the customer’s frame of reference if it suddenly tried to launch a “friends-and-family” calling plan. Being fully aware of the frame of reference for a brand can help ensure that its repositioning strategy will resonate with customers. But the frame of reference is usually a combination of both customers’ attitudes and the situations in which the brand is used. As a result, we typically find the most powerful customer insights and segmentation come from looking at a combination of these factors

  • In some categories, customers’ broader attitudes are the dominant factor. How customers think about pet-related brands, for example, can be seen in the context of how they treat their own pets — whether they view them as family members, best friends/companions, or in a less personal way. If customers view pets as family members, the optimal message for the brand will appeal to such human qualities as nurturing and pampering. This “family member” orientation or frame of reference may help support a brand extension to a full range of pet services, such as grooming and accessories.
  • Other customer needs are not as consistent, but better understood within the context of specific situations or sub-categories. In the field of airline travel, for example, the customer’s frame of reference may be a function of the type of trip they are taking. The customer who is used to traveling within the U.S. in cramped coach-class conditions, for example, will have a much different set of needs and expectations than the traveler who is used to flying to international destinations with all the comforts of first-class service.
  • As a result, in most instances the frame of reference is built upon a combination of both of the above attitudinal and situational forces. For example, while consumers may generally have a health-conscious attitude about the foods they eat, on certain “special” occasions they may allow themselves to become more indulgent, creating what we call a “need state.”

A strong brand identity can also help marketers secure the desired permission from consumers. Because Victoria’s Secret owns or is associated with the notion of intimate moments, for example, it would be easier for that brand to get permission to introduce a new line of lingerie or perfume with a sensual connotation than it would be to launch a line of jeans or handbags.

In repositioning, marketers must embrace the idea that they are brand “stewards,” while customers define their relationship with the brand and determine the basis for the relationship. A steward must spend more time deeply understanding what customers really think about the brand and where potential “bridges” to growth and new branding exist. For example, Smuckers could leverage the “wholesome goodness” their loyal customers attribute to them instead of solely focusing on themselves as fruit processors.

Marketers should not attempt to cover the waterfront here, but instead focus on the relevant interrelated “hot buttons” that will clearly convey the message. For example, in the case of a technology brand positioning itself as “humanizing technology for everyday people,” the strongest set of pathways to the positioning came from product signals such as customized hardware and specific application platforms (e.g., games, household management) rather than from equipment with the latest features and innovative design. The pathway modeling also indicated the strong signal value of the brand’s customer service representatives having an understanding of an individual customer’s needs. This important service signal led to the broader customer perception of the brand as caring — an important personality signal for the brand to deliver on its positioning. Additionally, the marketer learned that having technicians follow through with customers to issue resolution was a critical service signal that led to the broader personality signal of the brand being professional — another key for the brand to live up to its positioning. With these insights, the marketer could allocate resources accordingly, ensuring that the more important signals were being appropriately supported.

  • Develop necessary product/service programs to ensure consistent performance on these signals to the customer. For example, if the brand positioning is built around superior customer satisfaction, but frontline sales people are measured on revenue rather than satisfaction, it is unlikely that consistent performance will be achieved. So, if airline gate agents are the first and most important contact point for customers, they should be empowered to solve customers’ issues instead of redirecting them to customer service personnel. In the technology brand example, given the importance of the customer service representatives and service technicians, there should be a greater emphasis on the quality of the service delivered rather than on the number of customers that can be serviced over a given time period.
  • Make sure approaches are in place to track and assess your performance against these customer signals prior to the formal launching of the new positioning. Applying rigorous quality assurance procedures to key elements of the new brand experience will often ensure that customers are not disappointed, or fail to have their expectations met. Current data-collection methods allow for rapid response and can be leveraged to determine whether the launch programs are having their desired effect on brand perceptions.
  • Due to the complexities of brand positioning, many marketers are correctly choosing to move to an “interim positioning.” This interim positioning is designed to establish brand credibility and performance on the road to fully achieving the longer-term aspirational positioning. Such a positioning focuses on those aspects of the brand on which the organization is currently able to deliver. Interim positioning is often essential when a brand stakes out new territory considered “up market,” addresses an important or longstanding deficiency, or is attempting to redefine its competitive set. As the brand evolves (based on customers’ changing perceptions), additional components of the new platform can be put into place and confidently communicated to consumers. Target Stores successfully employed an interim positioning as it evolved the brand up market from a position as a discount retailer of national brands to a contemporary “urban chic” retail brand providing good value. The interim positioning emphasized value without sacrificing style and involved specific merchandising efforts such as stylized color blocking and associations with name designers (e.g., Frank Gehry). As the brand evolved to its current positioning, it further emphasized the “designer” theme in its advertising, often having models wearing various house wares as high fashion.

By focusing on achievable instead of aspirational brand positioning, companies can help ensure meaningful market share results while enhancing their brand image. This requires, however that the new brand position fits comfortably within the customer’s frame of reference, and that it not attempt to overreach. Marketers must also secure the customer’s permission to extend the brand by building a bridge of relevant benefits to carry customers from the current to the intended brand position. Implementing the performance delivery systems to ensure the brand is able to live up to its new promise is the final critical step in building and executing a successful brand positioning program.

Chapter 2: Literature Review
2.1 Branding: Definition and benefits

Literature gives several definitions of the term brand. The common themes are that a brand is more than just a combination of a name, a design, a symbol or other features that differentiate a good or a service from others. It is a unique set of tangible and intangible added values that are perceived and valued by the customer. In addition a brand is said to have personality, an emotional bond to the customer that grows out of the perceived characteristics.

These certain features of a brand grow out of a complex set of added values that can comprise of history and tradition, additional services, marketing messages, quality, popularity of the product amongst a certain group of users (status) and others. These basis’s of a brand perception prove that a strong brand can not be established over night The development of a brand takes time, strong financial marketing muscle and good marketing skills such as

  • Insight into customer needs,
  • Ability to offer products or services that meet those needs,
  • Creativity to produce exiting and compelling advertising,
  • Ability to communicate differentiation in a way that customers understand and that motivates them.

Without this process they do not have a brand but only a name and a sign for a product. Brands have benefits for both, the brand owners as sellers and the customers:

Benefits of a brand for

Sellers

Customers

  • Identifies the companies products, makes repeat purchases easier
  • Facilitates promotion efforts
  • Fosters brand loyalty – stabilises market share
  • Allows to charge premium prices and thus to get better margins
  • Allows to extend the brand to new products, new markets and to new geographic areas
  • Can communicate directly with the customer, reach over the shoulder of the retailer
  • More leverage with middlemen
  • Is more resistant to price competition
  • Can have a long life
  • Is more forgiving of mistakes
  • Helps identify products
  • Helps evaluate the quality of a product
  • Helps to reduce perceived risk in buying, provides assurance of quality, reliability etc.
  • Is dependable (consistent in quality)
  • May offer psychological reward (status symbol)
  • “rout map” through a range of alternatives
  • Saves customer time
  • Is easier to process mentally

With this potential a brand can offer an important competitive advantage for a seller who has decided for a differentiation strategy. Even in markets with many similar products or services a brand can provide some sort of uniqueness to a certain product. Depending from the strength of a brand the branded product thus can be positioned towards a more monopolistic situation.

With all these characteristics a brand is important in an organisations marketing mix. Although it is basically a certain feature of the category “product”, it influences every component of the marketing mix:

  • The product gets a higher value in the perception of the customers.
  • This influences the pricing policy in the way that often a premium can be charged.
  • The promotional strategy and mix will be different because it is more focused on the brand than on the individual product. For instance the introduction of a new product under a well established umbrella brand requires a very different promotion campaign than the introduction of a new brand or an unbranded product.

The decision for the place and the marketing channel is influenced because a branded product with a higher perceived value might be placed in an environment that is well related to the brands personality, e.g. gourmet shop vs. food department in a supermarket.

2.2 Branding strategies:

Besides the more general decision for the use of brands the decision for the branding strategies is important. There are several aspects to be considered:

  • Ownership of brands
  • Structure of brand systems

Regarding the ownership, Dibb (1997) and Kotler (1999) differentiate between five categories:

These decisions need to be taken carefully. They offer not only large opportunities but also various risks:

A company which has strong manufacturer brands may decide to sell the same or similar products to retailers for use as their own label brands. If consumers become aware of this they might change their perception of the manufacturer brand:

  • “They get the same product for a lower price under my retailers brand.” or
  • “They sell the same thing under another name very cheap. This product is not exclusive anymore. I go for another brand then.”

Extensive permissions for the licensed use of a strong brand for other products can destroy the value of the brand. Pierre Cardin has lost lots of its luxury appeal since various goods with this name can be found in every department store. The structure of brand systems describes how an organisations products and brands are related. Dibb (1997) distinguishes between:

2.3 Branding for service industries:

2.3.1 Reason for branding services:

Although the principles for branding of goods and services are generally the same there occur some differences. These arise from the different natures of both categories. The main differences that influence branding policies are that services

  • Have a changing level of quality,
  • The consumer has to become involved in the consumption of a service actively,
  • They are intangible and not storable.

When a brand in general gives the consumer more confidence in his choice this is even more important for services. Their quality and other features are more difficult to asses. Because of their intangibility and complexity it is harder for the customer to distinguish between the offers from the wide range of service companies are working in the market place.

This especially applies to the market of accounting, auditing and consulting where consolidation and globalisation increase competition. In an FT-article about branding accounting services (Kelly 1998) a branding expert states that “more than 70 % of the Fortune 500 companies …said branding is increasingly important in helping them to choose where to get a service. They want to be able to tell who is good at what.”

2.3.2 Drivers for the use of branding in the accounting/consulting industry with a focus on the Big Five (former Big Six) firms:

The Big Five accounting firms have a long history up to 75 to 100 years. These firms have developed from smaller entities through co-operations and mergers. Often new products and new markets have been developed by “buying in”, by buying the expertise and the access in the form of other firms. For many small and medium accounting and auditing firms it is attractive to join the association (in most cases) of one of the large players for the following reasons:

The form of an association with independent member firms allows to retain a level of individuality – although in some cases this is not long-lasting. The membership in an large powerful firm gives a competitive advantage (reputation, access to knowledge, access to new markets, higher market share, cost savings through sharing resources, e.g. for training and recruitment etc.).

Partners of these smaller firms are often offered to become partners in the large firm.

For a long time the industry did not put much effort in the development of brands.

The tradition and long lasting reputation of the Big Five itself gave their names a considerable brand value. For quite a long time this was fairly enough for their purposes. In Kelly’s (1998) article a professional firms branding expert states that for many years the accountancy firms hid behind the “convenient parapet” of the Big Six brand label. In the audit market most shareholders were happy to have any audit firm as long as it was from the Big Six.Other factors were legal limitations for advertising. Accounting firms were first allowed to advertise in 1984. That means that marketing and communications focused mainly on activities like excellent work and the power of word of mouth, job advertisements (as the only allowed advertisements they were used as a means to present the company), speaking at conferences, publishing articles in professional journals, co-operating with universities and business schools and so on. Accounting firms saw themselves as a conservative industry with discretion as one of their services. In their minds this didn’t go together with an aggressive marketing campaign.In the last years the industry has seen some developments that required new strategies:

  • Globalisation: A global client needs a global auditor because companies are legally required to prepare consolidated financial statements including all subsidies around the world. This is much easier if you have all subsidies audited by the same firm. In addition global clients have a high need for specialised consulting. They often prefer a consultant that is as global as they are to get more expertise and consistency.
  • Stagnation in the core business: The traditional auditing business does not show high growth rates. An individual firms growth can mainly be achieved at the expense of competitors.
  • Growth in consulting services: On the contrary to the auditing business there is an enormous growth for consulting services. The accounting firms have traditionally done some consulting and now they developed these activities aggressively. This had two results:
  • A growing variety of services offered – these new products had to be communicated to existing and potential clients Accounting firms came into direct competition with the traditional consulting firms which had their own brands and reputation
  • Need for qualified people: With the development of new products/services all firms needed much more highly qualified people. Recruitment became an important issue. (For example: The German member firm of PricewaterhouseCoopers took on about 1000 new employees in 1998, the first year after the merger.) This led to a competition to attract the best university students.

All these factors together increased competition amongst the Big Five. For this industry excellent quality is not a means to get a competitive advantage, it is an important requirement for any success at all. A large variety of services is important; but the customer will perceive it only in the moment he needs a certain service.

In this situation the Big Five did not manage to differentiate themselves successfully from competition. A survey conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers during the merger process revealed that “the business community and the general public did not – and do not – perceive any compelling differences between and among either the Big Six or the Big Five. Not only did all firms appear to have similar defining qualities, they were also not sending any consistent messages about their organisations to external audiences.”Here a strong brand with a personality and a clear message can be a valuable means for differentiation and thus for gaining a competitive advantage. By now we can say that the Big Five have become aware of this. Now they invest heavily to reposition themselves and to develop their good names to real power brands.

2.4 Benefits of branding:

Branding is the process of creating distinctive and durable perceptions in the minds of consumers. A brand is a persistent, unique business identity intertwined with associations of personality, quality, origin, liking and more. Here’s why the effort to brand their company or their self pays off.

· Memorability: A brand serves as a convenient container for a reputation and good will. It’s hard for customers to go back to “that whats its name store” or to refer business to “the plumber from the Yellow Pages.” In addition to an effective company name, it helps when people have material reminders reinforcing the identity of companies they will want to do repeat business with: refrigerator magnets, tote bags, date books, coasters, key rings, first aid kits, etc. Memorability can come from using and sticking with an unusual color combination (FedEx’s purple and orange), distinctive behavior (the gas station whose attendants literally run to clean your windshield), or with an individual, even a style of clothing (Author Tom Wolfe’s white suits). Develop their own identifiers and nail them to their company name in the minds of their public.

· Loyalty: When people have a positive experience with a memorable brand, they’re more likely to buy that product or service again than competing brands. People who closely bond with a brand identity are not only more likely to repurchase what they bought, but also to buy related items of the same brand, to recommend the brand to others and to resist the lure of a competitor’s price cut. The brand identity helps to create and to anchor such loyalty. Consider the legions of car owners who travel up to 2,000 miles at their own expense to attend a Saturn celebration at the company’s plant in Spring Hill, Tennessee. That’s loyalty. And supposedly, more people have the motorcycle brand “Harley-Davidson” tattooed on their body than any other brand name. That’s out-of-this-world loyalty.

· Familiarity. Branding has a big effect on non-customers too. Psychologists have shown that familiarity induces liking. Consequently, people who have never done business with you but have encountered their company identity sufficient times may become willing to recommend them even when they have no personal knowledge of their products or services. Seeing their ads on local buses, having their pen on their desk, reading about them in the Hometown News, they spread the word for them when a friend or colleague asks if they know a ____ and that’s what they do.

· Premium image, premium price: Branding can lift what they sell out of the realm of a commodity, so that instead of dealing with price-shoppers they have buyers eager to pay more for their goods than for those of competitors. Think of some people’s willingness to buy the currently “in” brand of bottled water, versus toting along an unlabeled bottle of the same stuff filled from the office water cooler.The distinctive value inherent in a brand can even lead people to dismiss evidence they would normally use to make buying decisions. I once saw one middle-aged Cambridge, Massachusetts, intellectual argue to several colleagues that Dunkin’ Donuts’ coffee tastes better than Starbucks’. So contradictory was this claim to the two companies’ reputations for this demographic group that the colleagues refused to put the matter to a taste test.

· Extensions: With a well-established brand, they can spread the respect they will earn to a related new product, service or location and more easily win acceptance of the newcomer. For instance, when a winery with a good reputation starts up regional winery tours, and then adds foreign ones, each business introduction benefits from the positive perceptions already in place.

· Greater company equity: Making their company into a brand usually means that they can get more money for the company when they decide to sell it. A Coca-Cola executive once said that if all the company’s facilities and inventory vanished all around the world, he could walk into any bank and take out a loan based only on the right to the Coca-Cola name and formula.

· Lower marketing expenses: Although they must invest money to create a brand, once it’s created they can maintain it without having to tell the whole story about the brand every time they market it. For instance, a jingle people in their area have heard a zillion times continues to promote the company when it’s played without any words.

· For consumers, less risk: When someone feels under pressure to make a wise decision, he or she tends to choose the brand-name supplier over the no-name one. As the saying goes, “They’ll never be fired for buying IBM.” By building a brand, they fatten their bottom line.

2.5 Brand structures for services industries:

As for services, literature suggests to use the companies name – a so called corporate brand – as the overall family brand for all the services offered. Murphy (1990) calls this the “monolithic approach”. He argues that especially for companies which offer an enormous array of services (e.g. consultants, banks) corporate names must be used to deliver more generalised benefits of quality, value and integrity. de Chernatony (1996) comes to the conclusion that corporate brands are a crucial means to help make the service offering more tangible in consumers minds and can enhance consumers perceptions and trust in the range of services provided by the company.

One disadvantage of corporate brands – little opportunity for developing second or sub-brands for differentiated product lines- applies more to branded products. However Murphy (1990) states that many companies have chosen an approach of “local autonomy but group-wide coherence” as a system whereby individual divisions and products are largely free-standing but mention is made in all literature and on all stationery and products that “company A is member of the XYZ group”. This approach is very common amongst the Big Five accounting and auditing firms. It allows their national member firms, to exploit the groups brand name and their own (brand) name at the same time. Many member firms that had joined the global firms have lon

Analysis of Product Packaging Design

ABSTRACT

1 Introduction

Product design and specifically product shape and ‘looks’ have long been identified as factors that may contribute to product value and new product success. Design of products evokes both cognitive and affective responses in the mind of the observers and this can be used to tailor a more attractive product proposition.

While a lot of excellent research has been conducted on the positive effect that industrial design can have on the perceptions of customers about the product functionality, embedding issues like utility, safety and comfort, the importance of the perceived value by a customer on judgements about product elegance and social significance have not been extensively studied until recently. reference

In this thesis I am trying to test whether Yes please soup pot design not only communicates to the potential customer a series of qualitative attributes about its content, i.e. quality and healthiness, but also triggers positive emotional responses on the perceived beauty and difference with similar products and that can be leveraged by the company to command a price premium

2        NEW PRODUCT DEVELOPMENT AND PRODUCT DESIGN

New product development processes are the subset of standardized procedures that companies use to manage the new product project phases that lead to the launch of new products in the market.

The objective of these procedures is to implement a systematized approach to ensure the potential of new projects based on their financial and development feasibility while maximizing the value of new products as perceived by its target customers.

2.1        What is industrial design

Industrial design is the set of activities within new product development processes that deal with optimizing the functionality and appearance of a product to maximize its value for both consumer and manufacturer (1).

The ultimate objective of a product design is thus to align the set of attributes embedded within the product with the target customer preferences and to implement them in a way that they are actually perceived and valued by them. In order to achieve a successful design and implementation, companies engage in direct market research to elicit the target customer segment implicit and explicit needs (‘the voice of the customer’) and align those with product attributes, using techniques such as Quality Function Deployment (QFD) which systematically links the needs the product must satisfy with technical specifications while also prioritizing them based on the level of importance to customers.

At the same time, the identification of the customer segment preferences and the mapping of those within a perceptual map, comparing how well different products in the market fulfill the identified needs, allow for the design of specific product propositions that no other product does and thus achieving a unique positioning and successful product differentiation.

The dimension of product design has been recognized by several authors (Cooper, Trueman) as being critical to the ultimate success of the launch of new products.

The focus of design development is centered around the efficient implementation of the product features, ergonomics and quality form to maximize its utility to users, while at the same time embedding it with a pleasant appearance that is able to communicate positive attributes that contribute to the ultimate value proposition. (3) (4)

Trueman: “Design has the facility to improve product reliability and quality standards thereby raising the perceived value of goods and services in the eyes of the customer, allowing companies to increase profit margins”

As Trueman estates (6), A value proposition must successfully integrate a product within its own environment by combining and merging coherently the “different attributes, aesthetics, price and quality so that they are aligned similarly and reinforce each other”.

Although mistaken by artists that only worry about the visual appearece of a product, or styling, successful industrial designers are able dig into such fields as engineering, Materials science, manufacturing, and marketing to embed new products with a set of attributes directly influencing new product success in the market.(2) (3) (4) (5) (6). Ultimately, the design of an object is “the specific configuration of elements, materials and components that give its particular attributes of function, shape etc. and determine how it is to be made and used”. (13)

By embedding the design dimension into the processes, companies ensure that the final value proposition is increased as it contributes to the perceived value by the customer. A successful design increase the perceived quality of a product, ensures that is aligned with market and regulatory standards and thus increase the odds to satisfy customer expectations.

A consistent Design strategy in new product development processes also contributes to build a product and company image and helps to pull together the dimensions of company identity with branding and promotion (Trueman).

Also, by taking the design dimensions early on the NPD projects, companies can reduce the final time to market and product costs by simplifying the manufacturing processes and reduce the final costs of fabrication.

2.2        The contribution of Industrial design in the final product value proposition

There are many design attributes that can be embedded into new products, roughly separated within ergonomics and aesthetics, being the former more related to the experience of using the product, while the latter is focused into the experience of seeing the product. Aestethics, embedding all product parameters that determine the way the product look, are a an essential element of the purchasing process since customers base their preference on products by the subjective perceptions elicited by the product on the potential benefits it can provide.(7)

In that line, the Lens model first introduced by Brunswick (?), states that the potential customer makes a mental bundle of the information it receives about the product and from there triggers a set of perceptions that will ultimately lead to a set of preferences and choices.

The ways a specific design can lead to a positive perception and thus to a choice of preference vary and are entangled with other sources of information the customer receives and which align the propostion to the customer already decided preferences.

The perceptions that a product can evoke are immediately related to past information received and allow the person for example to relate it to a certain corporate and brand identity, a process that many companies have followed by implementing a sustained design strategy on their products. Brand identity allows to ultimately link the products observed to perceptions on company values and overall level of attributes of the products and has been used as means of effective product differentiation. (9) (10).

In different industries, companies tend to emphasize different attributes in their communication to be aligned with their specific company positioning and customers most importance preferences, like tastiness and safety in the food industry and reliability and environment friendliness in the car industry.

The physical form of a product has been researched to have an important impact in the way customers judge it and has ultimately a strong correlation effect with the final product success in the market ().

As Bloch (10) states “the physical form or design of a product is an unquestioned determinant of its marketplace success. A good design attracts consumers to a product, communicates to them, and adds value to the product by increasing the quality of the usage experiences associated with it.”

2.3        Which financial benefits can it provide

Companies with an effective industrial design strategy achieve better perfoming products in the market in terms of several financial indicators as return on assets, return on sales and higher profitability, which can be linked to both the design differentiation factor as stated previously by Porter in the famous book Competitve strategy (1980) and to reduced costs due to more efficient use of materials and manufacturing processes. (14)

Also, the study of Roy (13) in 1993 on 221 small and medium sized UK manufacturers which received a government subsidy to promote the active use of industrial design in the development of new or improved products showed that 60% of all projects and 90% of the implemented ones were commercially successful and profitable with payback periods averaging under 15months, which show that the effective strategic approach to include design in new product development processes can be implemented in firms of different sizes.

Bloch in his research also collected previous studies that linked new product financial success factors with the inclusion of design as an inherent part of their NPD processes. He identified in a survey of senior marketing managers that, design was mentioned as “the most important determinant of new product performatice by 60% of respondents” by ” only 17% considered Price most important” . Also and based on the work of cooper on the analysis of the performance of 203 new products identified that product design was the most important determinant of sales success . Most interestingly for the case of Yes Please foods product, which as will be explained later chose specifically a designer for the pot based on his previous award winning record, Some research has identified that the receipt of design awards is positively associated with profit margins above average and sales growth (Goodrich 1994; Roy 1994).

3.        The purchasing process and the visual effect of a product design

3.1        XXXXXXXXXXXXX

The ultimate act of purchasing occurs as a result of a complex mental process where the information received is analyzed and weighted as per to measure to which extend the product satisfies the needs of the customer.

A general categorization of customer needs has been frequently compared with the Maslow hierarchy of needs which states that once most basic requirements have been satisfied by a product, the emphasis on a customer shifts to satisfy other more intangible needs related to symbolic and aesthetic attributes.

As a result of this the purchasing process is triggered by the fulfillment of the requirements for the intended use of the product but also by the satisfaction of more intangible needs like status, elegance or social significance.

In order to understand the ultimate behavioral response of a customer triggered by the visual appearance of a product it is critical to assess the cognitive and emotional processes that result from the act of observing the item under evaluation.

The cognitive processes take place when a customer uses his visual senses to observe the product and perceives certain information which mentally organizes to make some judgments about its attributes and which are influenced by previous visual references or similar product stereotypes, which suggest familiar usages of the product and ultimately help the observer to interpret the signals received.

It has been described a number of different approaches on how to categorize the judgments that a customer does based on the perception of a product observation. Crilly (?) has summarized all previous approaches and identifies a total of three main categories of cognitive responses to product appearance: Aesthetic, Semantic and Symbolic.

From those three, the semantic interpretation, the mental inferences that an observer does to judge whether a product is capable of performing the tasks for what is intended for, is the only processes where the tangible attributes of the product are assessed. During this process the practical qualities of a product like function, performance and efficiency are analyzed and mentally compared with other references to judge the utility a product will offer to the observer. In this category I include the information that is gathered by the customer when obtaining information from reading the label and which is directly processed to identify the physical attributes of the product. The emotional responses following this cognitive process are then aligned to assess the instrumental utility of the product which ultimately lead to satisfaction, when fulfilling the expected requirements, and dissatisfaction when the product is not fulfilling them.

The two other described cognitive processes are used to identify intangible attributes of the product that may or may not be perceived as valuable for the customer depending on a number of different factors, like current ‘positioning’ within the Maslow hierarchy of needs, consumer’s cultural context and personal characteristics.

The symbolic association is the cognitive response that attaches to the product some socially determined symbolic meaning. During this process, as series of values are realized to be attached to the product and assumes that others must also associate them with it. As Crilly states ‘This culturally agreed meaning will allow the customer project a desirable image to others, express social status or communicate its personal characteristics through it’. Examples of intangible values that can be associated to the product through symbolic meaning are exclusivity as the identification with certain economic status and environmentally consciousness.

Finally the aesthetic impression comprises all cognitive responses that are directed towards a perceived judgment of elegance and beautifulness. Even if still there is no unanimous consensus on what comprises beautiful objects, the perception of aesthetic attraction triggers positive emotional thoughts on the customer and contribute to attaching value to the product observed.

3.2        The Aesthetics Dimension

As researched by several authors (?) the definition of what makes an item beautiful or aesthetically pleasant is not conclusive.

It has been described though that cultural and social forces have an influence in the preferences for specific forms. Specifically, it has been described that a specific culture values and preferences may influence the acceptance of a particular style. Also seems to be proven that cultural norms may overwhelm an individual inner preferences and help shape its perceptions towards the acceptance of a specific design form. (blaich, Bloch)

Thus, and although cross cultural differences stay in the way of having an unified view of what can be considered as aesthetically pleasant, the current era of advanced information technology is working towards unifying the concepts that influence the perceptions of the soft values within a product design and thus working towards a more globalized and uniform set of criteria.

The cognitive processes described triggered upon the observation of a product lead to a series of emotional responses that will ultimately lead to the final decision on the purchasing process, being the most important the attraction or disgust towards the aesthetics, the satisfaction or dissatisfaction towards the fulfillment by the product of instrumental requirements for its use, the surprise or indifference based on the perceived product novelty and the admiration or indignation towards social significance.

4.        DESIGN IN THE FOOD INDUSTRY

In the food industry, Tauber (8), collected through extensive market studies an exhaustive set of problems related to food products. By doing so, he was trying to identify potential opportunities for new products while also providing with a thorough analysis of the basic needs to be fulfilled by this kind of products. From that list it can be identified a series of attributes that the product under study is fulfilling and thus achieving a specific positioning. Some of them, like low calorie content, convenience of transport and preparation and adequacy of the serving size are efficiently communicated through the information contained in the label. Others like healthy, tasty, and high quality can only be perceived by the customer through the design of the pot and label and by some previous information it might have received.

Moreover, as Berkowitz researched, the shapes and images that have a more natural looking are associated with products that are fresher, taste better and have a better texture, and are ultimately more preferred by customers. At the same time, he found that aesthetic appealingness of the product, defined by bloch (10) as ” the ability to evoke positive beliefs, positive emotions and sympathetic with consumer’s aesthetic tastes”, and by Crilly (11) as “the sensation that results from the perception of attractiveness (or unattractiveness) in products” was not of any specific interest to food products customers.

5.        The Yes Please! Foods Company, products and market

The trigger for the writing of this thesis has been evaluation of the influence that the design of the Yes Please! Foods soup product packaging may be having in its market performance. Yes Please Foods is Germany based company that entered the chilled organic convenience food German market in 2007. Although belonging to the generally mature food industry, both the organic and convenience sub segments have been growing at an average rate of 12% in the period 2003-2008 in Germany (15). Yes please foods can be considered to be positioned in the Premium priced range of offers within the segment as its Price its on average 33% more expensive than that of the competitors. The company started its operations in the Berlin area and has been enjoying a high growth rate in volumes sold ever since (the actual numbers can not be disclosed in this paper as they are covered by a confidential disclosure agreement). The company is currently planning to expand its operations throughout Germany and is about to close its first round of external financing.

Based on the information provided by the company, it is know that the customer profile of this kind of products is that of mid to high educated people, working full time, with ‘above average income’ and health conscious. It is inferred from the information provided by the company that the product is intended to fulfill the need of high quality healthy food that can be prepared and ready to serve within a short period time frame. The motto of the company portrays this positioning of healthy convenient to prepare food for customers that do not want to spend time in the kitchen as “good food for busy people”

The design of the pot, as explained by the company owner and general manager, Gemma Michalski, was the central part of their strategy to build a company identity and resulted in one of the biggest expenditures incurred during the initial company launching. The design was commissioned to Willimas Myurray Hamm from London which used the artwork of Berlin based illustrator Martin Haake. As explained by Ms Michalski, they were specifically chosen to perform the design task because of their previous record of award winning product designs that resulted in highly successful products in the market. (16)

6.        Use of conjoint analysis to elicit the importance of attributes in the eyes of the costumers

The first part of the field study I am going to conduct has been designed to measure a the potential correlation between price and design in the final willingness to pay expressed by respondents. Also I shall use the results to mesure the relative importance of each, for the whole of respondents and for potential segments I shall identify within the sample of respondents.

The technique used, an empirical marketing research using conjoint analysis, was first introduced as an effective marketing tool during 1970’s and has been validated as an effective means to identify the most relevant features of product, its key design attributes, and the degree of importance that customers attach to them. (17) The usefulness of the tool is extended by the ability to sort the answers from respondents to some specific criteria which allow eliciting the kind of different features preferred by different segments of consumers within the same market.

At the heart of the technique, consumers are asked to rate as per their own preferences a number of different product prototypes that are embedding different features and levels of features. By doing so, the customer is making choices and trade-offs from those multi attribute alternatives based on the overall perceived utility or value of the product under evaluation. The statistical treatment of the data, using a multiple regression model, allows quantifying how much each of the single attributes is affecting the overall value of the entangled set of properties, as it is assumed that consumers have an implicit utility value for every single one of them.

The first part of the technique is normally a consumer attitude survey were the general attitudes of the consumer towards the product are collected. One of the main outcomes of this part of the research is to determine which features of the product are relevant for the consumers.

The aim of this first part is typically to find out why the products are purchased, which use they make of them and their attitudes toward them. Once the information is collected allows the design teams to elicit which features of the product seem to be more relevant for the customers and allows to potentially determine needs that still unresolved or problems existing with current products in the market. In this thesis I have overcome this phase since this part of the research is aimed at determining which physical features of the product are relevant, whether the focus of this thesis is aimed to the ‘soft’ values attached to physical appearance. Thus, by assuming that the current most important features of the product for the target customer segment are actually satisfied by all products in the study, I have been able to focus any significance preference in the actual aesthetic value of the product and its potential relationship with the price they would be willing to pay. In order to communicate to respondents that all products evaluated had exactly the same features and were only differing in design and price, the following statement was introducing the questionnaire:

‘The products you are going to see are all soup products. They contain just natural organic ingredients without any conservatives and must be kept in the fridge. The portions are all 500ml’

Generally, The second part of the conjoint process uses the information gathered to determine the whole set of attributes that define all of the existing products in a market and introduces new ones to test their acceptance by consumers. Also, different levels for each attribute are defined to obtain a meaningful representation of the different ranges within each attribute that are or could be available in the market.

In order for the research to be significant, prototypes having different combinations of levels of all attributes have to be created to be ranked in preference by consumers. Typically, and due to the large number of possible permutations of attributes that can be created, a smaller sample is chosen to facilitate the consumer research study. It has been shown that eliminating combinations through an experimental design called orthogonal arrays or through judgment (those that are not possible physically i.e. by cost or conceptually i.e. by design), has no significant effect on the final outcome of the study (18)

Since the research to be conducted for this thesis is aimed at identifying any preferred designs for a soup product and potentially monetary value attached to specific product appearances, I have chosen to study two sets of attributes, design comprised by the three levels, ‘picture of natural ingredient’, ‘artistic draw’ and ‘no draw’ and the attribute price, also with three different levels: ‘€ 1,99’, ‘€ 2,49 and ‘€ 2,99’. Due to the small number of total possible combinations (32), the empirical survey shall ask respondents to evaluate all possible combinations.

The rationale for choosing these type of designs has been based on previous literature on shape and images in food products (Berkowitz) and the need for the actual inclusion of the design of the Yes Please Food product to test its hypothesized perceived value on the design. The third design included ‘no draw’ has been arbitrarily selected hypothesizing it to be a representative sample of an unaesthetic design.

The three price level selected have been chosen on the basis of actual prices of products in the market for the ‘picture of natural ingredient’ (€2,49) and ‘artistic draw’ (€2,99) designs, while the third level price has been arbitrarily selected to represent a low price level within that attribute.

The third part of the procedure gathers a meaningful sample of the product consumers and asks them to rank the different prototypes (combinations of the different levels of the selected attributes) based on their preferences. The aim of this part is to gather the structure of consumer’s preferences for different product features. In this part is important to define the question to be asked properly so it collects the opinion on consumers about the perceived value they attach to each specific product proposition. In my research I have chosen the sentence ‘from 1-7 how likely would you be to buy this product at the stated price’.

One of the benefits of conjoint analysis is that it is able to achieve statistical significance on the results with a relative small sample of respondents. The aim of this research will be to achieve at least 33 respondents in order to be able to make some inferences about the direction of the proportional influence that design has in the final monetary value of the proposed prototype, being that either positive or negative.

One of the limitations of my study shall be that the random sample of respondents to the questionnaire shall only be validated as actual consumers of soup products by one of the questions in the demographic profile, ‘ do you like soup?’ that is embedding three possible answers: ‘ no’, ‘sometimes is ok’ and ‘love it’. It shall be assumed that a positive answer to this question (all possible answers but ‘no’) allow to make inferences about their potentiality to be consumers of the product. That limitation is affecting jus this part of the study were the research is trying to elucidate whether design has a relationship with willingness to pay.

For the second part where it will be researched the consumer’s perceptions about intangible attributes of the design, it will be assumed that cultural context and general profile of the respondents is similar to that of the consumers of fresh soups as explained before in the Yes Please Foods product and market chapter of this thesis.

A segmentation of the respondents by any kind of useful criteria like demographics, type of usage, attitude towards the products etc will also allow to identify the preferred attributes for each type of customer segment.

The final part is the statistical treatment of the results that tries to identify which attributes are preferred by consumers and which are considered to be of more relative importance to them, and thus to the final value of the product proposition.

7.        Experiment

7.1        Objectives

The objectives of the experiments executed were designed to validate and refute previous research about the influence that design have in the purchase decision making process and to elicit specific findings about the design of the soup product of the sponsor company Yes Please! Foods.

In the first experiment, the objective is to validate whether a series of qualitative attributes about the product can be inferred from the customer just by looking at the design, specifically the respondents are required to rate each of the three designs as per their perception on how they consider them to be ‘healthy, ‘fresh, ‘of high quality’, ‘different’ and ‘beautiful’.

One of the objectives of this part of the experiment is to validate the hypothesis that the design of the pot of the Yes Please! Foods soup product has is somehow original that can be clearly differentiated from that of the competitors and that is considered to be an aesthetically pleasant design.

Another objective of this part of the research is to validate previous research like that of Berkowitz (9), Bloch (10) and Trueman (6) which asserted that in mature markets, product form is one way to gain consumer notice and achieve a clear product differentiation.

By assessing the responses about the attributes quality, freshness and Healthiness, it is pursued to validate the research of Bloch (10) and Nusssbaum (?), which stated that exterior appearance of a product is an important channel to communicate information to consumers, that Product form allows to generate inferences regarding other product attributes. Also this experiment will help to validate the research from Berlkowtiz () which found that natural shapes displayed in the packaging of food products help consumers to make assumptions about the product as being more fresh healthy and of higher quality. Finally I intend to validate the research of Trueman (6) which found that products that are considered to have a good design (which I shall relate to the weight of the responses on the attribute ‘beautiful) are considered to be of superior quality, by checking whether products to be considered ‘beautiful’ on my research are also considered to be of ‘high quality’.

The inferences that I will try to make with the results of the second part of the research, a conjoint analysis of 9 different prototypes which result from the combination of three different design styles and three different sets of prices, will be dependent upon the results of the first part. If during the first experiment I am able to proof that some of the three designs are considered to be significantly more ‘beautiful’ than the others, I shall be able to validate with the results of the second experiment are aligned with the results found by Bloch. Kotler and Nussbaum when they found that given two identical products in terms of features and price, the one with the most beautiful design is preferred by respodents.

At the same time I shall try to validate whether a product considered to be more ‘beautiful’ can command a higher willingness to pay, which is stated in the survey designed as the likeliness to buy the shown product. If that is proven to be the case, I will try to identify the reasons why those customers would be willing to spend more in such product by relating it to their perceptions on the other attributes of the same product, either being the subset of attributes regarding product utility, (higher quality, more natural or more healthy) , the subset of aesthetic attributes (more beautiful, more different) or both.

Finally I shall use the results of the second experiment to validate the research of Berkowitz which found that products with natural shapes tend to be considered more natural, and healthy. I shall do this by specifically analyzing the results of one of the chosen designs which portrays a picture of a natural tomato on the label. Also I shall try to refute the findings of the same author which found in previous research that attractive designs where not of any specific interest to consumers in terms of aesthetic appeal.

7.2        Methodology

7.2.1        Sample

The survey will be send to all recipients of the address domain [email protected], for which I expect a random sample of respondents within the employees of ESMT and all recipients of address [email protected], for which I expect a random sample of ESMT MBA 2009 students I believe this sample shall be repre