At the end of the year, some design agencies like to take stock of their recent projects, sending out self-congratulatory newsletters lauding their work in order to thank their clients and, hopefully, net some new ones. But Jones Knowles Ritchie took an altogether different tack. Instead of publishing their own achievements, the London- and New York–based firm, for the second year in a row, collected the stories of 35 inspiring brands in an entertaining, fact-filled book titled Champions of Design.
Not that the project was completely devoid of self-interest. As the designers write in the introduction, publicizing the role good design plays for successful brands can only help design firms, JKR included: "The more marketing people who grow to love great design and value its contribution to their brands the easier our job will be if we are fortunate enough to work with them." Across all the featured brands, from Muji and Moleskine to Perrier and Pez, one can glean the following lessons, the designers add:
1. Design is not separate from the product, it is part of it. It should emerge so naturally from the brand that it feels and sounds right, like the voice of a friend. If design is simply bolted on or used as wrapping paper the cracks will show and the product inside won’t last very long.
2. People will pay a little more for something they want and a lot more for something they want very much. (Think of the last thing you wanted desperately and ask yourself what part its design played in its attraction.)
3. As each of our champions illustrates, design pays for itself many times over. Few other investments show such a great return.
You’ve heard this all before? Fair enough. But in researching the histories of its favorite brands, JKR stumbled across some little-known factoids that we found so gobstopping we had to share them. Click through the slideshow to see what we mean.
The entire book can be viewed for free here.