DMatters June 2020 Issue

International brands, big and small, private and public, have been reinventing themselves faster than ever to combat the coronavirus pandemic. They worked out strategies overnight to save lives, keep business afloat and fulfil customers’ lockdown-induced needs. From manufacturers to luxury brands to fashion houses, corporates have repurposed their production lines to make much-needed medical equipment, hand sanitisers and face masks. Some universities have opened up part of their online learning resources for free to help students cope with studying at home. A number of world-class opera houses stream their performances for free. Twitter and Facebook even turned working from home from a temporary measure to a permanent option for its employees. As economies are gradually reopening, brands have to keep adapting and innovating to usher themselves into the post Covid-19 world where normal will be redefined.

This unprecedented worldwide crisis upended many things we take for granted. All of a sudden, companies and organisations found their modi operandi did not work while their countries were confronting life-and-death problems. Those driven by design turned around the dreadful situation fast. Design thinking helps them think outside of the box systematically to come up with agile and creative solutions to keep their brands relevant. For example, 3M Company has teamed up with other companies to pivot manufacturing to provide medical supplies for front line healthcare workers. "More than ever before, fearless design leadership is crucial to re-design this world and make it a sustainable place where all people can live together in harmony, safe, healthy and happy. Designers, with their creativity, imagination and their people focused and collaborative mindset will be the protagonists and catalyst to connect all stakeholders to lead the way.” says Eric Quint, Chief Brand and Design Officer of 3M Company.

Designers, with their creativity, imagination and their people focused and collaborative mindset will be the protagonists and catalyst to connect all stakeholders to lead the way.

Eric Quint, Chief Brand and Design Officer of 3M Company  ©3M Company 

All of us have experienced how technology can help us maintain social distance while keeping our lives as normal as possible. From work to healthcare to entertainment, lockdowns have heralded changes in consumer behaviour and new digital needs technologists can only dream of. The digital future many experts envisioned seems to be drawing nearer in a flash. Design thinking guides us to drive digital transformation that put people at its heart. Royal College of Art’s Head of Service Design Clive Grinyer points out that as consumers move to digital solutions with an accelerating speed, the competition will get keener. “To truly differentiate and pull ahead there is an opportunity for digital experiences to innovate and go further to build confidence that solutions will fit customers’ needs, satisfy the job to be done and make customers happy when their purchases are delivered. This is just the start of digital online experience, there are huge opportunities for brilliant digital experiences that attract and retain customers.”

This is just the start of digital online experience, there are huge opportunities for brilliant digital experiences that attract and retain customers.

Clive Grinyer, world-leading service design consultant and Royal College of Art’s Head of Service Design 

Hong Kong Design Centre is also proactively shifting gears to pave way for the new normal. Our upcoming major event Knowledge of Design Week (KODW), to be held from 26 - 29 August, is turning various challenges into an opportunity to go digital. It extends the timely theme of ‘Designing Digital Futures’ to explore how digital transformation can illuminate the uncertain future: How can brands innovate and collaborate to brace themselves through unsure times? How can we use the ever-accelerating digital transformation to design better human experiences? How will the world’s largest work-from-home experiment bring about the next workplace revolution? What will healthcare look like in the post-coronavirus world?

“Design plays a vital role in shaping change across the business. Challenging conventions, creating true distinction and identifying opportunities or efficiencies are fundamental parts of the design process and valuable outputs in challenging times,” said Jonathan Cummings, President, Great China from Landor & FITCH, a brand and design consultancy.

Challenging conventions, creating true distinction and identifying opportunities or efficiencies are fundamental parts of the design process and valuable outputs in challenging times.

Jonathan Cummings, President, Great China of brand and design consultancy Landor & FITCH

Prof. Viveca Chan, Chairman and CEO of WE Marketing Group, expects post Covid-19 consumers to be more digital savvy and tech-empowered, “They would have higher expectations on brand value. Design thinking can help business transform from product-centric to people-centric, from sales-driven to culture-driven, and reassess the authenticity of their brand purposes and their business models.”

Design thinking can help business transform from product-centric to people-centric, from sales-driven to culture-driven, and reassess the authenticity of their brand purposes and their business models.

Prof. Viveca Chan, Chairman and CEO of WE Marketing Group

Presented virtually this year, KODW will steer discussions of a range of forward-looking topics, such as brand resilience and agility, creative leadership, 5G and mobility, artificial intelligence in retail, digital storytelling, to name a few. Bringing it online enables us to break geographical limits and connect with innovators and design experts from any part of the globe. In addition to the speakers who shared their insights above, cross-disciplinary experts and executives from local and international brands, such as IBM, Royal Philips, Herman Miller, EY, Xiaomi, Siemens Mobility, DJI, CASETiFY, Chow Tai Fook Jewellery Group Limited, Eight Inc., etc, will join us virtually from all corners of the world. 

HKDC’s digital transformation does not stop there. As we all attempt to navigate through these unprecedented times, we are committed to inspiring creative confidence and leading design thinking across all sectors through all sorts of effective channels. We are excited to announce that we will soon launch an all-new HKDC Digital Series, a series of short videos, podcasts and other contents with pertinent themes to spark inspiration on how you can use design thinking to innovate for your organisations and industries. Take the challenges we face at this trying time: how can we boost productivity amidst social distancing? How to best gear ourselves up for more unknowns to come? Stay tuned to our social media channels for the latest updates!

In this issue, we will probe into Design Spectrum’s 4th exhibition, In Harmony: the Way of Tea, at 7 Mallory Street, and Touch Tung O!, a new design-thinking-led consultancy project to study the possibilities of revitalising Tung O Ancient Trail sustainably. With another cohort of Fashion Incubation Programme incubatees freshly graduated in the past few months, we will also hear their exciting journeys of moving up their fashion career ladder.

Click  here  to read the full issue of DMatters June 2020.

Further readings

KODW 2020: Designing Digital Futures in post Covid-19 (26-29 Aug)
https://www.kodw.org/

‘Brands are really going to be judged.’ Companies are walking a tightrope during the Covid-19 pandemic, Time Magazine
https://time.com/5814509/coronavirus-marketing/

Want to get the hang of design thinking? Check out Institute of Design Knowledge’s design thinking toolkit
https://www.idk-hkdc.org/toolkit