When Thomas Watson Jr. told Wharton students in 1973 that good design is good business, the idea seemed unrealistic, silly even. For many people, design still meant the superficial polish of nicer homes and cleaner graphics.
This is the schism of marketing. That until 1995, what marketing was – was clever clothes (superficial polish) on a boring product, that you made an average product for average people, (which is another word for mass, right!) and then you use some of the money you make to hire marketing people to put an ad around it or package around it , so it doesn’t look average any more.
But there is a shift and this shift is rejecting average products for average people, so companies like Apple, Google, Amazon, Groupon, and JetBlue grow because they reject this philosophy, and instead say, “we have exceptional stuff for a few people, talk about it if you want.”
Design has become a decisive advantage in countless industries, not to mention a crucial tool to ward off commoditization. Those companies (listed above) are just a few of a growing list, other companies singing the good design is good business gospel range from Comcast to Pintrest to Starbucks.