3 simple business design resources

Business Model Canvas The original and simplest. I like it because it can be used in a variety of scenarios such as analysing a singular product as well as a whole business.

Design Sojourn: Business Design Toolkit A variation on the above, expanded to examine organisational values

Board of Innovation: Business model brainstorm kit Again a variation on the original, but with a great resource of fee materials and some nice simple case studies for reference.

Apps for good and how to pitch

So I had the pleasure of coaching some lovely entrants to the finals of this years apps for good this week. There were two teams, both from the same school, one group pitching a game that teaches basic cryptography, the others a smart take on the alarm clock. Both teams were lovely, smart and eloquent, sadly only one of the pitches matched up to its team. The issue i had with the not so good pitch is it told me nothing about their business, why they existed, who they were for, it was confusing. I felt I had to be honest, so played bad cop and ripped into the poor kids…

Anyway, the basic advice I gave was this:

  1. State whats wrong, the problem, what you are trying to fix: ‘In a world where…’
  2. State why you exist (in the context of this world): ‘We exist to…’
  3. Tell us what you have created (to address or fix this problem): ‘So we have created…’
  4. Who have you done this for? Who is your customer or target audience: ‘For…’
  5. Tell us what they (your customer) gets, not literally, but in terms of value, tangible or intangible: ‘So they get…’

Yes this doesn’t go into product road map, financial model etc, and yes you need that stuff too, but in terms of explaining to your audience what it is you are showing them, it’s a pretty solid structure. Anyway, the good news is, after writing their pitch, they won their category, and the star of the team was offered an Internship at Samsung. After hearing that, I felt less bad for tearing them apart.


5 Principles of brand experience – 2011 edition

Originally published via Wolff Olins September 2011, posted again for posterity, 2014 edition to follow…

In a world where Brands are no longer defined by positioning but their roles in peoples lives, the experience that a Brand creates and curates though it’s products and services is fundamental to the sustainability of the business. Most peer-to-peer recommendation is based on experience – our perception, the emotional take out of interacting with products and services – if the experience fails, then so does the Brand. So how do we design the end-to-end Experience? How do we support the role of the Brand in the world? The following is presented as a set of principles and questions that brands should consider when designing this system.

The modern Brand Experience should be: Ubiquitous, Social, Semantic, Sentient and Human.


  • Throughout the experience / value chain
  • Across multiple channels
  • 24 – 7 – 365

Where many brands will focus on a few discrete stages of the end-to-end experience, the opportunities for providing increased customer value will usually lie outside of these. Typically many brands will focus around stages of consideration and transaction, yet for customers greater value can typically be gleaned post purchase – Services vs Sales. As a brand, what are we uniquely positioned to offer? What and where are we credible for? Where do we have permission to play? How can we fit seamlessly into or enhance existing systems? How do our customers want to interact with us? Where? When? What are the patterns of these interactions?


  • Enhanced by the social graph (but not dependent upon it)
  • Creates and facilitates conversations
  • Shareable

Brand experience is improved by the presence of other people – their knowledge, opinion, history and future intent – can the experiences we design be enhanced by people but still work in their absence? Does the experience prompt and capture conversation and build on the insights? Is the experience itself and the artefacts within it shareable, viral?


  • Gives meaning to complex multi layered data
  • Understands human requests
  • Connect-able

More data exists in the world than ever before, data that can immeasurably enhance our existence if understood and interpreted correctly. Yet this data is complex, multi layered and disconnected – how do we interpret meaning from this, build connections to form insights and answers? When we allow people access to this data, how human is the interaction? Why do we only ask binary questions? How much do we cater to subtly or nuance? With the data we own, do we build and allow connections to and from it? Often data only makes sense when layered with other data that gives it meaning.


  • Context aware
  • Reacts (pre-empts) accordingly
  • Learns

The brand experience should be living – this requires an understanding of context and the ability to react to it. Do we sense context – time, place, occasion, preference, social connection and history? Can we react or pre-empt against context? Our lives are built around patterns – yet do we observe and learn from deviation?


  • Simplifies complexity
  • Democratises the service
  • Creates new behaviours
  • Gives immediate value

Simplicity democratises, and can allow a brand or its products and services to reach new audiences, so why do we often design complexity over simplicity? Why do we bombard customers with choice? Why don’t we design for accessibility? Why a ‘press-and-click’ when a gesture seems more natural and intuitive? And can we even enable new behaviours by making things as easy as possible? Yet humanising an experience is not always enough – we need to make the value of an interaction immediately apparent, whilst conveying that this value will build over time with increased engagement.

While these principles are by no means definitive – as a starting point for challenging the existing experience, they can help a brand maintain a role that is living, human, considerate and above all – valuable.