Tim Williams: “Product, brand and customer experience – all need to be designed”

We gathered the best moments from Tim Williams’ speech from the “Design for Ukraine” Forum. Tim is the Team Leader of the EU-Eastern Partnership Culture and Creativity Programme, which contributes to the social and economic development of the culture and creative industries sector in EaP countries.

What challenges do Ukrainian design face? How can they be overcome? And why is a 35-year-old article by Margaret Thatcher’s article still important – you will find answers below.

Potential and challenges for Ukrainian design

Ukraine has a robust manufacturing base in comparison to many other countries in the region, many successful creative business ideas and the largest consumer market, plus a desire to increase trade with Europe and beyond.

That means there are great opportunities and at the same time many threats. In order to compete, Ukraine’s industry will need to ensure that. It not only talks the talk but more importantly walks the walk of those markets that it wants to enter.

In Europe and here in Ukraine we increasingly witness a world of industry disruption. Companies like Uber, Air BnB, SpaceX, Tesla Motors, and Dyson hand dryers break the industry mould. But more than that, these products are designed to become friends rather than companies with whom we emotionally react.

So the product, the brand, the distribution and the customer experience now all need to be designed. That’s where Ukraine will have to head in order to compete.

UK experience

This is not new. I am British and I remember similar discussions when, 35 years ago, in 1982 British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher wrote an article for the magazine Engineering.

In it she said:

“You will have heard me say many times that whatever economic policy the Government pursues, the best hope for creating more jobs is for British firms to be more successful in selling more British goods both at home and abroad. There are many ingredients for success in the marketplace. But I am convinced that British industry will never compete if it forgets the importance of good design.

By ‘design’ I do not just mean ‘appearance’. I mean all the engineering and industrial design which goes into a product from the idea stage to the production stage, and which is so important in ensuring that it works, that it is reliable, that it is good value and that it looks good. In short, it is a good design, which makes people buy products and which gives products a good name. It is essential to the future of our industry.”

She then added:

“Not enough firms recognise that design should be a part of every stage of a company's planning. It can improve productivity and the quality of the product. But it can only do so if top management is committed to the idea”.

Mrs Thatcher’s words are as important now as they have ever been for the UK and for Ukraine. The rise of technology makes this all the more important.

The future Forum 

Our Forum “Design for Ukraine” focused on the role of design in developing more sustainable towns and regions, more competitive businesses, more international cultural and creative sectors and more innovative solutions to solve the social challenges.

I would like to bring to your attention another event that we are involved in this autumn.

The Ministry of Culture is organising an international forum called "Creative Ukraine – The Creative Economy as a Driver for Growth & Sustainable Development” on 19-20 October. The Culture and Creativity Programme is happy to be a partner in this important endeavour. The forum will focus on developing creative industries in the wider sense and we will present the results of our creative industries study.  For details on how to register please go to http://creativeukraine.org.ua/en/

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