Good Design Is Good Business

By Peter Cronin | Friday, November 16, 2018 | No Comments

Clarity By Design. For the past several years that phrase has served as both tagline and prime mission statement here at Cronin Creative. We understand the vital role design plays in establishing and differentiating a business in today’s overcrowded, highly competitive marketplace. Thankfully, our clients, having experienced the real difference that carefully considered, expertly executed design can make for their businesses, understand this as well.

It’s accepted wisdom these days that quality design is healthy for, and even integral to, a company’s success. But when Thomas Watson, Jr. took over the reins of IBM from his famously successful father back in the early 1950s, it was something of a revolutionary idea.

The story goes that the younger Watson happened to walk into the Fifth Avenue offices of Olivetti and was blown away by the brightly colored, highly designed typewriters displayed in a modern, brightly lit showroom. Comparing Olivetti’s innovative, design-centric approach to his company’s rather drab, lifeless look, Watson decided then and there to change the face of IBM.

In 1956, Watson hired noted architect and MOMA curator Eliot Noyes to oversee an all-encompassing redesign of everything IBM – from logos to products to buildings to marketing materials. Working with some of the most visionary artists of the day – Eero Saarinen, Paul Rand, Charles and Ray Eames, and Isamu Noguchi – Noyes helped transform IBM into what former New York Times Design Director Steven Heller calls “the company to beat, the paradigm of the modern corporation.”

We’re thankful for Watson, Jr.’s creative insight and his determination to see it through. His influence is seen today everywhere you look, and the world is a more colorful, graphically stimulating place for his efforts. In 1973, speaking to students at the University of Pennsylvania, Watson, Jr. neatly summed up the philosophy that helped him and IBM become so successful with the following statement:

“Good design is good business.”

We say Amen to that!

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