Want a Good Business Model? Sell Beautiful

So says Larry Green, Corporate Web Director at Landor:

Some will argue that in high technology companies, visual design really isn’t that important, because what separates the winners from the losers in this game is superior engineering. To that, I also say: lip service. Technological excellence will get you a lead, but it won’t sustain it, because everyone’s technology is always improving; that competitor in your rear-view mirror is closer than you think.

What happens in technology companies when visual design—and the deeply creative thinking it embodies—gets a seat at the big table with engineering? What happens when visual design is integrated into the product development process from day one? I don’t know for sure, but I think you end up with something like Apple’s iPhone.

Rory Marinich, (in a post since removed), explains this idea in advertising terms, using Apple as an example. In its advertisements, the company highlights a device’s aesthetics instead of technical specifications:

The iPad is a 10” computer with a 16GB flash drive and multitouch technology. What makes that so worthwhile? Haven’t we seen this before? How is this better than a Windows tablet or a netbook?

Here’s why. Apple’s not actually selling a computer. Or a flash drive or multitouch. They needed to make those things for their product, but that’s not what the product is. The product is, simply put, a magical screen that can do anything you ever want it to, no matter what that is.

Here you go. It’s five hundred dollars. If you pay me that, I will give you this magical thing that can do anything. You don’t have to read a manual. It will do anything, and it will do it right now, out of the box.

Other companies are selling computers. Apple’s selling magic. Which one would you rather have?

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