Design as a development strategy

Have you heard about the design ladder? It is a tool that codifies the level of use of design in companies. Well, what you may not know is that the most successful companies use design at a higher level than their competitors.

The high­er the level of usage of design in a com­pany, the bet­ter. It is a fact and there are many data to prove it. But not all com­pan­ies have yet a high level of integ­ra­tion of design. And not all are ready to change their struc­ture, devel­op­ment strategy and devel­op­ment pro­cesses, espe­cially without try­ing it first. Furthermore, to be truly effi­cient, design to boost innov­a­tion in com­pan­ies should nev­er be self-centred. On the oppos­ite, it should be a joint effort of in‑house design integ­ra­tion and extern­al col­lab­or­at­ive work. Why? Because com­pan­ies have rigid struc­tures, policies, rivalry between depart­ments, suc­cess and fail­ure his­tory, tra­di­tion­al think­ing, intern­al doubts… so many things that block com­pan­ies to innov­ate the right way. Our job here it to offer you all the sup­port you may need in the cor­rect estab­lish­ment of your devel­op­ment strategy, whatever is your cur­rent design lad­der level of integration.

Nickel-Chrome, development strategy + industrial design + engineering, certification & manufacturing management.

The design ladder


Level 0: Non-design.

Design is invis­ible. Product devel­op­ment or mar­ket­ing ini­ti­at­ives are under­taken by untrained designers.

Things are pro­duced from the ideas of a small num­ber of people. The user or cus­tom­er per­spect­ive does not really play a part in decisions.

Level 1: Design as styling.

Design is looked as the way of mak­ing some­thing look nice at the end of the pro­cess. It’s all about aesthetic.

For example, a product is developed and then giv­en to a product design­er to make look nice at the end.

Little thought is giv­en to the design of the over­all experience.

Level 2: Design as a process.

Design is not con­sidered as a res­ult, but instead as a way of thinking.

Design meth­ods are built into the early stage of product or ser­vice development.

Solutions are driv­en by customer‑centric prob­lems and col­lab­or­a­tion from mul­tiple teams is employed to devel­op solu­tions and communications.

The whole pro­cess is customer‑centric.

Level 3: Design as a strategy.

Design is embed­ded in the lead­er­ship team.

It is embraced and allowed to play a part in shap­ing the over­all busi­ness concept.

It is employed to cre­ate a vis­ion of the company’s future and then to forge the ways the com­pany is going to get there.

Level 4: Design as a systemic change.

Using design to help solve com­plex social issues, massive industry prob­lems, or to stream­line com­plex ecosystems.

Design is used to drive sys­tem­ic change across numer­ous organ­isa­tions or businesses.

Level 5: Design as a culture.

Design is used to build the company’s cul­ture, shift­ing the mind­sets of people to align to the design mindset.

People inside the com­pany are start­ing to innov­ate, act like entre­pren­eurs, embrace ambi­gu­ity, listen to the voice of the cus­tom­er… and lead through design.

Our approach

We are working with an international iterative design process. Therefore, each stage is validated and approved before going to the next.

Having those reg­u­lar check points is the best way for you and us to con­trol the pro­gres­sion of the pro­jects. At each stage, we give you our explan­a­tions, jus­ti­fic­a­tions and recom­mend­a­tions, as indus­tri­al design must remain prag­mat­ic at all times and in regards of object­ive criteria.

Nickel-Chrome, an ally at all steps

Our 4 stages iterative process

Our process is iterative; we validate each stage before going to the next. It starts with the very first idea. It finishes with the design requirements & quotations.

Stage 1: Briefing

Collecting all the rel­ev­ant data from Client in one place.

Clarifying the inform­a­tion through dis­cus­sions. Define a SMART goal.

Stage 2: In-house analysis

Analyse the mar­ket to fully under­stand it.

Present and val­id­ate the ana­lys­is. Modify/validate the SMART goal.

Stage 3: Joint brainstorming

Exploring and defin­ing with you the best new paths to achieve your goals.

Define the pros and cons of each solution.

Sort and eval­u­ate the new solu­tions and provide you with advice, so you can choose with all cards in hands.

Stage 4: Design requirements

Establishing all the design require­ments match­ing the defined new strategy for the products.

Adjust, choose & val­id­ate the ser­vice solu­tions and quo­ta­tions to design the right products.

Our 4 different services for

development strategy

New features strategy

Very often, a good way to boost sales is to include a new feature in your new products. But which one will be the most efficient to increase your market shares or improve your brand image and make a buzz?

We list the pos­sib­il­it­ies and look for new ideas of fea­tures, then present them to you, along­side with our recom­mend­a­tions. Like which one would be the most use­ful to con­sumers, which one would be the best to boost sales…

It is the best and easi­est solu­tion to keep ideas flow­ing in your company’s products.

Nickel-Chrome, a turnkey service

New path strategy

Sometimes, brands or companies have a hard time to define which product to develop next, which path to take. Is it the right idea? Is it the right time to embrace this concept/technology? Should we follow what the market is doing, or should we challenge it? And if so, how? Which path should we take, and why?

If your com­pany don’t have an answer to all those ques­tions, then you need an extern­al sup­port. Why? Because an extern­al point of view is always help­ful, provided that it is pro­fes­sion­al and object­ive. Maybe your teams don’t agree on what to next and why. Or they simply don’t know what to do, which can hap­pen some­time. In short: you need an object­ive and extern­al pro­fes­sion­al point of view, one that is not influ­enced by the his­tory of your com­pany or any intern­al depart­ment disputes.

Our pro­cess and our teams are with you to identi­fy your right path. We gath­er all the right inform­a­tion from you, we ana­lyse your mar­ket (alone) and we then help your teams to define the right devel­op­ment path. And we will, of course, jus­ti­fy our advice each time by telling you WHY you should fol­low this path rather than another.

Our “New path strategy” ser­vice is clearly the ideal solu­tion in moments of doubt.

Nickel-Chrome, a turnkey service

New kind of product strategy

Once in a while, developing an entirely new kind of product can be a really good strategy to react to more aggressive competitors. But to do so efficiently, you always need an external support. Why always an external support?

Because your cur­rent teams don’t have the neces­sary time to think about it with the every­day oper­a­tions. Because it is hard for them to go out of their com­fort zone? Because of their lack of cre­ativ­ity or abil­ity to think out­side of the box? The reas­ons can be many. Our ser­vice helps you to define a new kind of product (some­times sev­er­al), at first in Nickel-Chrome’s stu­dio for the first step, then in total col­lab­or­a­tion with your teams. That way, you bene­fit from everything: our pro­cess, our ideas, our extern­al vis­ion, our mutu­al exper­i­ence, the involve­ment of your teams, the feas­ib­il­ity ana­lys­is of this new kind of product in regards with your cur­rent capabilities.

It is the ideal solu­tion to shake things up in your favour.

Nickel-Chrome, a turnkey service

DNA design identity strategy

Your business, your brand and your products have a DNA profile, as do your competitors. For many, this DNA profile is a result of who they are and what they do. For more conscious and audacious companies, DNA is a powerful tool to create maximum impact for their brand and develop unique and highly differentiating products. But only if it is developed with a professional external eye and a well thought process.

Together, we define your busi­ness, brand and product val­ues to achieve cul­tur­al fit and glob­al con­sist­ency. Nickel‑Chrome then cre­ates your DNA Design Identity. This is a highly oper­a­tion­al guide for the design and devel­op­ment of your products. It is an invalu­able tool to define the essence of your brand and what makes it unique and pos­sesses spe­cif­ic and iden­ti­fi­able char­ac­ter­ist­ics which can be trans­ferred to your cur­rent and future product offering.

Nickel-Chrome, a turnkey service