Implications and Benefits of Co-Design

23 Jan 2011, by Alexandre Gravel in Branding, Design, Innovation, Toast
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Co-design is a philosophy which states that if every individual has different ideals and perspectives, then any design process must acknowledge this.

But how does that fit in our approach, here at Toast? One point that matters far more than any other is the client’s involvement and what he can (and must) must bring to a project when he works with us.

And it’s not a matter of simply giving out the project executive’s cell phone and ask for their opinion once in while. It goes beyond that.

From letting our clients share knowledge of their industry, the market in which they thrive and their objectives with our team, to having them take an active part in developing the strategies and tactics that will be deployed, we never position ourselves as being more important in the solution input process.

Customer co-design contributes and enhances the client’s potential input. Benefits include:

  • 50% of possible innovations can stem from your client
  • Improved customer experience by some type of direct involvement towards the client’s ideals (but be warned, that doesn’t mean that everything the client says will be done down to a T!)
  • direct access to the client’s background and priorities
  • Lower risks and costs by improving the agency<->client communication channel

I firmly believe in the importance of client input, especially in a context where we want to solve business issues. At Toast, our clients are not all from the same line of business. Therefore, we turn to them to validate an approach, a strategy or choice of tactic based on their market. Being on the outside looking in, we can have a more objective POV on what we’re told, but in the end, our clients are the ones who know their market and their line of business.

I have told my clients for the past 10 years:

“We are not experts in your specific market, you are. We won’t set business targets for you, you know much better than us how to do that.

We are experts in developing communication and marketing tools that integrate the context of your market and business goals.”

Aside from client input, we ask ourselves what one or many outside specialists might say on the subject. We do not claim to know everything on the internal side. We can’t always be on the cutting edge of every last development in such and such field. That’s why we regularly welcome to our team external experts that maximise our efforts by bringing specific and targeted input. These contributors are the ones who bring that magic touch to certains projects.

If you’d like to learn more about our co-design approach, just let me know.

In conclusion, I couldn’t resist including this clip, from Thinkpublic, which demonstrates what co-design is:

Other relevant reads:



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