Canadian business leaders discuss the importance of design

From L to R: MEC's Design Lead Dianne Semark; Second Cup VP of Marketing Vanda Provato; RGD Past-President Lionel Gadoury RGD; 500px CEO Andy Yang


On June 23, RGD organized a roundtable on the topic of how Canadian business can best leverage design resources to remain innovative and competitive. The roundtable welcomed panelists:


-     Lionel Gadoury, RGD Past President & Principal of Context Creative (Moderator)
-     Vanda Provato, VP of Marketing at Second Cup
-     Dianne Semark, Design Lead at MEC
-     Andy Yang, CEO of 500px


A starting point for the discussion was a question from RGD's 2014/2015 CreativeEarners Survey which found that 54% of our respondents believe the greatest threat to the design industry is a lack of awareness about the value of design.

Click here to watch the full video


The 1.5-hour discussion included brief case studies from each panelist, focusing on a business challenge, design strategy and ROI produced through the use of design. Lionel spoke about bringing a product to life by creating a personality named ‘Joule’ for Hydro One; Andy explained the challenge of creating a sustainable start-up business model; Dianne explored MEC’s 2013 rebrand; and Vanda discussed Second Cup's new brand and in-store experience for customers.


The panelists explored how design impacts a business’ bottom line, the trend toward mobile design, the increasing importance of experience design in connecting with customers, why U.S. venture capital firms snapping up designers for business strategy and more.


All of the panelists agreed upon the importance of small, thought-out design details; the “extra 10%” as Andy put it. For 500px, it’s the swirling infinity symbol that appears at the bottom of the company's website; for MEC it’s the importance of product field testing (do the hoodies fit over a helmet, are the drawstrings too high, too low?); for Second Cup it’s the purse hooks and charging stations under the bar.


“If you do not have good design, you’re not one of the best companies or one of the start-ups that is going to make it,” stressed Andy.


Yet, Dianne noted that: “there are not that many Canadian-based, design-driven organizations”. Though Vanda argued that the retail sector now realizes the importance of the customer experience and constant brand reinvention, she echoed Dianne’s sentiment, stating that, “there are not enough Canadian brands leading the way”.


The conversation concluded with Lionel highlighting the key takeaway from the conversation: how important it is that Canadian businesses view design and innovation as a competitive advantage in the marketplace. RGD’s hope is that initiatives such as this roundtable will help us and our members communicate that message.


The roundtable videos were generously filmed and produced by MediaFace Digital Content Agency, an RGD Gold Sponsor.