Winning with Purposeful Design

image: Lawrence Whittemore

by: Grayson Leverenz

When I worked in marketing at a Fortune 50 CPG company, copy approval was the most painful part of my job. It would take weeks, sometimes months, to craft appropriate wording for the website or language for an on-shelf display that would meet the approval of marketing, legal, and the 4 or 5 other signatories. Enter Coke’s David Butler, VP of Global Design.

I just read an article about Butler in Fast Company’s October issue. Challenged with the task of making a colossal brand even bigger, Butler did two major things. He returned to the core of the brand through a mandate of simplicity, focusing on Coke’s iconic red, flat script and bottle shape. Everything his team designs starts there. Then, he began building customizable templates with Coke’s "Design Machine" to "create point-of-sale materials that are customized for local markets but adhere to the global brand strategy."

Butler walked the Fast Company reporter through the process and in less than 10 minutes produced a "perfect banner for my little shashlik stand in Almaty." Produced, approved by legal and printed in less than 10 minutes. Are you kidding me? In my old corporate world, that would be unthinkable.

Butler sees systems, thinks strategically and "designs on purpose." Today’s MBAs, tomorrow’s leaders, should learn from people like Butler. Whether we’re designing consumer products or new financial systems, we should be thinking, “How can we simplify and customize in ways that help us win?”

Perhaps we should follow Butler’s lead when we’re branding ourselves for the application process and the job search. Imagine distilling your strengths and skills into 3 or 4 core elements that you can then customize for every school or future employer. What clarity of messaging you would have!

Butler emphasizes that his story “is not a design story (but) leveraging design to drive innovation and to win at the point of sale.”

That sounds like music to my ears, especially if the approach eliminates those dreaded copy approval meetings.

Author: Grayson Leverenz

Grayson Leverenz founded MBA in the USA® to help international students build networks, find jobs, and have fun in the USA. Hundreds of global professionals have benefited from Grayson’s intercultural workshops, and she has worked with people from Brazil, China, India, South Africa, South Korea, the UK, and the USA to build effective virtual teams and craft brilliant careers.

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1 Comment

  1. Wow, my experience in an agency is almost identical to yours, but we didn’t have a David Butler. Good to know there is a light at the end of the tunnel!

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