Brand Smackdown: What IKEA Can Teach Us About Business Design

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When was the last time you took a step back, and intentionally designed your business?

Like, as in:
Designing your workflow, to get important stuff DONE?
Creating a purposeful user experience for your clients or customers?
Building your website in such a way, that your visitors can easily find what they want?
Designing your business to BE & DO what you dream it can?

As your brand designer, I create the exterior design—the website, the logo, and so forth—the “clothing” your business wears, and also what your audience sees.

P1010853me & Lady Liberty

Behind the scenes, you can design a strong framework to help your business run smoothly + efficiently + effectively.Take the Statue of Liberty; she has a copper exterior, which is what you & I see when we look at her. But what holds her together, and keeps her in good shape year after year – is the steel framework inside!

And IKEA is a great example of a company with a strong and unique framework. (It just happens to be one of my favorite stores! Maybe you’re an IKEA fan too?). Just in case you’ve never been, IKEA is like a home furnishings store on steroids…there’s simply nothing else like it.

IKEA-logoBehind their distinctive blue & yellow logo + other brand visuals, lies a fantastic customer experience that serves both to benefit both the company and their customers.

It’s designed purposefully + uniquely, to show off their wares, make their customers feel comfortable and well-taken-care-of, allow people the chance to try out their stuff, make it easy to buy, and to streamline the whole process of outfitting and decorating one’s home.

What IKEA Can Teach Us About Business & Customer Experience Design

1 Have a clear path mapped out, with guideposts and/or milestones along the way to guide your customers in the right directions. IKEA does this with their store’s floor plan, guiding each customer from the entrance to the checkout. Where do you want your “path” to lead? Does it start on your website Home page, and end at the Sales page of your signature program? Or maybe it starts at an in-person event, with your business card as the “map” that leads to your website? Think about how you can point your prospects in the right direction.

2 Give your people what they need & want – right there on your website! IKEA knows that trying to outfit a whole room, apartment, or house is a big job, and finding the necessary furniture, fixtures, décor, etc. can take hours or even the whole day. So they stick a cafeteria right in middle of the store, so their customers can grab lunch or a snack, and then go right back to shopping. What kind of resources, free or low-cost items, or information can you give your peeps, that will be helpful + keep them focused and moving towards the end goal you want them to reach?

3 Constantly look for ways to innovate (to do better). One thing I love about IKEA, is they’re always looking for ways to make their products better: Like, making items nest together to save space, and/or using recycled materials. So what could you do, to make your products or services more effective, better quality, and/or more in line with your & your customers’ values?

4 Show off your wares with gusto, in a way that will make your clients or customers fall in love. The most fun part of shopping at IKEA (in my opinion), is strolling through the showroom and seeing all the different décor possibilities, trying out the furniture, and so forth. I’m guessing that it’s also a big part of IKEA’s sales strategy—it’s hard not to “ooh” and “aah” over the stuff in the showroom, get more ideas for your own space at home, and end up buying more (or different) items that you thought you would. For your business, figure out where this “drool factor” would be most effective – on your sales page(s), around your testimonials or other results/social proof, or on opt-in pages – and make those areas extra special and enticing!

5 Create great business systems, so everything (from shipping products to client relations) can hum along smoothly. I so admire how IKEA has figured out how to fit 100% of their (unassembled) furniture neatly into flat-packed boxes. Imagine how much space and shipping costs they save over traditional furniture retailers! Nearly every furniture item I’ve ever bought from them, I wondered “How the heck do they fit this normally large item into a flat box?”. Then I open the box, and see how all the pieces fit so neatly/snugly together, almost like a puzzle – and how they all go together to build the finished item. Using this mentality, what kind of systems can you create, to get more done in less time, or turn your home office into a model of efficiency (even in a small workspace)?

The bottom line: Be deliberate about designing your business! I know it’s not always easy to see the bigger picture, and in that case, I find it helpful to take an hour, or even a day or two, away—as in, getting out of your office/home—somewhere you can really think about your biz objectively.

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About Barbara Austin

As the graphic designer & founder of Sweet Dreamz Design, Barbara loves working with women entrepreneurs to brand their businesses. She shares a variety of small business advice and anecdotes here on the blog. Check back every week for new tips, inspirations, and how-to articles, or subscribe to get regular updates in your inbox each week!

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