New Creative Horizons: Minting a Fresh Role for the Chief Design Officer


There’s no denying it anymore. A product that’s beautifully crafted and designed sells itself; no heavy lifting required. On the other hand, a poorly designed product can leave you dead in the water. If you value your bottom line, you cannot disvalue design. Just look around you at a few well-known brands.

From the sleek, slick design of Apple’s iPhone, to the perfectly crafted Popeye Chicken Sandwich, to the straight-up addictive interface of Instagram, design plays a pivotal role in whether your product resonates with your market or falls flat on its face. With that in mind, it’s no wonder businesses today are hiring for a new role. Namely, a Chief Design Officer.

Businesses everywhere are waking up to the fact that design is an essential part of a successful product rollout and are acting accordingly.

Why You Should Hire a Chief Design Officer (CDO) Too

Out of all the top-performing businesses that are in the world today, nearly half of the—roughly 40 out of the top 100—employ a Chief Design Officer, a phenomenon that has only emerged over the last five years or so. According to one recent study, companies that are design-led and implement design principles well, outpace their counterparts by 32% in more revenue and more than 56% in total shareholder returns.

In the beginning, when the role was still new, CDO’s might have reported to marketing or merchandising heads. However, today’s CDOs often report directly to the CEO or leader of a business. Interestingly, nowadays marketing heads often find themselves reporting to the CDO instead! Designers are kicking butt and taking names in all creative arenas, becoming true forward-thinking leaders within their industries.

Traits of a Great CDO

Chief Design Officers are folks who not only deeply love the company they work for and understand everything about it; they are lovers and advocates of people too.

Ultimately, a CDO really represents end-users of a product. It doesn’t matter if it’s a customer looking to buy something a new car or cell phone, or a company’s manager signing a business up for new catering or delivery service, CDO’s represent the voice of “the People.”

CDO’s have a natural ability to see the big picture and often possess a combination of skills that help businesses understand, engage, and resonate with their customers.

They have a finger on the pulse of their consumer’s wants and needs, which helps them lead the charge in identifying and designing new products and services to meet those needs. Every CDO’s main goal is to ensure a fantastic product experience. They achieve this by dreaming up new ideas and giving users exactly what they’ve always wanted.

A CDO’s real gift is a natural ability to leverage their skills, such as designing, prototyping, and creating, and use those skills to pave the way for innovation to happen. They are connectors and facilitators from the top down in an organization and help entire businesses embrace new and creative ideas that ultimately serve the customers. When customers are well-served, and design is on point, a business can’t help but be wildly successful. Successful by more than 32%, in fact.

But hey, who’s counting?

See Also:

Design & Leadership: Two Peas in a Pod

Why You Need a Creative At Your C-Suite Table

Fractional COO’s and Why You Need One

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