Management via design was traditionally focused on manufactured products ― industrial design being the best-known aspect of “design management” ― and has recently been expanding into service sectors such as mobile operators, airlines, banks and hotels.
This may be chiefly because the nation’s top business groups, most of which are manufacturers, are utilizing design as a key asset for their business growth and innovation, while the service industry, in contrast, is still in the developing stages and has consequently fallen behind in the trend of design-driven innovation.
KT Corp. is now hoping to change the tide.
As the country’s second-largest telecom service provider, the firm is at the fore of the service sector’s efforts toward design-oriented business achievements.
KT, formerly a state-controlled firm, has long struggled with a closed-door, bureaucratic corporate culture. Even after its 2002 privatization, the company remained steeped in this culture, mostly because the employees had virtually no experience working in a private company.
In 2009, in a bid to break out of this mold and carve out a new identity following its merger with mobile subsidiary Korea Telecom Freetel, the company came out with its “Olleh management” campaign. Olleh is the backward spelling of hello, expressing the brand’s willingness to be original and innovative, according the company.
This campaign involved KT changing its logo from its former blue ― which represented mostly technology and functionality ― to a vibrant red that symbolized the passion and emotion KT hoped to harness.
As a means to push ahead with Olleh management, the company shored up its design management.
|KT chairman Lee Suk-chae has shored up design management as a means to push ahead with Olleh management. KT created the product identity to maintain its design consistency in its service products. (KT)|
“KT’s design elements in the past were technology-centered, and not exactly consumer-friendly, making it difficult for consumers to use its services,” the company’s chairman Lee Suk-chae said last year during a press event. “KT will from now on be focusing on developing user-friendly services.”
KT created a product identity to maintain its design consistency such as how people can easily recognize Apple and BMW products with their consistent brand mark design and location.
Though the telecom carrier cannot get involved in handset designs in the mobile business, it can apply the product-identity design to its service products in the landline sector, including Internet modems, IPTV, set-top boxes and satellite antenna.
“Following the launch of PI-designed products, consumers’ willingness to purchase grew by some 40 percent according to a consumer survey,” Lee said.
KT also posted 23.8 trillion won ($21.7 billion) in sales last year, up from 20.3 trillion won in 2010.
On top of products, its design value has expanded into spaces. KT has built six cafe-styled spaces called Olleh Square and Olleh Avenue where people can freely get firsthand experience of new smart devices. This has naturally helped users feel more familiar with the brand and services. This culture space was selected by the “iF” communication design award 2011 in the area of corporate architecture ― interactive installation.
KT said it planned to expand its design management to the entire group by completing its branding identity by 2014, and its design philosophy will be shared with all its branch offices down the road.
By Shin Ji-hye(firstname.lastname@example.org