ABCs Of Design
A. Hire a competent designer at the C-Level in your company, and trust her/him to help integrate design into your infrastructure. Apple follows this model, as Jobs serves as the CDO (Chief Design Officer). He has a great aesthetic and works closely with his design team to build superior products.
B. Take a user-centered approach to product design. Seek out real people and engage them in the design of your products by asking them what they need, prototyping the possibilities and getting feedback from them on the result. I’m not talking about focus groups, either. Groups end up being ruled by one or two strong-willed people, and the rest of the group will defer to their opinions. Do one-on-one interviews in people’s homes to get their personal opinion, and observe their surroundings. What they say and how they live will tell you more than the lemmings that comprise most focus groups.
C. Craft a distinct look and feel for your entire product line, thereby setting your products apart. NAD has such a distinct look, and one could easily pick them out in of a line-up of components. The design isn’t award-winning, but at least it’s recognizable.