Is business development:business as style:design?

The title of this post is an attempt to articulate the question "Wouldn’t you say that business development has become to business as styling has become to design?" It sparks from a conversation on building and creating a ‘brand’ – not a brand in the traditional sense, like a Coca Cola or a Pepsi or Tide, but a ‘brand’ like a McKinsey, an IDEO, a Pentagram or a Landor. They are businesses, all, but the deliverable in the first set is a tangible that you can hold in your hand and use, whereas, for the second set, the brand promise centers around the intangible, their ‘capacity for thought leadership’ or the ‘quality of their deliverable.’ One could argue that their deliverable too, is a tangible – in the form of a report or a rendering or a prototype. But that would be splitting hairs.

Here’s the relevant portion of the discourse, my words in blue, the party of the second part’s in green.

Yes, building a business, or rather creating a ‘brand’ is indeed the
perfect design problem. While the words business development have
fallen in the sad disrepute of being interchangeable with selling Xerox
copiers, in the true sense of the word you can best communicate your
unique value proposition to your audience with clarity, only after
taking a look at your strengths and weaknesses, in relation to the
market you wish to serve, then identify a niche and figure out the best
way to reach your target audience. That is business development – not sales.
because your offering is grounded on fundamental principles – i.e. has
integrity , thus/therefore you are able to communicate your brand
consistently across all channels.

Your characterization of business development sparked something for me.  I wonder if
it is to business as style is to design.  Here is what I mean:  while both ‘design’ and
‘business’ have rather broad meanings, both are at their best problem
solving endeavours (from different angles) and driven by a profound
inherent strategic perspective.  Meanwhile ‘style’ and ‘biz dev’ are
almost entirely tactical, have devolved to a state where a business
developer is just a snazzy salesman and a stylist is just a visual copy
cat (I’m being
hyperbolic to illustrate a point), yet many people outside the
discipline equate style with design and bizdev with business.

At this point, I brought the conversation online and would like to add that in one context, what Green is saying does make sense. This context would be the ‘devolution’ of the context and meaning of the words "business development" and "styling". For in one sense, styling can be taken to mean the ‘final touch’ or ‘gloss’ (in the positive sense) put on a product in order to communicate it’s intent and qualities at a glance.

Similarly, developing a business means growing it in a strategic sense with a feedback loop (to apply some design thinking here) to tweak and change the ‘prototype’ business model evolving it almost organically into a self sustaining, revenue generating asset that adds value.

What do you think?

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2 Responses to Is business development:business as style:design?

  1. Hiren says:

    Very interesting distinction between business development and sales. A blog also represents a kind of brand, representing the personality of the blogger. Why don’t you present the same in the context of blogging?
    Besides, one should know one’s own self, a process easier said than done.

  2. niti bhan says:

    Because I’ve already ‘presented’ the blog, don’t you see? So deriving it to another application makes more sense 🙂

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