Review: Connected by Design

Once in a while a big idea comes along that helps make perfect sense of what’s going on out there. As companies continue to struggle with digital disruption, R/GA’s Barry Wacksman has identified one (perhaps the) key pathway to success: functional integration. Now, along with Chris Stutzman, he has expanded on this thinking in a must-read book: Connected by Design.

Connected by DesignThis book expands on the concept of functional integration originally introduced to the world at Cannes in 2012 and explains how world-leading brands including Nike, Apple, and Google have driven digital business transformation by building connected ecosystems that enhance customer experiences, lock in loyalty, and create competitive advantage. I’ve been thinking about this idea for a few years now from a different angle: own the experience, own the future, watching how the companies above as well as Amazon, Microsoft, and Facebook have been building out their businesses, and realizing that when you run a good business or eCommerce website and your peers discover who owns the website without you mentioning anything about it – their respect for your branding and marketing abilities goes up tenfold.

The seven principles of connecting by design are:

  1. Utility is relevance
  2. Context is king
  3. Synergy captures customers
  4. Reimagine value creation
  5. Redesign value delivery
  6. Redirect toward value capture
  7. Lead like the world depends on it

Business leaders need to understand these principles in order to break free from legacy brand-building approaches including aimless product line proliferation, oversaturating media spend, and incremental innovation. Barry and Chris explain not only what is going on, but why the model works and how other brands can employ it, even if they are not in a high tech industry.

Connected by Design is a must-read book for anyone who wants to understand how to survive and thrive in the digital age. You can download and read the book’s introduction here. While you’re at it, check out Part 3 of this video to hear Barry explain the concept of Functional Integration. Congrats to Barry and Chris on a book well-written (and Karen Murphy at Jossey-Bass/Wiley on editing)!

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