If you asked a commercial designer that question, they might say, “The real issue isn’t the installation, but rather the relationship between the light bulb and the ceiling around it, and if you were to introduce a new light bulb at this point, it would throw off the entire balance of the room and require massive changes which would, of course, result in budgetary issues, so I’m not saying I couldn’t change it, but it’d be best to establish a baseline for this at an early stage.”

While that’s a bit tongue-in-cheek, it’s not that far off from how designers critically think about every component integrating into one space. Recently, the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID) released the Interior Design 2015-2016 Outlook and State of the Industry Report which highlights key industry trends.

Among the findings was that the value of annual specified products by North American designers is expected to be up 35 percent compared to its low point in 2010, further validating an industry recovery. That’s the good news. The bad news is that many building and architectural product brands will miss out on opportunities to get specified for two main reasons:

1. They don’t fully comprehend a designer’s path to specification related specifically to their brand, product category and market application, and

2. They haven’t defined a compelling enough communications strategy to engage and connect with designers during their key specification inflection points.

To begin understanding a designer’s path to specification, it’s crucial to understand what designers are thinking about today. Here are some of the hot-button issues they’re facing:

  • Increase of Complexity – Today’s commercial designers are being asked to solve more complex challenges. Gone are the days when they simply needed to make a room look appealing. Now, they are responsible for utilizing the latest technology to maximize building efficiency and use materials that are sustainable. They are at the crossroads of balancing today’s realities with tomorrow’s needs.
  • Technological Innovations – From 3D printing to BIM software to the Internet of Things, technological innovations are changing the way designers work. Perhaps even more important is that the designer’s customer is becoming more empowered through technology. Whether it’s a homeowner, property manager or building operator, designers are forced to keep up with and respond to the demands of a more educated end-user.
  • Health and Well-Being – Designers are being asked to create spaces that promote a healthier lifestyle for both organizations and individuals. It’s a concept based on the belief that physical surroundings can influence how active and healthy a person is. This can range from the placement of a structure like making staircases more visible to introducing new structures like sit/stand workstations.
  • Crowdsourcing Design – A common misconception is that designers are only hired by affluent segments. One way this will change is through crowdsourcing design. According to ASID, sites like Arcbazar are facilitating architecture design competitions and using it as opportunities for every person to connect with a designer and to have access to high-quality competitive, architecturally-designed solutions. For designers, it may open up the market for more work, but will also create higher competition as designers from around the world compete for the same projects.

Of course, this is merely the tip of the iceberg. In order to successfully market to designers, building and architectural product brands need to connect design trends to the journey that their target designers take when specifying their products. In next week’s blog, we’ll examine strategies to better understand that journey to serve as a foundation for a marketing communications plan.

By the way, the real answer to the light bulb joke is 500. One designer to change it and 499 to say they ripped off their idea. Again, a bit tongue-in-cheek.