How can design benefit business and strategy?

Anna Berg

‘Heavy metal’ summer project explored design as a strategic tool in technology driven companies.

Photo: Pirita Posti.

During the summer months, 9 enthusiastic design students worked with three technology industry companies: Premix - a developer of functional plastics, Robit - a manufacturer of high quality button bits for drilling, and Normet - an expert in mining and tunnelling processes and a deliverer of mining equipment.

For the team working for Robit, the goal was to clarify and visualize brand strategy. Working through staff interviews and a co-design workshop, the students clarified the company values, and developed a cohesive brand message. The resulting toolset offered visual and operational guidelines for presenting the company to the customers.

Robit CEO Mika Virtanen got a really positive impression of the groups’ work already after their co-design workshop: “I saw these people who are clearly more visionaries and artists than we who are daily in the business. It opens your eyes and makes you stop actually – and think differently. It gives you a new picture”, he said.

The students thought of the various possibilities of using design more effectively – not just as a project but as a function stretching throughout the company operations. The group working for Normet gave the company an extensive set of suggestions ranging from appointing a design manager to rethinking the product portfolio.

“I was surprised by the accuracy of the students’ rendition of our company’s present state in terms of design practices. Their suggestions were good and we should definitely examine them thoroughly“, tells project director Timo Lipponen from Normet.

For Premix, the brief was to develop a “dream customer experience”. The students developed a customer experience induction guideline, customer experience metrics and ideas for tracking customer relationship.

“The students’ open attitude towards the challenging subject and their commitment to thorough analysis was great. We felt that the team was genuinely interested in the project, our company and our products. We got wonderful new ideas and will be able to use the results to better understand our customer experience”, tells Mia Puhakainen, marketing manager for Premix.

The Heavy Metal summer project was organised with the support of the Technology Industries of Finland Centennial Foundation. Managing director, Dr. Laura Juvonen believes that design is an important factor for the future of technology industry. “Design plays a key role in the progression and competitiveness of the industry. We at the foundation wanted to give these young designers the possibility of working together with the technology industry already during their studies.”

Students made videos presenting their projects. Here's team Robit's video.

More information:

Pekka Murto, Heavy Metal project coordinator,, +358 50 383 4649

Pirita Posti, Manager, Partnership Services,, +358 50 364 6381