“Designers make values visible,” says Christiane Nicolaus, director of the Design Center of Baden-Württemberg, referring to brand values and valuing to connect brands and people. But do globally shared values truly exist? And how can communication be designed in a way that a brand is linked with similar positive experiences around the world?
For Peter Hofelich, state secretary in the Ministry of Finance and Economics of Baden-Württemberg, it is clear: certainly some values are understood throughout the world. ‘Made in Germany’, for example, stands for workmanship, quality and increasingly for sustainability and cooperative fairness. Here, a shared understanding of values – across industries, from global players to the middle class – results in a value proposition.
Values are measurable
So common values form the basis? The “Sustainable Apparel Coalition” is now working on their creation – from America to Asia – reports Kjersti Kviseth from 2025 Design for Life Cycles. As a consultant, she supports the clothing industry in defining measurable criteria for sustainability and transparency along the value chain using the so-called “Higg index”.
Numbers make virtues measurable and manageable. And benchmarks and values management pay off, Joachim Schöpfer from Serviceplan Corporate Reputation believes. After all, around a quarter of a company’s turnover depends on its good reputation. And this, in turn, results from a balance of economic strength, future ability and empathy.
As products are getting increasingly similar regarding their basic functions, values that enhance individual utility are gaining in importance. Gerhard Pfau of IBM Design, Gerhard Krämer from Siemens Healthcare and Nils-Clausen Stuck from designaffairs rely on “Design Thinking”. New solutions are thereby developed in interdisciplinary and cross-cultural teams aiming to achieve the best possible user experience.
Design makes values visible. Yet: To optimize the individual benefit across cultures, adjustments must often be made. International trend and market research helps in positioning in the best possible way in the tension field between standardization and differentiation, says Melanie Hartman, responsible for Strategic Research at Yanfeng Automotive Interiors in Neuss.
In addition, cooperation may be the key to a successful implementation. Stefan Grobe from Defortec and his partners in India and China, for example, help to free products from their country-specific image and make them internationally successful. Iris Laubstein, specialist in design management, gets it to the point: If productivity is the new profitability – is cooperation the new innovation?