Case Studies

Corporate Design Foundation case studies examine the integration of different areas of design with business. Used in business school courses across the country, the cases are an essential teaching tool for faculty interested in including design content in business school courses.

CDF invites faculty and other interested parties to examine our library of case studies. All cases are available in paper copies or as PDF's for $7.00 each with a $3.00 per copy copyright fee. To place an order, download the case_study_order_form and email, fax or mail it to us with all of the information completed. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Videos

  • Special Edition - Business Design Cases DVD *NEW
    This is a slightly edited version of The Business Edge teleconference broadcast. It includes previously recorded video case studies of 12 minutes in length on five companies which have exhibited exceptional design in achieving business success: Amtrak's Acela High Speed Train; Humanscale and the award winning Freedom Chair; IBM's corporate design program; OXO International, maker of Good Grips kitchen tools; and SEI Investments and its revolutionary office space. Following each case study there is commentary from expert panel including: Steve Eppinger, professor, MIT Sloan School of Management, Lee Green, director of corporate identity and design, IBM, Alan Webber, co-founding editor, FastCompany Magazine and Peter Lawrence, chairman, CDF. DVD includes printed transcript indicating case locations, 18p.
    Length: Approx 1hr. DVD format

  • Porsche: A Study in Design
    Video case study that documents design, branding and marketing at Porsche AG. The video explores the design history of Porsche, the decision to redesign the 911 model, and the design, development and introduction of the Boxster. The case study also examines the Porsche brand as expressed in print and commercial advertising. Features interviews with executives at Porsche AG and Rich Silverstein of Goodby, Silverstein & Partners.
    Length: 15min. VHS format



Cases

  • Au Bon Pain (A)
    This case explores issues of store design and development process in a Boston-based restaurant/bakery chain. The (A) case examines Au Bon Painis efforts to redesign its store concept and experience as it expanded nationally. A corporate history and dueling concepts are included and intended as discussion points. The case concludes with the choice made by management. The (B) case presents a related problem.
    Length: 25p.

  • Au Bon Pain (B)
    Explores issues of retail store design and development process in a Boston-based restaurant/bakery chain. The (B) case explores the problems faced in the design and development of a new soup station for Au Bon Pain stores. Students are directed to explore different concepts and designs for effective product delivery. This case is based on information introduced in case (A).
    Length: 4p.

  • Au Bon Pain Teaching Note
    Teaching note with supporting exercises for both Au Bon Pain (A) and (B) cases. Includes teaching strategies and lesson plans for a three-class assignment with extensive supporting materials and sample projects.
    Length: 27p.

  • The Cyclone Grinder
    Early in 1990, a quiet revolution occurred with the entry of Ingersoll-Rand's Cyclone Die Grinder into the marketplace. Weighted down with a product stuck in 2nd or 3rd place in the market and long development cycles, Ingersoll-Rand's Power Tool Division had produced a demonstrably superior tool in just over a year's time. This case details how Ingersoll-Rand used a team development approach including collaboration with a consultant industrial designer, for the first time, to create revolutionary innovation in a common industrial hand tool. Case makes extensive use of interviews and uses the words of company executives and the design firm principal to present the problems faced by Ingersoll-Rand, the work process of the designer-client relationship, and business and designer views of the resulting product.
    Length: 17 p.

  • Federal Express
    After more than a decade of explosive growth, Federal Express was experiencing strains placed on its brand image. With its rapid expansion overseas, Federal Express had to assess whether its image program communicated the same corporate attributes both home and abroad. A subsequent audit revealed inconsistencies in Federal Expresses brand image on signage, boxes, literature, brochures and posters. This case presents a service industry example of effective company-wide attention to design. Students are given a history of Federal Express, current business conditions and the role of design at Federal Express and then asked to come up with recommendations on next steps.
    Length: 27 p.

  • GE Identity Program (A)
    This series of cases concerns General Electric's 1985 effort to unify its various components under a single brand identity. The (A) case follows the process of redesigning the corporate identity of this huge multinational corporation from problem definition through option development. Specific attention is given to the work done by the design consultant, Landor, and their process of working with GE representatives. The (A) case can be taught with a focus on the importance of brand and identity, with students discussing the three options presented at the end of the case. The (B) case discusses the final results.
    Note: a companion video case study on GE Identity Program is available.
    Length: 6 p.

  • GE Identity Program (B)
    This series of cases concerns General Electric's 1985 effort to unify its various components under a single brand identity. The (B) case concludes the process of redesigning the corporate identity of this huge multinational corporation, discussing managementis decision and it reasoning. Space is devoted to explaining rationale behind its work and its implications on the GE brand image. This case concludes the management problem introduced in the (A) case.
    Note: a companion video case study on GE Identity Program is available.
    Length: 11 p.

  • IBM Proprinter
    This case portrays how an independent team at IBM, including industrial design, developed a product designed for automated robotic assembly which replaced the market leadership of Japanese imports. Students explore the design, development and manufacturing process of a family of printers and the culture that was spawned by the project team. This case presents the importance of team culture and organization to successful product development.
    Length: 30p.

  • INAX
    This case documents how a Japanese sanitary ware company used design to transform its industry from a commodity market to one driven by consumer preference. The five-year identity program was management's effort to anticipate and respond to the evolving business climate. This case provides a corporate history and overview of the program and asks students to consider appropriate next steps.
    Length: 32p.

  • Mallinckrodt Emergency Cleanup Kit
    This case illustrates how the redesign of a product's package and instructions provided the differentiation to overtake its competition with no technical changes to the product itself. Mallinckrodt dramatically improved their image in the market place and tripled their market share for this product after the redesign. Specific attention is paid to the collaboration with the design firm of Fitch RichardsonSmith.
    Length: 6p.

  • Motorola MicroTAC
    This case describes the central role of industrial design in the development of the first-generation cellular "flip-phones". In outlining the collaboration between industrial design and engineering, it presents how designers drove, rather than incorporated, the technological advancements which made the MicroTAC phone possible. This case provides a brief history of the cellular industry, an overview of product development at Motorola, analysis of the MicroTAC development and concludes with reflections on the product development process.
    Length: 11p.

  • Nike: Organizing for Innovation
    This case explores the evolution of the product development process at Nike and the issues involved a proposed corporate reorganization to emphasize the process. Nike needed to strengthen the organizational and strategic connection between marketing, merchandising, design and development while maintaining innovation through itis rapid corporate growth. How could Nike continue to expand while maintaining its consumer focus? This case includes management interviews as well as reactions to the proposed reorganiztion and can be used in a discussion about fostering creativity in a corporate setting.
    Length: 27p.

  • OXO (A)
    These cases illustrate the product development process in an entrepreneurial enterprise, OXO International, in which design plays in integral role. The (A) case describes the origins of the company, and the initial design research done to develop a rough business plan, and its relationship with its design partner, SmartDesign USA. After presenting all the pertinent information, the case ends asking students to define OXO's product goals. This case is also available in a disguised version, "Advanced Housewares, Inc." Case (B) discusses OXO's collaboration with SmartDesign and its results.
    Length: 3p.

  • OXO (B)
    These cases illustrate the product development process in an entrepreneurial enterprise in which design plays in integral role. The (B) case describes the product development process that produced the Good Grips line of kitchen tools. Particular attention is paid to SmartDesignis use of user-observation to develop these revolutionary implements. Students are asked how OXO can best take advantage of its superior design to expand into other areas? This case concludes problems presented in Case (A).
    Length: 11p.

  • OXO Teaching Note
    Teaching note with supporting exercises for both OXO (A) and (B) cases. Includes case overview, discussion questions, references and supporting materials.
    Length: 13p.

  • SEI Investments: Redesigning Business
    This case discusses how SEI Investments used the redesign of its office space to influence the culture of the organization. Focus is placed on company history and prior work processes, existing corporate culture and design of new space. This case asks students to explore how a company philosophy can be upheld or reinforced by its physical surroundings. Features interviews from CEO, senior management and architect.
    Note: The Business Edge Video features a companion video case study on SEI Investments.
    Length: 14p.