Crafting a customer-led strategic vision

We have hit the ground running pretty hard for the first week, and this week is no different. But don’t worry, there will be some lighter weeks on the horizon.

1. Who are the customers of your chosen business?

This week we will be focusing on identifying the different customers or market segments that make up your chosen business, identifying the highest value customer/s and conducting research on these customers. You would have indirectly been thinking and learning about the customer groups through your business research, so now we will flesh this knowledge out a little further.

• It is not required to conduct first hand research on your selected company, but it is great to have access to individuals that represent your key segment, if possible.

Pro Tip: check out IBISWorld as they often have market trends and information about the consumers in your industry

Activity: Conduct secondary research into the nature of the customer market/s related to your business

Readings: n/a

2. Should your business sustain current customers or explore different customer cohorts?

Often the fundamental mission of a business is to try and capture as many markets as possible, as an increase in market share = increase in revenue, profits and shareholder value. However, strategic companies focus on future customers and/or current segments that may have a greater customer lifetime value within a desired time objective (2–3 years or 5–10). This means that while your business may not see an immediate return on investment on a particular customer segment, they have forecasted (using multiple data points) that this segment will provide long-term financial value and commitment. This is exceptionally tricky to do right- and many middle managers prefer to stick with what is known. It is your job as a strategic designer to make a compelling case for your selected customer segment.

Activity: Identify and justify your chosen customer cohort/s. How do they differ from existing segments (if at all)? Why have you chosen these segments (what is the strategy/justification in doing so?) Provide a few key data points to support your decision, and the proposed future value.

Readings: (a basic page, but it has all of the fundamentals)

3. What does your selected segment look like? What do they desire and need?

This is where we get into persona mode. Create a persona based on your chosen customer segment. There could be multiple archetypes within the same segment, so select a personality and why. Personas should read as if people feel like that it is portraying a real person. I often prefer to write mine as the character, but many others provide just a narrative. See the resources below for some good references on persona profiles.

Pro tip: Don’t worry about doing very detailed personas. As long as it conveys values, needs, goals, and shows a little about their psychographics/personality, this will suffice. Service Design students- you guys can share some of the personas you did for your subject, too!


Create a persona for your chosen customer segment. If possible, conduct a few conversations with real people if you have access within your network and if they fit your chosen profile/s. Are there any core customer principles that your business must abide by? Capture any that surface- these may feed back into your vision statement or underpin your overarching objective.

As an extra: try to transform the most pressing principles into ‘How might we’s’ to help you ideate on core themes and needs for our next package.


4. Capture ideas as insights emerge

As you conduct your customer research, and think about your business, naturally some ideas will begin to surface. Capture all of these! Write them down on post-its, keep them short and snappy, this is to get you started on the next package, and to remember that design is never waterfall or linear, but iterative, adjacent and messy. Aim for 5 rough ideas to unpack later.

Pro tip: Don’t get into refined solutions or feasibility mode just yet! Simply focus on capturing your ideas as you conduct your research in prep for the next package of work

5. Identify design principles

What did you learn about the market, and your chosen segment? Are there particularities or characteristics of this segment reflected in their needs, goals and behaviours with your chosen business? Turn these insights into design principles. These principles will not only assist with updating your strategic vision, but will also assist with your design development. Aim for a minimum of 3 and no more than 5 principles.

6. It all starts with a vision

So you have a bunch of information on your business, its recent performance, mission, possible threats, opportunities its customers…now what? At this point we will craft a succinct ‘vision statement’ — one to two sentences that epitomize the direction the company wishes to go, informed by customer research.

Thus, when creating vision statement, think of the business goals and what they may want, or should, change. Are they meeting their goals? Redefine the existing objectives and/or mission statements of your business, into a customer-led vision statement. This is another way that strategic design differs from traditional strategy, it is informed by direct customer research.

Your vision statement will frame the scope of your project and provide the direction for your design outcome. The design itself is where the details of how to achieve your vision will unfold. Identify what high-level key metric(s) might be used or implied in your statement, ensure it is outcome orientated. For example: is your strategic vision focused on growth, innovation, or cost-out performance?

Pro tip: ensure your vision statement captures one or two key words that imply a measure. This will help to identify particular metrics of success of your design solution, and assist with design development.

Activity: Create a vision statement


Strategic Design, pp.24–28

Design thinking, lean and agile, pp.20–26