Why a Design System?

We have a graphic manual, why would we need a design system? And what’s the difference anyway?

A brief history of our visual identity.

To explain why we need a Design System we need to back the tape up a bit. Fagerhult was founded in 1945. By 2017 we were 3500 employees. In 2005 we did our first big visual identity change and really set the profile that we are using today. Since then, very little has been done to keep up with a fast changing world.

The graphics manual that we had basically contained a set (read: a big bunch) of rules describing how we are allowed to use colours, fonts, logotypes etc. This manual was only, if ever, opened by external agencies who needed a visual direction for upcoming projects however it held little or no importance to actual in-house designers and marketeers.

Introducing the Fagerhult Design System/Language

Nobody likes unproductive critic. With that in mind a set of guidelines for how we use things is not necessarily a bad thing. It can, if used correctly, create unity to the brand and with that a better experience for our customers. The difference between the old way we look at a Graphic Manual and a Design System is that the new way enables and encourages us to minimize time spent on doing the same thing over and over. With a solid, consistent, well explained and thought out system, the visual aspect of creating a design becomes totally modular. The main goal being to create focus and clarity for those who work with any aspect of Fagerhults graphic design.

Step 1. Where are we today?

Jumping into this we needed to se where we are today. We basically just started to do a graphic inventory of the different countries materials, what we do in our different online channels, how close we are to our actual visual identity. During research and interviews we noticed that the lack of consistency was massive. Basically the only thing that were consistent with the guidelines was the logotype, and even that was not used in the same or ”correct” way (according the the graphic manual).

This means at least some time of our design process goes to thinking about how to use the logotype. The equivalent to writing is testing if you’re supposed to use the tip of the pencil or the rubber-part every time you start writing (hint: it’s the tip). Even more time is spent on thinking on what font and colors to use. This added up creates a massive amount of time taken from the truly creative and fun part of the job.

Step 2. Where can we improve today?

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Step 3. So, now we’re done. Right?

This again, following the old pattern, is where we would’ve stoped. Which is weird, because the world doesn’t stop moving around us. We constantly evolve our products, our offer, our company - so why would our brand be any different? If we view our Design System as a product designed to create the best experience for our users, we must never stop evolving. We will continue to listen and iterate new and better functionality and features so that hopefully you, the end user, will come back for more.

We need your help to make this System Better, please, drop us a line at design@fagerhult.se.