Keeping control of creativity is the key to successful product design

New product design is as much a structured process as manufacturing, according to Geoff Prissman, director and co-founder of Slo-Jo, creator of tailor-made taste sensations for South Africa’s leading restaurant chains


Many industries see manufacturing to be a very process-driven side of their business, preferring to leave the research and development teams to explore unfettered, charting new territory without any restrictions on their imaginations, their creativity, or their inspiration.

I totally disagree with this approach. I believe that successful creative development only takes place within structured, systematic parameters put in place with a clear strategy in mind. If you don’t have these in place, you’re setting your creatives – and your company – up for failure.

If you set creative minds loose without any guidance on what you want them to achieve, they’re likely to fall short of your expectations, with their creative endeavours consigned to the trash heap time and again. There’s no more sure-fire way to break a creative’s spirit than to have the fruits of their labours trashed repeatedly. They’re likely to lose faith in their skills, which will in turn negatively impact their capacity to create magical things.

For this reason, it’s important to give your creative team a clear brief, some parameters to work within, and some broad brushstrokes about what you want to achieve. Then unleash them, giving them the freedom to explore their ideas to give you the solution that you need. They may even give you something more than you asked – but it will still be within the ballpark of what you – or your client – intended.

I use this approach with our team of taste architects. We collaborate closely with our clients to create a broad concept that will fit with their brand personality, with their menus, and with the taste profiles most dominant among their clientele. The creative team also works closely with the manufacturing side of the business, so that they can understand the possibilities and limitations of the production process.

Our creative team then works within all of those parameters to create a product that hits the sweet spot of great taste, appealing presentation and an appropriate price point – within the timeframe required. What’s more, our creative team is inspired by their success, and ready to rise to the next challenge.

We’ve learned over the years that product research and development needs to be done intelligently, with a focus on goals. Entering into the process with anything less shows a lack of respect for the creatives in your business – and a lack of awareness of what it really takes to build a range of success products that will be profitable for you and for your customers.