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Beautiful design in a B2B world

I find myself much more intrigued and inspired by design and behavioral responses to design than I was a year or two ago. Thumbing through a book by the fine folks at IDEO (like this), clicking through the innovation section of Businessweek.com or (of all things) walking through the washer and dryer section at Home Depot can distract me for days as I think about the power of design in everyday objects. I find it very odd that I can (and do!) consider a dryer beautiful or ask myself why I never thought of a washer that can hold six months of detergent (I hate handling detergent; I tend to spill it all over the place!).

This may seem like old news to those of you that work in the B2C world, but many of us in the B2B world usually don't hear phrases like 'beauty' or 'elegant interface' or 'I love it!' when we talk about proposed products, services or business models. Instead we talk about things like 'reduced total cost', 'improved workflows', 'integration' and 'value added'. Because we sell to a business, we tend to ignore the fact it is the people within the client organization that actually select, use and benefit from our offering.

Would beautiful industrial products and elegant business services drive an emotional response in our corporate customers' employees? Would that ultimately allow my company to sell more' or sell at a higher margin' to justify the investment in design? Would I even be able to sell the concept to my internal stakeholders? Would our organizational culture accept it? I don't know.

I'd like to hear your thoughts on 'beautiful' design in the B2B universe or your stories of driving a design ethos into your company culture. Cheers!

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