CBI: Become Chinese McKinsey in Design Field (CBi Featured by Design Magazine)

Recently, Our President and Founder, Cathy Huang met with Design magazine in an interview to talk about the development of CBi. Below is the full content:
Interview By  Design  Editors: Yaohua Li and Yuzhen Li
Since 2003 CBi have been developing their working philosophy, which is based on a combination of the ancient Chinese theory of Wu Xing and modern western management. Their mantra is Observe, Learn, Ask, and Interact. Following it helps them empower internal process and positively impacts on areas such as customer relations, sales, design research, creativity and overall strategy.

PROJECT NAME: Mobile phone for the visually impaired


DESIGN PROCESS: Understanding target users ------ Defining the problem ------ Proposal

PRODUCT ADVANCMENT AND UNIQUENESS : Incorporating the 'Jiu Gong'(Nine Palace) pattern as interface, this device integrates the menu information and user interface into a three times three grid of nine dots. The cross over the centre dot extending to the four corners of the grid guides the user to accurately find the control points. The output of the information depends on the position of the user's fingers and its movement, therefore providing 'Jiu Gong' mobiles with a far better user experience than existing products in this area.

PROJECT REVIEW: A user centred mobile device designed for the visually impaired, providing a much simpler and fun way to communicate and acquire information.

PROJECT NAME: Product design strategy differentiation

DESIGN PROCESS: Brand positioning and decoding

DNA------Decoding the brand DNA through design language. We've come to an agreement with our client on project research methods and constructed a detailed execution plan. According to the clients requests we will analyse their brand to find their strengths, weaknesses and opportunities in order to generate a product strategy.

PRODUCT ADVANCMENT AND UNIQUENESS: The design strategy developed from a clear understanding of the brand DNA helped the client better understand their current status and future expectations, better improving their strategy, management, judgment and future planning, and at the same time improving the communication between their design, marketing and sales departments.

PROJECT REVIEW: Based on the clear and in-depth understanding of current products on the market we helped our client to generate a clear design strategy and establish a more recognizable brand.

  PROJECT NAME: Chinese child shoes market research


DESIGN PROCESS: Primary research------in-depth discussions------accompanying consumptions------digging. Through analysing the user's lifestyle, child characteristics, consumption behaviours and user behaviours we concluded the stimulating points for sales and translated these findings into design directions.

PROJECT REVIEW: We defined the Chinese child shoes market by 6 points: price, colour, style, maintenance, size and function, helping our clients to better and more clearly understand the connection between design and service, therefore realizing a strategy for development. Our clients have already implemented our strategy in product manufacture and received great results.

DESIGN vs. Cathy Huang
DESIGN: What was the background of CBi's (China Bridge) founding?

Huang Wei: I used to work at GE before I founded CBi (China Bridge), at that time my title was marketing supervisor. First I would like to thank GE for giving me this opportunity, using my designer background to do marketing, this made it easy for me to communicate with our clients, to gain a better trust; but on the other hand GE's planning deferred a lot from my expectations. I hope to be able to control the quality of the projects after receiving them, that's why I decided to start CBi(China Bridge).

DESIGN: Why did CBi in its earlier stages choose to be set up at a high end office building at Heng Long square instead of a creativity park?

Huang Wei: This has to de with CBi's positioning, I don’t want the company to give the impression to be 'founded by an artist or designer', so the office can't be based at a creativity park. We should be in the same high end office building as companies such as McKinsey and PricewaterhouseCoopers.

DESIGN: What stage of development is CBi currently experiencing?

Huang Wei: At the beginning of 2003 when the company was just founded, I was pleased with a small team 4 to 5 people and without the target of achieving something big. It was until one of my core members was leaving that I started to change my idea; I understood that the solution to lighten the impact of human resources leaving was to increase the scale of the business, so we've now developed to a team of around thirty people with the hope to become larger in the future.

DESIGN: What is the main tactic and target for CBi in the next three to five years?

Huang Wei: Our position in design from beginning to now has always bean design research and design strategy, never changed. I hope in the future CBi can develop naturally.

DESIGN: What was the greatest challenge for CBi throughout its development?

Huang Wei: Talent, can't find the right person. I believe talents are the blood debt of this industry, no matter design firms, or design departments of large corporations we are all grabbing talents. This drives the increase of expected salary by talents making it difficult for design firms to compete with large companies.

DESIGN: In CBi's collaboration with different companies, what is the main challenge restricting the cooperation? Do you have any suggestions toward resolving these problems?

Huang Wei: I've met with very few restrictions, maybe its due to my experience from working in the design centre of a large consultancy, so I know what clients are thinking, their thoughts and taboos I understand very well. I have very rich working experience, I've not only worked for a large domestic company Haier, but also an international company GE; not only have I done solid design work, but also marketing. This resulted in my smooth collaboration with clients. If to talk about the difficulty of working with clients, then it should be the explaining of what our company does and its characteristics at the beginning of every project, to our target clients it very easy to explain what we do, but for others sometimes it can be difficult, I've almost given up.

DESIGN: In you opinion, in the future of China which area's brands will best benefit from design services and increase its value.

Huang Wei: I think design itself is creating new markets and new possibilities, not just increasing brand value.

DESIGN: In the industry, who would you consider as your target or role model?

Wei Huang: I wish to become the McKinsey of China. We hope to use our management and marketing knowledge to develop the position of design as an industry, generating the transformation from technical and intuitional to strategic and scientific.

User centred electronic products

Under the guidance of our design philosophy, through design thinking, achieving creative divergent design, to gain preliminary concepts, and after layers of selection we concluded the final design; at the same time we incorporate our consumer research and company observations, using business thinking to construct a brand strategy. In the end developing a product which reflects the users needs and also the client's brand qualities.

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