LONDON: A proliferation of touchpoints means that brands are having to reconsider how they engage with consumers and add value to those interactions, with service design emerging as a new discipline aimed at achieving that goal.

According to Dan Harris, director at service design agency Fjord, "service design is about fusing a brand's 'top down' commercial value-driven perspective – what it stands for, what customers can expect from it – with 'bottom-up' emotionally-driven insight into more fundamental human motivation and needs".

Writing in Marketing, he explained that design creativity could help brands "rethink their entire ecosystem" and develop ways to be useful to consumers that went beyond the original product or service.

Nike, for example, was enabling consumers to become better athletes through its Nike+ Fuelband.

As Paul Kemp-Robertson of Contagious Communications noted in Market Leader: "The brand has created a community of advocates who regard Nike as a health and wellbeing partner, providing useful services and tools. The Nike+ FuelBand becomes an integral part of their daily lives."

Similarly, British Gas has moved beyond a role as a mere utility service with the introduction of its Hive Active Heating system, which allows smartphone monitoring and control of temperature and heating from outside the house.

Kemp-Robertson further observed that when Delta Airlines had come out of bankruptcy the entire company, including the marketing department, had been converted to the principle of service design.

As a result it had changed its view of itself, from a travel brand to a destination brand, and had developed services such as an app to enable concerned passengers to track their bags at every point in the journey.

Service design, argued Harris, can help brands and organisation build a connection with consumers over the long term, creating services that grow with consumers' evolving needs by delivering value over time. That required marketers to broaden their use of data and personalise services more effectively.

"The risk for brands that don't embrace this approach is that a start-up will come along and do it better," he said.

Data sourced from Marketing, Market Leader; additional content by Warc staff