Design Philosophy

IBMers believe in progress—that by applying intelligence, reason and science we can improve business, society and the human condition.

Given our scale and scope, good design is not just a requirement, it’s a deeper responsibility to the people we serve and the relationships we build.

Design is how
we build bonds.

Today, as with technology, the talent, techniques, thinking and tools of design have become more and more abundant and accessible to all.

At the same time, decisions have become more distributed and experiences less and less distinctive. The rapid, relentless pressure to produce is creating an uneven emphasis on immediacy and incrementalism over individuality and innovation.

It is more important than ever that we own our own ethos, make palpable our brand values, and incorporate an instantly identifiable IBMness in everything we do.

Without aesthetic, design is either the humdrum repetition of familiar clichés or a wild scramble for novelty. Without aesthetic, the computer is but a mindless speed machine, producing effects without substance, form without relevant content, or content without meaningful form.

– Paul Rand

Aesthetic is defined as the philosophical theory or set of principles governing outward appearance or actions. This characteristic, while subtle in its application, is essential to the effectiveness of any experience. Everything we do (and don’t do) communicates. We must put care and craft into every experience if we expect any confidence or consideration in return.

Good design is always good design.

What we borrow from our own design history is not a mid-century aesthetic in stylistic terms, but the modernist attitudes and approach used at the time.

Eliot Noyes taught us that brand is character, and should be built through curation. Paul Rand taught us the importance of endless experimentation. Charles and Ray Eames brought out our playful nature, and were pioneers of what is now referred to as “branded content” and “experiential.”

Their methods are as modern today as ever before—maybe more so.

Stand for =
Stand out

IBM has always served as a medium between mankind and machine, blending science, service and society to pave a path towards progress.

This relationship is the basis of our brand and every experience with IBM. It is this dynamic we seek to create when we design anything.

As IBMers, we believe the purpose of every design and every designer is to guide, to lead, to provoke, to provide, to progress, and to move people forward both emotionally and functionally. Through big transformations and day-to-day tasks, we help them get from here to there to deliver peak professional performance and smarter business by design.

Think → Guide

Like our brand values, our design ethos must be palpable in everything we produce. Our philosophy and principles are for designers and non-designers alike–anyone authoring or authorizing any form of design on behalf of IBM.

They provide clear criteria for the conception, creativity and craftsmanship our brand demands and our clients deserve. The expression of our philosophy may evolve and expand over time, but our principles are designed to endure, ensuring everything IBM is distinctly IBM.

A by-product of every experience with IBM should be time—time saved or time well-spent.

Keep exploring
our approach

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Design thinking

Get familiar with how to apply the framework that drives how we think and work every day.

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Design services artwork
Design services

Let’s define your strategy, create exceptional experiences, and drive better business outcomes.

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