Herman Miller – Where Branding and Design lead to Innovation and Employee Engagement

August 10, 2013 — Leave a comment

Herman Miller is one of the most respected brands and innovative design companies in the world. Herman Miller seamlessly integrates design into the essence of their brand. At Herman Miller design matters. In fact, its design or die. For Herman Miller, Brand Design is not an after thought in the process– it is the central thought.

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Herman Miller is an iconic furniture maker, responsible for a suite of cutting-edge products designed to improve the office work environment. Herman Miller was founded in 1923 in Zeeland, Michigan by D.J. De Pree and Herman Miller.

By the middle of the 20th century, the name Herman Miller had become synonymous with “modern” furniture. Working with legendary designers George Nelson and Charles and Ray Eames, the company produced pieces that would become classics of industrial design. George Nelson is responsible for creating a design philosophy at Herman Miller that lives today. Nelson believed that good design is honest, an integral part of business, and that a market exists for it.

Herman Miller has collaborated with some of the top designers in the world, including Alexander Girard, Isamu Noguchi, Robert Propst, Bill Stumpf, Don Chadwick, Ayse Birsel, Studio 7.5, Yves Béhar and Doug Ball.

Herman Miller’s mission is to strive to create a better world around you—with inspiring designs and inventive services that enhance the places where people work, heal, learn and live, and through its commitment to social responsibility. Their goal is to design a better world around you. The Herman Miller approach is to focus on problem solving design. They learn as much from their failures as their successes. While it’s known for its furniture, Herman Miller considers itself a set of problem solvers. When a new product is considered, it is common for employees from all areas of the company to collaborate on creating design and production solutions. In this way, employees become personally connected to the company’s products.

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The company believes that its employees are Brand Ambassadors and critical to building the brand. The brand culture is guided by the following aspirations:

  • Curiosity and Exploration – taking risks and learning from mistakes
  • Engagement – working together to understand problems and develop solutions
  • Relationships – good relationships with customers, designers, dealers, suppliers and contractors are the basis of their worldwide network
  • Inclusiveness – we respect all expressions of human talent and potential. We value the unique perspectives, qualities, and contributions of every person in our community.
  • Design – our method for solving problems. It involves asking, looking, thinking, daydreaming, discussing, tinkering, failing, and trying again. It’s messy, but it works.
  • Foundations – the people, stories and experiences of our past give us a strong foundation for building our future
  • Performance – Not a choice. We perform at the highest level of our individual and collective capabilities, every day. 
  • Transparency – We let each other see how decisions get made. We take responsibility for the decisions we make.
  • A Better World – The opportunity to contribute to a better world makes our work meaningful and rewarding.

This focus on employee engagement has resulted in Herman Miller being recognized for a number of awards. In 2010, Herman Miller was one of only six companies to make Fortune’s list of “100 Best Companies to Work For”, Fortune’s Most Admired list and Fast Company’s “Fast 50” most innovative companies. Herman Miller seems like a great brand and company to work for.

The Aeron chair is one of Herman Miller’s most popular products. It was designed in 1994 by Don Chadwick and Bill Stumpf. Its design has a spot in the Museum of Modern Art’s permanent collection. The Industrial Designers Society of America named it one of the “Designs of the Decade for the 1990’s. The Aeron chair was very popular during the dotcom heyday in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s. Internet companies ordered them by the truckload. In late 2000, the company was taking order for 20,000 to 30,000 per week.

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In the early 2000’s, Herman Miller saw sales decline following the dot-com bubble. The company turned its fortunes around by focusing on innovative brand design that helped solve consumer problems.

Do you own any Herman Miller furniture?

 
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