Whether you are a business leader, designer, or entrepreneur, Design in Context offers insights into the strategic application of design for business growth and innovation. By integrating context-based design into your strategic planning, you can unlock new possibilities, create transformative solutions, and position your organization for sustained success.

     Over my career, I’ve observed common patterns of fear, blind spots, and paralysis that frequently lead companies adrift, regardless of their size and despite best intentions. These patterns often present themselves in the questions I hear clients asking:

Design in Context
A Framework for Strategic Differentiation
by Todd Bracher
Page count: 296 pages
Format: 6 × 9 inches
Published by  Compendium Editions.

What is the best way to differentiate my product or service from the competition?

How can we innovate to maintain a competitive edge in a rapidly changing market?

What strategies can we implement to ensure sustainable growth and resilience against economic fluctuations?

In what ways can we enhance our adaptability to respond quickly to consumer demands and technological advancements?

How can we modernize our offerings without compromising our brand’s authenticity?

A comprehensive guide exploring the transformative power of strategic design and innovation. Drawing on over two decades of experience with business leaders, private equity operators, and the venture capital ecosystem, Bracher provides readers with insights and tools to leverage design as a fundamental driver of business success.
     In this book, Bracher delves into the essence of design expertise, emphasizing the critical distinction between vendors and expert practitioners. He introduces the concept of contextual designers, who apply design thinking comprehensively to impact entire organizations, systems, and industries. Through detailed discussions and real-world examples, Bracher illustrates how recognizing and leveraging design expertise can transform opportunities and drive meaningful change.


We explore the importance of design expertise and how it can be used for strategic differentiation. Design in Context emphasizes that design should be used throughout an organization, and that a contextual approach to design and innovation are crucial for achieving successful design.

Design as Expertise

Understand the vital role of design expertise in amplifying and transforming business opportunities. Learn to differentiate between vendors and contextual designers, and discover how to harness the full potential of design expertise for your organization.

Meeting the Need

Explore the importance of understanding and addressing market needs as the foundation of innovation. Bracher emphasizes the need for empathy, curiosity, and analytical thinking to uncover the true desires and frustrations of consumers.


Discover the critical role of alignment in achieving synergy within an organization. Learn how design can bridge gaps between different departments, ensuring that the final product or service is a visionary execution rather than a compromised solution.

The Context for Innovation

Shift your focus from the "what" to the "why" of design. Bracher explains how understanding and shaping the context within which design takes place is key to unlocking genuine innovation.


Dive into the practical aspects of innovation by understanding the variables that define the context. Learn how a high fidelity in understanding these variables leads to more accurate and predictable outcomes.

Efficiency of Outcomes

Embrace the principle of "nothing extra, nothing less" in design. Discover how achieving a balance of variables ensures that every component of your strategy or design is essential, leading to optimal and effective outcomes.


Design in Context goes beyond theory, offering a deeper understanding of design thinking through insightful dialogues with renowned figures in innovation, design, and business. These conversations feature leaders like Michael Bierut of Pentagram, who explores the bridge between design and business success, and Mickey Beyer-Clausen of Timeshifter, who delves into design as a driving force for innovation. By including these thought leaders, the book offers a rich tapestry of perspectives on design thinking and its strategic applications, along with real-world examples and case studies that bring the concepts to life.

Michael Bierut (Pentagram): Discusses the intersection of design and business.

Mickey Beyer-Clausen (Timeshifter): Explores design as a driver of innovation.

Byron Trotter (3M): Talks about translating design into impactful business solutions.

Fred Maxik (NASA): Examines the scientific approach to design.

Tyler Norwood (Antler): Looks at design as an investment strategy.

Kate Eichhorn (The New School): Discuss the social impact of design.