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Designing for a sustainable future

How a Swiss electronics company reinvented itself by adopting an environmental-first mindset

Designing for a sustainable future

Logitech is well-known for its consumer electronic products and video conferencing solutions, but it is more than that. It is on a mission to become a truly design-led company, by considering intelligent use of design across all aspects of its business, from products to internal processes.

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President and CEO Bracken Darrell explains that in 2020, you can’t be a design-led company without prioritizing sustainability, because it is the right thing to do, and increasingly, customers care about it. The Swiss company has been quietly ramping up its sustainability efforts for more than a decade. The company is finding ways to reduce the environmental impact of its products, across the entire lifecycle, with the understanding that sustainability advances are as important as technology breakthroughs. Using carbon offsets, it has made its gaming products, as well as company travel, carbon neutral; and it is committed to 100% renewable electricity across the company by 2030.

More than mice

It may not be glamorous, but redesigning packaging to be more eco-friendly is a quintessential example of intelligent use of design, explains Chief Design Officer Alastair Curtis. Logitech is constantly innovating to reduce the size and weight of its packaging and to find ways to use plastic alternatives. Last year, these efforts reduced the carbon footprint of certain packaging ranges by 19 to 54 percent, compared to previous product generations.

This achievement is part of a 35-year history of innovation, which includes designing one of the first commercial mice in 1982, and the first cordless mouse in 1984. Last year, it released its new G502 Lightspeed Wireless Gaming Mouse, which is faster than wired and has infinite battery life, making it an ideal choice for serious gamers, says Darrell. The company has also made a name for itself in the video conferencing space. In 2017, it released MeetUp, a camera designed for smaller spaces. Curtis says the product became a “gold standard for video collaboration,” and a jumping-off point for an entire generation of products.

A culture of design

Curtis notes that all innovations—from keyboards to headsets, speakers to iPad accessories—are designed to delight and surprise consumers and solve real problems. They also reflect clearly articulated design principles, which also inform the culture. Every employee is constantly looking for ways to re-design or improve the ways things are done. Designers oversee entire products, rather than working on piecemeal product components, which creates a sense of pride and ownership. And although Logitech is a multi-brand, global business, it operates like a loosely-connected network of small teams.

Logitech ranks seventh in the Design category on Fast Company’s 2020 list of Most Innovative Companies.

Not every idea is a gamechanger, but “failure” is a dirty word to Darrell. Some of his favorite projects were market flops, because he sees the value in the team learning from those experiences. A true design company is in a constant state of redesign, continually improving everything from product experiences, to internal processes, to environmental impacts. This is the type of company Darrell, Curtis, and their teams are building, and this is the type of company that earns a spot on Fast Company‘s Most Innovative Companies list. By focusing on design, Logitech is positioning itself for the next 35 years of innovation and paving the way to a more sustainable future.

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FastCo Works is Fast Company's branded content studio. Advertisers commission us to consult on projects, as well as to create content and video on their behalf.

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