How Airbnb & Nike Used Design Thinking Frameworks

How Airbnb & Nike Used Design Thinking Frameworks-feature image
June 4, 2024 5 Min read

Solving a problem is one aspect. However, understanding how to solve it, is another. So, Design Thinking offers several frameworks that act as a roadmap to solve your problems creatively using a user-centric approach.

Prominent brands like Airbnb and Nike also leveraged Design Thinking to improve their customer experiences. We will later learn about their story in the following article.

But, first its time to see some of the most popular Design Thinking Frameworks below: 

Head, Heart and Hand by the American Institution of Graphic Arts (AIGA)  

The Head, Heart, and Hand methodology by AIGA (American Institute of Graphic Arts) offers a complete view of design while bringing emotion, intellect, and practicality into it. Let’s see how: 

Head: symbolizes the intellectual component of creative thinking.  

Here, you engage your intellect and focus on the cognitive part of Design Thinking, where strategic thinking helps problem-solving. 

Heart: symbolizes the emotional aspect and empathy.  

In this, you connect deeply with your users’ needs to infuse empathy into designing solutions that completely resonate with them. 


Hand: symbolizes performing the practical execution of ideas. 

Simply put, this step requires you to convert creative ideas into feasible solutions. This also requires tools and techniques to execute ideas. 

The Double Diamond by the Design Council

The Double Diamond is a popular Design Thinking framework created by the British Design Council.

In the first diamond, we embark on the journey of “Discover” and “Define.” In the “Discover” stage, we collect feedback from users to gain insights on them. 

Next comes the “Define” stage where we analyze our insights and shape them into clear problem-statements that would guide us further in the procedure. 

But this process does not stop here! 

In the second diamond, we encounter the “Develop” and “Deliver” stages. The “Develop” stage is a type of creative space where we generate plenty of ideas (with each having success possibilities).  

And finally, in the “Deliver” stage, we create multiple prototypes and test them to find the best possible solution that could address the stated problem. 

Inspire, Ideate, Implement by IDEO 

Design Thinking Frameworks prominent design

IDEO is a prominent design consultancy and created its own Design Thinking framework Inspire, Ideate, Implement. Let’s see what each word signifies: 

  • Inspire: This stage involves immersing yourself in your users’ world, understanding their needs and behaviours via observations, feedback, and interviews.
  • Ideate: Next, you can process the insights collected in the first stage, to arrive at the core problem. Brainstorm multiple ideas to develop creative solutions that drive innovation and would help solve the problem.
  • Implement: Implementation stage is all about turning your creative ideas into multiple prototypes. Further, it involves consistent testing and refining prototypes based on the users’ feedback to arrive at a desired solution.

How Global Brands are Implementing Design Thinking 

Now that we have learnt so much about Design Thinking, the next question is to see whether any brand has incorporated Design Thinking to innovate their products and create value for their customers. Some of the most popular case studies include Airbnb and Nike. Let’s dive into them.

1. Airbnb


Overview: Initially, Airbnb was on the edge of bankruptcy but emerged as a great online platform with a valuation in the billions. Just by following Design Thinking principles, Airbnb made a huge success. 

How They Did This?  

Airbnb struggled to monetize its platform due to some issues that they were unable to figure out initially. Later, they switched to Design Thinking to understand the root cause and for that, they designed a questionnaire and collected user feedback. 

From the feedback, they realized a major flaw in the quality of the images used in their listings due to poor camera quality of smartphone. 

Therefore, users were hesitant to book the rooms as they were uncertain about what they were booking. To solve this issue, Airbnb started sending their representatives to New York to capture high-quality photographs. This approach helped the company to double its revenue within a few weeks. 

2. Nike


Overview: Nike wanted to innovate in their footwear design to address the diverse needs of athletes and reduce the environmental impact and production costs. But its previous business approach did not help them much. Then, they shifted to Design Thinking to create their footwear.  

How They Did This? 

By gathering feedback from their customers, they found out that the existing footwear had breathability issues and was quite bulky to wear.  

Nike explored different materials, manufacturing techniques, and design approaches to create footwear that is lightweight, breathable, and properly designed.  

The newly created footwear was tested in the real-world conditions by multiple sportsmen to gather feedback on breathability and durability.

Wrapping Up

While Design Thinking is an excellent framework to enhance processes and bring innovation, many companies still struggle to implement it within their organizations. Major reasons could include a lack of understanding of the approach, resistance to change from existing workflow, and a notion that Design Thinking can only be used by design-focused industries.

As a result, failing to practice Design Thinking might lead to reduced competitiveness, missed opportunities for innovation, and lack of user-centric solutions.

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Retro Read: Empathy to Execution: A Practical Journey through Design Thinking Stages

Written by Namrata Samal

Namrata is a skilled content writer with an expertise in writing marketing, tech, business-related topics, and more. She has been writing since 2021 and has written several write-ups. With her journey with Techjockey, she has worked on different genres of content like product descriptions, tech articles, alternate pages,... Read more

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