Aesthetics and Product Branding
Product Branding and Aesthetics Services
A Product Design Company has to achieve three primary objectives. It must create a product that functions (it must work, be ergonomic, be manufacturable, and be cost-effective). It must create an aesthetic that will turn a need-to-have device into a must-have device. And it must create an identity that will extend corporate branding across a broad market.
While the first of these is required for a product to exist, aesthetics and identity are critical to its success in the market. These are vital tools to grab the attention of potential customers, challenge competitors and increase market presence.
Aesthetics has been used for over a century to express a future-oriented vision, using new design elements to refresh and surprise. Identity and product branding is the incorporation of a particular set of these design elements. They link varied products from a single corporation or company into a single family of products.
Industrial designers are typically faced with three challenges when product branding is their primary objective. The first is maintaining a brand, the second is evolving a brand, and the third is creating a brand. Maintaining a product brand within a product or product line requires designers to creatively and artistically capture critical characteristics within the new product. Some of these characteristics are obvious, while others will require sensitivity and artistic interpretation. For example, product colors, graphics, and logos are apparent characteristics inherent in the product brand. However, other design elements include overall form, placement of controls, proportions of specific features, materials, and textures. Skillful interpretation of these variables can enhance the product brand. Inept design implementations will inevitably lead to disastrous results.
Companies periodically update their image by changing their logo or updating their product line. This process requires a controlled evolutionary transition from one style to another. If the new image is too radically different, branding continuity could be jeopardized. Industrial designers must be respectful of the corporate culture and legacy during this design process. New products or product lines must exhibit contemporary styling while preserving the corporate image. This delicate balance between tradition and innovation requires skillful design, sensitivity, and a high level of creativity.
Another concern is the replacement of a successful product brand design with an inferior one. A new product design should retain the same quality and aesthetics as its predecessor with enhanced visual impact. This objective is achieved by integrating key design elements of the established product brand with the contemporary design language.
Corporations recognize that product branding is an integral part of their marketing strategy. They have found that a comprehensive strategy with industrial designers will provide consistency and simplicity in communicating a new product to the consumer. Strong brands have an immediate advantage here. Great industrial designers listen to all individuals in the marketing department to gain a comprehensive understanding of the corporate culture, product brand, and customer perspective. This information is creatively mixed into the design process, which eventually generates dozens of unexpected options that are ultimately shared with the marketing team. Iterations of this cycle eventually lead to a design direction that synergistically defines the product brand.
The application of the branding process can be taken from product design to product packaging, promotions, and web design. Ultimately, it will enable all of its products to be associated with a successful corporation’s name. Apple’s iPhone, iPad, and iMac are good examples where a brand personality is presented. The term “design language” is often used to define the visual elements that represent a product. It’s the assembly of these elements that comprise the product brand. The design language is intended to arouse the senses by stimulating an emotional reaction. For example, some products are designed to look very trendy and specifically styled to be outdated within months. These products are usually stylish consumer products often targeted toward younger buyers. Examples include watches, sneakers, bracelets, and low-cost electronic devices. Conversely, more expensive, long-lasting products such as medical devices, analytical devices, expensive kitchen appliances are designed to remain stylish for as long as ten years or more. Many of these devices often become classics.
At Integrated Design Systems, we have some clients who wish to maintain a brand identity. Others have a different target audience. They choose to have their specific product fit more closely within a market segment which does not require a corporate association. These are choices a client can make in identifying a design path.
Corporate identity guidelines are intended to enhance the product brand by providing a design language for the design team. The application of corporate guidelines will usually require a specified use of color, logos, and some design elements; however, the choice of the corporate direction does not mean that creativity and innovation are lost. Any self-respecting identity program will require adherence to existing guidelines and reinterpretation or enhancements to the policies with each new design project. These will take the guidelines forward a step and provide a platform for the evolution of future designs. However, these same programs can also hinder creativity and innovation by discouraging unconventional thinking. Designers must be reminded to use the guidelines as a guide, not a doctrine.
And at the end of the day, quality and craftsmanship are part of the services we offer. We specify the application of all final finishes, detailing, and user interface. These will create the final touch for an appealing aesthetic and effective branding.