Exactly WHY do some companies outsell their competitors by ten to one…and at premium prices? Usually, it’s because their products resonate with, and are highly desired by, their customers. Plus, these buyers are willing to pay the bigger price tag for a brand name product.
These products have earned a branded reputation for a number of reasons, all of which can be summarized in one word: IMPACT.
Products with strong brand-name recognition make an impact and connection with their target audience. Product branding describes the marketing strategy that establishes a strong preference and allegiance for a particular product versus the competition. These associations have been carefully crafted to reinforce a recognizable image, and inspire demand, within a loyal customer base.
Successful product branding strategies require a well-coordinated marketing plan plus an equally well-designed product that distinguishes itself from the competition. In addition to marketing and design, other factors are also critical. These include high quality, reliability, high performance and perceived value. Products with high marks in all these categories command higher prices when customers are aware of the marketing, advertising and PR.
Most products, however, are designed to be easily manufactured at an affordable price, and primarily to perform basic functions. Most manufacturers are satisfied if their products simply conform to the most fundamental requirements.
Product specifications provide product design engineers and project managers with a recipe for designing a product that simply functions. This formula is adequate when there is no competition. But what happens when competitors enter the market? Prices and profits drop while market share and sales volumes are sliced up among the competitors.
Product Design Connects with Brand Recognition
At this point, companies must either alter their marketing strategy or eventually drop out of the business. Successful marketing strategies are based on an identifiable brand, including the benefits of great product design.
Well-planned branding programs coordinate and integrate several concepts. These include product style, details, color and proportions…all designed to reinforce brand recognition. Talented designers must interpret abstract concepts expressed by marketing into tangible forms that deliver the technical requirements of the product.
Sophisticated designs typically express products with a personality and character that are consistent with the brand. If, for example, the brand is attempting to convey durability and masculinity, the designer will work with several elements. These include the overall form, hardware, colors and graphics. Designers for products targeting sporting goods, cleaning products or toys, etc., must interpret similar considerations.
Successful designs and product branding programs are often recognized when copycat versions of the product flood the market soon after it has been introduced. An example of a highly successful and acclaimed product is the Yeti Cooler that revitalized an otherwise saturated market. Yeti’s introduction of its high-quality product quickly proved to be a major success story. And just as quickly the marketplace was awash with a wave of copycat products.
The big idea here is that in a product introduction the designer must think beyond its basic function and cost. Think about that product as part of a mosaic of factors forming an image that creates IMPACT in the marketplace. With this perspective, you can position your product far ahead of your competitors. The benefits include higher profits and respect as a leader in your industry.