Industrial Design and The Branding Mad Men
It’s about time, the (M)Ad Men figured that out. Well they sort of did before and there always been Industrial Designers in advertising and branding. But much of the focus then was on packaging design, and Industrial Design was often seen as nothing more than skinning.
Core77 has a pretty good article called “Stepmothers of Invention: Branding Firms Enter the Industrial Design Fray“. While the article comes across a little wishy-washy at times as the author tries to play both sides, the central message is clear:
“…branding and ID are different sides of the same coin. We’re both satisfying the needs of the customer.” ~ John Winsor, Crispin Porter + Bogusky.
I have another take on this:
Design is the silent ambassador of your brand. ~ Paul Rand
Basically, nothing shouts your brand more than your logo/product/graphic/interface design. Therefore, designers need to understand the important role branding plays in Industrial Design, correction, in Strategic Design.
This is but one aspect of the design strategy that we need to consider before we start designing. In other words, one of the ingredients we would need so that the entire dish (or product) can come out right.
I’m no expert in branding, but this basic credo has always stuck with me, “branding is all about the product”. In today’s emphasis in authentic branding, the focus should be about the product or idea, and not the the other way around. Just look at Viao, iPhone and Playstation! Even better, if you want to build a great authentic brand ground up, build it around a product such as James Dyson did.
For something as focused and well-defined as a brand-building product design, hiring a few skilled designers to extend your service list can potentially work out, because the problem is so specific. When we look for examples of “authentic,” “innovative” design, however, we’re almost always looking at a different sort of team. The current poster children of innovation-spawned market success–the Wii, the iPhone, the Flip video camera–emerged from large groups of researchers, designers, engineers, programmers and manufacturing specialists who worked together for a long time, and knew both their brand and the applicable technologies intimately. This type of work cannot be emulated by assembling a team or hiring an agency and handing them a brand bible, no matter how good they are at their jobs.
However I’m quite please that the article got it right in the end. Many companies, not just the “poster children” have engaged such great development teams. Perhaps some more successful than others.
Now, that my friends, is what Strategic Design is all about. Welcome to the club!