Should designers use their loaf and co-opt the consumer?

With regard to the ongoing debate in your letters pages about the redesign of Vogel’s bread by B&B Studio (News, DW 9 September), I firmly believe that consumer input can lead to more inspirational, not duller, brand design.

I agree with Dan Miles’ sentiments (’User input can lead to better, not duller design’, Letters, DW 7 October) that we should be pushing forward, or at least exploring new ways forward, when involving consumers in the creative process.

The issue is when and how should the consumer be brought in. In the case of Vogel, they were left to the very end of the process to say ’stop’ or ’go’ – quite a risk to the client which has spent so much. This traditional research approach is probably why Christian Barnett (’Want dull design? Just ask a crowd’, Letters, DW 23 September) feels that consumers are an unnecessary evil.

At Reach our approach is to ’collaboratively create’ with consumers at the beginning of the process to inform the brief. This, as Miles has also suggested, ensures the final creative solutions are far more effective and meaningful because of the clear direction.

When used as judge and jury of design concepts, consumer input can potentially stifle and derail creativity. It’s about time brand design adopted more innovative approaches to consumer involvement.
Mark Rylands, Creative director, Reach, by e-mail

Including consumers and, perhaps more importantly, shoppers in the design process is vital to ensure commercially successful designs. The debate should be about the methodology used, not whether these inputs are needed.

Traditional methods (ie focus groups) should have no place in the assessment of design because no consumer or shopper can voice their response to design without rationalising it.

The smart way to include consumers and shoppers in the design process is to measure their subconscious reactions. Several methods are available, but some, like brain scans, are cost- and time-prohibitive. However, there are others that give great objective guidance and suit the tight time-scales and budgets of the packaging design world. So stop asking the consumer to self-report what they ’think and do’, and start measuring the reality.
Berengere Cortade, Client director, Butterfly Cannon, by e-mail

As Vogel’s public relations and digital agency, we couldn’t help noticing the coverage of Vogel’s bread. While we wouldn’t like to comment on the packaging, as it was not our work, we feel obliged to point out that the folks at Vogel’s have been excellent clients, committed to single-mindedness and creativity, and have allowed us to do some great work.

The proof, though, is in the pudding (or the loaf, in this case) so why not see for yourself.

Check out the new website at www. vogelsbread.co.uk.
The Vogel’s Team at Bray Leino, by e-mail

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