Vox Pop

Product designer Clive Grinyer contends that product design has changed and that a product is now central to a company’s communication of its brand (DW 22 September). What are your thoughts on this idea?

‘I agree with Clive Grinyer’s comments. I don’t know if product design has changed or whether designers are articulating in a more coherent manner the web of relationships that make a product and a brand. The simultaneous communication of product, brand, and experience has some long-standing examples: Ferrari, Sony with Walkman and PlayStation, or Levis with 501s. Yahoo.com or Amazon.com I would say are good examples in cyberworld.’

Dale Bevington, Partner, Indes

‘Clive Grinyer’s contention that a product is now central to a company’s communication of its brand is true. But so is everything else. There is no one centre to a brand. A “brand” is whatever you choose to make it, or think it or feel it. What is maybe true is that the “whole” of a brand – it’s “gestalt” – is greater than the sum of its parts. But since “wholes” are hard to experience each part becomes the epitome of the whole. So if it’s a product, any part of it can stand in for its essence, including a photograph, a remark, a smell or a sound. Even a moment in a dream. There’s an infinite number of centres of essence in any successful brand.’

Michael Wolff, Head of Imagination, The Fourth Room

‘It is in the future that the real importance of good design will be felt. In a world where consumers, by and large, have all the basic necessities for life, good design will be demanded. We are discussing future trends in consumerism here, whereby cynically or fecklessly conceived products are just no longer acceptable to the customer. This is a world where fashion will not relate just to the clothes we wear but to all aspects of our lives – the VW born-again Beetle is undeniably a Golf packaged as a fashion accessory. More and more, fashion and packaging design are influencing each other: soon we will be buying products unseen over the Internet purely on the strength of their brand endorsement. It is much more cost-efficient to market a good brand that provides satisfaction and repeat business than to sustain a major advertising campaign. Design seems to be the foundation of lasting consumer satisfaction.’

Sebastian Conran, Creative Director – Product/ Graphics, Conran and Partners

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