Transformator and The Role Of Product Design In Brand Communication

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Industry design consultants Transformator made it into Dagens Media yesterday with a statement that they’re better than the advertising agencies.

I’m sure they ARE better. At product design, design of the user experience, the brand in it’s physical product appearance. But that is not what advertising agencies do.

What Daniel Ewerman (CEO of Tranformator) is saying is that the product is a superior carrier of the brand, and I think that can be true a lot of times (though not always). Apple is a good example of what he’s talking about, what I usually refer to as communicative design. Other products are examples of the opposite. I guess Coke Zero vs Coke Light is a good example. Same product, completely different brand experience (unless you count the packaging as the product).

I don’t think Daniel is wrong, but matching up industrial design and advertising as mutually exclusive opponents is strange (I’m not sure that he meant it so drastically, but it sounded that way in the article). There are several expressions of brands. You have the product, you have the packaging, you have the advertising, you have the storytelling, you have the brand alignments with other brands, you have brand aligning services, CSR, etc etc. Is Transformator aiming at doing all of these? Of course not. Are they trying to get more focus on their particular area of expertise? Of course. And they did got an article for their efforts.

So in conclusion – kudos do Daniel for bringing focus to the issue och product development and product design. I think it deserves more focus. But at the same time, I think it’s way oversimplified in the DM-article. And I don’t think you can learn to make EFFECTIVE advertising in 6 months as Daniel suggests in the article. Try 6 years. Or 60. Or 600. We’re not even there yet.

4 Responses to "Transformator and The Role Of Product Design In Brand Communication"
  1. theplanninglab says:

    Gotta love self-promotion…

    I always find it uninteresting when people promote their product as “a new and better alternative” to X.
    Start pigeonholing yourself in your own niche and you’ll soon be overrun by something “new and better”.

    Also I’m getting sick of people using Apple as a case for everything. Extremely few companies have been able to replicate anything Apple has done (short of Chinese ripoffs).

  2. Walter Naeslund says:

    Well – Apple is a good example because they’re so extreme in one end of the spectrum. It’s like pointing to a star and saying “that’s north”. But ok. I agree it’s disturbingly over-used.

    They are extreme because they’re doing things in a completely different way than what is considered the modern way of doing things. A lot of the things they do SHOULDN’T work but does because they’re alone doing it. There’s an excellent article on the subject in last month’s issue of Wired.

  3. theplanninglab says:

    I agree that Apple is an excellent company in many respects.

    But you can’t make companies become innovative by showing or even copying what other innovative companies have done.

    There’s also a danger by using simplified examples, because they provide no actual guidance whatsoever. Things are more difficult and complex than clients and consultants think.

  4. Walter Naeslund says:

    Things are always infinitely more complex than any descripition. Such is the nature of information and knowledge. Simplification is the purpose of models. And it is the consultants job to take the infinitely complex reality and simplify it into useful insights.

    On the other hand, I withhold that Apple is an overused example, and one that is not applicable everywhere. There are of course examples of marketing as a product that are more obscure, and thus perhaps richer in information than the Apple example. The second revision of the V70 is one where you could argue that the new, and for that time provocative, design cues was very communicative. Or for that matter, take the whole fashion industry, with WESC-headphones as a brilliant example. Or the market disruption that Nokia provided when adding design value for mobile phones. Or Bang Olufsen.

    But like I said, I agree that Apple is an over-used example, and I’ll do my best to use different ones.

    What are your favorite examples to use?

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This blog is written by Walter Naeslund and has been around since 2007. The blog is about the journey of starting an advertising agency and a sneak peek behind the scenes of what goes on at the Honesty HQ in SoFo, Södermalm. It is also a blog about communication & technology. The blog has gathered almost a thousand posts over the years with several longer and shorter breaks. Welcome and enjoy.
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