When most people think of branding, they think of businesses getting logos, colors, fonts, etc. But products need this as well. When speaking with inventors and start-ups, and even companies with a few products, product branding does not usually get brought to the table as something that the client needs. It should be. A products brand is created either intentionally, or not. The process of developing a product itself creates a brand if there is no guidance to start it off with. Many product development projects, especially with smaller businesses, don’t have a set goal for the feel and aesthetic of the product. The buzz words that commonly get through around, like “cool” don’t really give direction as they are too generic and open for interpretation. With intentional branding, these things are thought of at the beginning, and come from many sources such as market research, using the company branding, or matching an existing product line. Unintentional branding is just that, it isn’t really thought of or discussed, and results from the product development process.
Thinking about the branding at the beginning can often help the concepting process, as it guides the direction in which to create concepts. If a product brand should show something tough, then it eliminates the developer wasting any time on coming up with more delicate designs for the product. Taking it an extra step further and doing color and finish studies is also worth the time it takes as it gives another point to make changes on the aesthetics and feel of the product. This all happens, it’s just whether you are intentionally involved and resources are put toward defining the brand, or just letting it happen. Engaged clients get better designs.
When Apple creates a new product, they have a Style Guide, which helps make sure the next product they release looks like an Apple product. Everyone can recognize an Apple product because of the branding and design style used with their products. You wouldn’t see an Apple product be bulky, square, sharp edges, and have exposed bolts and screw heads on it, it isn’t their brand. That is product brand, and in the case of Apple, it’s also their corporate brand. Companies can also have multiple product lines that don’t share branding.
When creating a line of products, taking the time to create a style guide can be important as it allows you to have a document that can guide every aspect of branding for your products, and their marketing, and any good designer can read and use it. Web design, graphic design, advertising, etc. They all use style guides on some level, and you having one will help all your design come together neatly.
Marketing will use the same Style Guides that design used to create concepts with, which means everything will work together, and look right. Branding families of products together also helps with marketing, allowing the leverage of brand loyalty to have old customers purchasing the new product.
Product branding doesn’t have to be the huge affair that branding a company is but investing the additional resources to define or create a brand for your product will help make sure the product is appealing to the right people. It saves your developer precious time in concepting and adding it into the research phase of your project will help make sure your developer gives you more concepts that you like and will work. Here at the Peterman Firm when a client wants branding to be a true focus, we don’t just use product developers, we bring in our branding experts to give your product the best chance of success possible. For those that don’t want branding to be that big, while we prefer to spend time on branding, we can always keep to the minimum and let unintentional branding set the course.