When most people think of branding, they think of businesses getting logos, colors, fonts, etc. But products need this as well. Product branding typicaly isn’t the first thing that comes up from clients. Doesn’t matter if speaking with inventors and start-ups or established companies. It should be. A products brand is created either intentionally or thoughtlessly. The process of developing a product creates a brand if it isn’t guided into an existing brand. Many companies don’t have a plan or budget for the branding part of a product development project. This is especially true for smaller businesses.
The buzz words that commonly get through around, like “cool”, don’t really give direction. There are many “cool” products out there, they don’t all match though. So when someone’s answer to “what should it look like” is “cool”, we need clarity. With intentional branding, these things are thought of at the beginning. They 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.
Branding starts at the beginning
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 is tough feeling, then the designer can focus on that aesthetic. If it is a calming brand, then the design will be aimed in that direction. This saves time wasted in wrong directions. 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. They may not call it that, they are sometimes called design guidelines. Either way, they can show any designer the guide and the concepts and designs they create will match Apples exact branding. 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.
Product lines need branding too
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 the product side used to create concepts with. This means everything will work together and look right. Branding families of products together also helps with marketing. This allows leveraging of brand loyalty to have old and current customers purchasing the new product.
Product branding doesn’t have to be the huge affair that branding a company is. However, 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. This, in turn, 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. Branding is always important to us and the clients we work on.