There are numerous international companies that compete to achieve commercial success under the current conditions. However, only few of them grew into outstanding companies: Apple, Microsoft, Samsung, etc. It is interesting to analyze the factors that make them commercially successful; they can be different, but there is always one common feature among all of the companies that attain success. All of them are focused on designing new products every year in order to survive in a competitive climate. Launching of new designed products or services by one of them is always breaking news to the customers and the world. For example, when Apple released iPhone 6s, there was a long line of customers who were waiting to purchase it. The customers not only in product industry, but also in fashion industry, show passion about getting new products; for instance, there was a crowd of customers in early morning when the Uniqlo and Lemaire released their collaboration products last month. During the launching period, the media and the streets were full of advertisements. Since new products or services are of great importance, the role of the product designers has become important, and this increased demand for new products gives great opportunities to expand the growth of the product design field and jobs. Therefore, many companies start hiring designers, but only few of them succeed in enhancing their company’s value. In order to achieve commercial success, the product designer should be concerned with the efficient strategic plan for the design in the market and aesthetic value through brand identity.
Having a strong foundation or a good start allows the structure to be firm and rigid. “Well begun is half done”, a Korean proverb says. This statement also applies in product design field as well. Commercial success always starts with strong and profound study of the research so that designer was able to develop the strategies along with research. There are two ways to approach the market status: interacting with potential users or mapping out the users’ life style, and finding the dead zones in the markets. All methods of research are based on the principle of problem solving.
The first method is mapping out the users’ lifestyle. The main theme of research for the company “DeWALT” is observing and understanding the customer’s life style. James Watson, an industrial design senior manager at Black and Decker, joined the project with the DeWALT, which is a worldwide famous tool company. He aimed at making products that improve the efficiency of the customer’s work by studying their lifestyle and employment. They consider it appropriate to approach the process in a way of studying users’ life patterns to design the suitable and efficient products for them. Those studies and observations lead them to the following phase and designed opportunities; for instance, they saw great opportunities in the market of cordless nailers. Once they determined the design direction, cordless nailer, they kept applying their design concepts in the customer’s possible environments and it gave them thorough understanding of the effects of hot and cold climates, working in lighted and non-lighted areas, and worker posture, while using tools is helpful in determining correct ergonomics. This information provided them with the design direction and idea of orientation of the parts. Since the principle of this project started from studying the users’ life style, they kept thinking in an ergonomic way to design the orientation of the part depending on the weight and balance from users’ perspective. Indeed, this method is typical in product design field. In order to raise the degree of commercial success, a designer should see the markets from a different perspective and plan different strategies.
The second method is finding the dead zone in the markets. Being interviewed, Don Goeman, Vice President of design and development at Herman Miller, said that they study change at various levels and from multiple perspectives and then they see and consider the areas of life or work that are not keeping pace with change.The team are looking for the areas which do not keep up with the other in pace and then develop them.
Since Herman Miller is a global furniture company, it is a wise strategy to target the weak area of the market. For example, the chart above is the typical imagery chart that many product designers use to see the trend and market status. In this chart, there are two pairs of words that are in complementary relations, such as “structure” and “organic”, “right” and “left”, “warm” and “cool”, “top” and “bottom”. These words can be altered on the basis of the theme of the research. The rivals Apple and Microsoft have two different identities in the market. According to the chart, the Apple products’ identity corresponds to a warm and organic section, while Microsoft products are in the section of cool and structure. This proves that two companies could rivals because they had opposite brand identity in the market. Otherwise one gets eliminated by the other. This also shows you the weak area, in which the blank indicates a possible target for a new upcoming brand to compete with them. With these research skills, designers now have to consider how they are going to apply this design opportunity and speak through their brand.
Furthermore, the aesthetics creates brand identity. The shape of the forms is the language in art and design field. Anna Grzecznowska, a PhD department head of the Institute of Industrial Design, and Emilia Mostowicz, a PhD Author at the Institute of Industrial Design, say that customers are interested in product design rather than the technology that has been shared with other companies. Since every company share the new technology, the key to draw the customer’s attention or desire to purchase is to create an aesthetically pleasing design. In order to arouse the users’ desire to purchase, the design should be sufficiently emotional to poignant them. Production engineers and constructors designed 65 percent of products on the market, and the professional designers designed only 30 percent of the products. After realizing that design produces enormous impact on their brand value, the company focused on hiring designers or even announcing product patterns and design competitions among the graduates or students of fine arts schools. Apple even specifies the designer in their group. They create the part called “digital sculpture”. Their job is to sculpt the product by hand and find the aesthetic as they carve the form interacting with it. Consideration of the form of the object is a critical fact in the vehicle industry.
In addition, it is vital to feel the languages of the design. Julian Thomson, Jaguar Advanced Design chief designer, states that the reason why they focus on the hand-made models is because it is hard to see that through the computer. Experiences of walking around the full scale hand-made model helped him feel the emotional language or the brand identity, which is a beautiful and well- proportioned car (Thomson). Even though it is not as accurate as a computer, its true value is evoking an abstract idea or the atmosphere of brand through interaction with the form during the process of design sculpting. Since the value of the aesthetic is deeply concealed and abstract, it is quite challenging to specify the definition of the aesthetic. One common method of all companies that seek the aesthetic of the product is their focus on the hand-made models. They find the intangible aesthetic through tangible objects. The product designer should be concerned about the customer’s life behavior and do certain research on that because they are going to purchase and use the products. This indicates understanding and thoughtful interaction between the product and the users, which is a critical part of this project. In order to make the environment where the customer gets experience of good customer service, the designer should interact with the design since they can be possible users as well. By touching, feeling, and communicating with the design rather than clicking a few buttons in the computer, it is possible to enhance the power of the aesthetic, and it blends into customers’ lifestyles.
The role of product designers has become larger in the markets and the trend relies on the brand values. In order to establish an attractive and powerful identity, the designer needs to acknowledge the trend of the market through research and make a decision. After they choose the direction to go, it is time for them to design their languages which speak their own brand identity through the aesthetic values. It is crucial to choose and develop the brand identity because every product and service should have consistency in the languages within the brand identity, which needs to be unchangeable and firm.