Magazine article Marketing

You Can't Put a Price on Design's True Inspiration

Magazine article Marketing

You Can't Put a Price on Design's True Inspiration

Article excerpt

We've all read the headlines - 'Sainsbury's in Coca-Cola Cott war', 'Tesco takes on Kellogg', 'Supermarkets flout IGD Code'. Most of this misses the point. Retailers are behaving in the same way as second or tertiary brand owners always have - manufacturers have been copying each other for years. Walk around a supermarket. Brands within the same category are strikingly similar - the equivalent of brand wallpaper.

With product quality unquestioned by the consumer and product advantage difficult to sustain, it's crazy not to make the most of the primary interface between consumer and your product - its design.

So why the me-too brands in the supermarket? Many designers (and their clients) could be charged with failure to think outside the box - preferring to grasp for the safe or familiar, rather than search for that elusive inspiration. Any designer with integrity seeks inspiration from stimuli in the world at large. Yet many look no further than existing packs which have won consumer approval, or D&AD entries which have won peer approval.

As designers and their clients create category languages, consumers come to expect it. In research groups, respondents think they're being helpful with responses like: 'That doesn't look like a credible hair remover', or, 'boxed chocolates always have flowers on'. Designers and clients often let comments like this guide their judgement in spite of knowing design is not an easy medium to research.

Another factor is the result of the recession. Wanting to keep the business coming in the door, designers resorted to presenting design in a digestible way, with all the uncertainties smoothed over. …

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