The classical design job: a technical platform was given by the OEM, and not very outstanding compared to market standards (except for the new ultra fast laser optics) and also the features were not really differentiating from competition (no wonder, being it an ordinary PC mouse..), so the design needed to make the difference!
Together with product management and development, the designers tried hard to come up with a proposal, which would answer to all the requirements concerning usability, as well as clearly fit to the brand language the company had established.
A quick visit to the electronic store around the corner, including a benchmark session, revealed an overcrowded shelf with lots of similar, very competent and technological looking stuff. Well, it seemed just right to base the new design on the renewed brand values, and with that to create an authentic and outstanding form language to set this computer mouse apart from the pack!
It did not take long to develop a style, of which all involved agreed it did reflect the brand values in the best possible way: human (not technical), honest (not fake) and functional (not powerful, rather simple). In the end it turned out to be an ergonomic, hygienic, somewhat feminine appearing computer mouse.
The designers were pleased with the fact that, except for one competitor, all other designs in the market were telling exactly the opposite story – this way their design would stand out for sure! “I hope its going to be alright” was the reply from the product manager, who was still in doubt, but eventually he agreed. He somehow liked the idea not to blindly follow the pack, but to stick to their own strengths and brand heritage. Not for nothing he had spend days in a brand awareness training!
Furthermore he was happy to be finally inline with the designers‘ opinion: in the past these guys delivered great sketches and ideas, but these had little to do with the demands coming from the market place and the trade, he thought. No, now it all seems to work out!
The next steps were taken and production start was imminent, also the sales guys from the country organizations were cooperative and seem to support the new designs. They were optimistic to convince the trade, and were planning for the necessary sales materials, like brochures and flyers…
The colleagues responsible for arranging this, took up the job and invited their local supplier to come up with a concept for a trade presentation: in the brief they collected all the features and specialties the product possessed and explained the differentiating element towards the competition.
The agencies creative director immediately had the big idea. “Why not using the cooperation with that formula-one racing team? A perfect hook to promote this ultra fast laser optics!”
That the cooperation was taken up and used by the companies shaver-division wouldn’t matter. “But hey, a brand is a brand: none of the other competitors can come close to this message!” And within his creative mind he could already envisage the slogan: the turbo mouse, driven by formula 1 technology!
The colleagues from sales loved it, and they quickly had some changes done to the pack and the POS material (luckily there are stickers!) and off they went into the negotiations with the trade…
A couple of months later the designers gathered in front of the shelf in their favorite electronic store and couldn’t believe their eyes: their design, the one of an easy to clean, ergonomic and simple computer mouse, miraculously changed into a pimped up, hyper-fast computer weapon, including racing stripes! The picture on the pack didn’t show a woman in front a PC, as initially planned, but a young guy in a race-suit with the brand’s logo on it, playing a racing game.
Frustrated and clueless they looked at each other in disbelieve and realized they learned a lesson: a brand is a brand, not!