Buying an ideal

posted by Phu

It’s generally a misconception that people buy a product because it’s superior in performance. Mercedes Benz cars don’t sell because they technically exceed their competitors. Neither are Nike market leaders because their footware are superior over their rivals.

Companies that trade on their brand aren't necessarily selling a product. Instead, their main business is the selling of something more abstract and intangible. What they're involved in is selling a dream, an ideal. Such companies have managed to successfully use their brand to communicate a language and personality through which the products are merely the words.

Old masters

Nike Swoosh

One of the companies that best embodies this principle is Nike. Their swoosh, the fortuitous result of a student design, is more important than any of their shoes. In one elegant design, it expresses dynamism and athleticism but more importantly, they have used it as the lynchpin under which they've built their identity.

They've carefully sponsored the world's leading atheletes, created adverts in which they express technical excellence and creativity all the whilst emblazing the classic Nike logo. At no time do they expressedly market a single product; instead it's their brand which is being sold.

Young blood

Whilst it's easy to talk about established giants, what about companies that don't possess the same legacy (ignoring for the moment that all companies large and small have to create a history)?

Jewelboxing

Jewelboxing is a relatively new company which ambitiously tries to sell a premium version of the ubiquitous DVD box.

On the surface, this is as far removed from Nike's as you can get. It's not a logo that is the centre of their brand efforts but an actual item. Their boxes are a technical masterpiece and they extensively showcase them. They present the perfect design of the cases; how they're constructed, how you can tailor your own designs to theirs.

However, if you look a little deeper, then you see that they have every much an understanding of the "selling a dream" principle as the industry giants.

How Jewelboxing have sold an ideal

They immediately begin with the words " We are professional designers who were unsatisfied with the materials available for packaging our DVDs and CDs".

In one swoop, they've established:

Who they are and what they represent

They're professional designers and their products are professional designs. They're not a sterile manufacturing outfit but the very same people who would otherwise be their customer's peers.

They understand their customers

As professional designers, they've gone through the same heartaches. They know what their customers want because in another world, they would be the customers.

That their product is the best

As they are the same as their customers, then their products are what they would naturally buy for themselves. Their products are pinnacles of technical excellence because as professional designers, that is what they themselves expect.

That if you believe in yourself, then this is for you

If you're good, if you're producing great work, then you need to showcase it in a great box. A simple message, but one that you cannot fail to understand.

Moving across their site, you can see how they have built on this image. Their site design is wonderfully clean. Through their weblog, they continue to communicate the voice of the company. And their templates, inspirations and partners cement the fact that they are what they say they are.

Final notes

Companies are really in the business of selling people what they want and a brand and image is the megaphone that they use. A brand and presence is more than a logo or a name however; it's a distillation of the personlality of your company and what it represents.


Comment [1838]

Recent entries

  • Buying an ideal

    It’s generally a misconception that people buy a product because it’s superior in performance. Mercedes Benz cars don’t sell because they technically exceed their competitors. Neither are Nike market leaders because their footware are superior over their rivals.

  • Selling standards to clients

    Whilst the benefits of CSS driven design principles should be clear for any competent developer, selling the same idea to a client requires a different set of arguments.

  • Lighttpd Logo Contest

    Lighttpd is a fast and lightweight web-server which is specially optimized for high-performance environments. However, despite being around for almost 2 years, it has yet to have received an official logo.

  • New design

    After some behind the scenes reorganization, this site has finally gone live with it’s new redesign. As well as the main corporate facing site, we’ve also decided to keep a notebook covering aspects of design and web development.

  • Notebook archive