How balance can help your brand succeed.

Balance comes from feedback

Innovation and appeal are crucial to the success of your brand. The balance between form and function is crucial to the success of your products. If you design and develop something that focuses too much on form, it may lack innovation. However, if you design something that focuses too much on function, it may not be appealing to your customers.

Brand Identity is also something you need to strive to maintain. If you start making big, abrupt changes to your products you can find yourself veering away from your brand image. This could impact your mission statement, and everything your customers know and love about you.

So, how do you preserve your brand as a whole while attempting to innovate and create appeal? There is no one answer that can help everyone universally, but there are a few things to keep in mind when addressing this dilemma.

Product Innovation & Your Brand Image

There’s no denying that the consumer goods market is highly competitive. Brands continue to churn out product after product in an attempt to stay on top and be successful. At these speeds, it’s easy to veer off course and design products that don’t represent your brand as well as they could. However, it’s also easy to stay the course by making subtle changes while maintaining the aspects your customers expect from you.

This is balance.

Take for example a brand like Nike. Known globally for everything from basketball shoes to athletic clothing, to golf balls. While their iconic swish logo makes them easy to identify, there’s more to their approach to products that unifies all of the channels in their brand. This can be found in everything from the copy they write for their products to the color palette they apply to them.

Nike is able to maintain and grow their appeal through innovation by being consistent and making both small and broad-stroke changes. If they make a change or innovate any of their products, it can be applied to the whole line. In doing this, the brand is still updating its product offering and introducing improvements in form and function, even if it’s subtle.

This approach helps preserve the brand and its appeal. It also keeps loyal customers engaged and anticipating what’s coming next.

Microdosing With Product Innovation

Innovation is the key to success in the world of consumer goods. However, too many changes at once can polarize your brand’s image and acceptance. This is especially true if you’re looking to upgrade an existing product. Things like this can alienate core customers and lead to a decline in sales. This is why it’s best to innovate in small doses.

At one of my first product engineering jobs, the company I was working for at the time decided to take one of our flagship products and completely change it. The change was so drastic that the new product hardly resembled what it was replacing. It was also more expensive because it was harder to produce. When it launched in the market, core customers refused to accept it. Making matters worse, feedback started pouring in from the people who did buy it that it was harder to use. The product was out of balance. Too much attention was paid to form and not enough to function. In the end, the product was pulled from the shelves that same year.

This is a prime example where product design skewed heavily towards changing the form of the product and it neglected its function. There was enough feedback to trigger the company to make an update. However, it was never considered during the design phase. Overall, it was a watershed moment. From that point forward, more attention was paid to the voice of the consumer to inspire changes in product development.

The Exception To The Rule: Textiles

The one place where you could innovate heavily is with textiles. Integrating new and innovative fabrics into your product line is something that doesn’t generally change how the product looks, just how it performs.

For example, if your brand sells a rain shell that has traditionally been solely DWR treated and you decide to re-introduce it with a Gore-Tex membrane, that’s a change in function. You’re creating a higher-value item that can be more appealing without making changes that can be visually traumatizing.

Another example can be found in the backpacking and tent markets. Backpack and tent manufacturers are continually being challenged to introduce lighter fabrics. The challenge is that those fabrics are expected to have the same durability and reliability as those currently used. This has led to innovative materials like Dyneema and Challenge Outdoor’s Ultra 100 and 200 that defy what we know about durable and reliable fabrics.

In both of these examples, the changes are extreme. The change to Gore-Tex and the adoption of revolutionary fabrics like Dyneema and Challenge Outdoor’s Ultra Collection could create new product lines for the brands using them. In some cases it has. In other cases, these changes have proven to be the next logical evolution of a well-established product or product line.

Collecting Feedback

Everything mentioned here has been influenced by feedback, from a new product’s failure to the decision to upgrade to Gore-Tex in a rain shell to the invention of completely new fabrics. All of this came from the voice of the consumer. These changes and innovations started as feedback. The right feedback will provide direction to a brand.

Additionally, concept testing and pre-launch product testing can create an abundance of feedback. At MESH01, we call that “relevant and reliable feedback”. It helps you look for trends in what people are saying. This can help you confirm your approach or influence necessary changes. It also provides the ability to confirm the validity of feedback you find online.

At MESH01, we’ve seen how feedback has led to brand success. Over the years, we’ve seen brands take the information their customers have supplied them and turn it into the next best thing for their brand. Through the right feedback, brands can find the balance they need to help them decide where to innovate, improve, or change. That said, it’s imperative that you talk to the right people to collect this feedback.

MESH01 Concept and Pre-Market Product Testing

Leveraging the voice of your customer through concept and pre-market product testing is an important and beneficial tool. With more and more brands adopting these processes, you can benefit from it too. By engaging your core customers during the product development process, before launch, you can improve your confidence and guarantee that you’re bringing a product to market that fits your customer’s needs.

This approach allows you to balance what you know and the information being collected from the people who know your brand.

If you want to know more about the MESH01 Product Experience Platform, contact us today.