Design can be art. Design can be simple. That’s why it’s so complicated.” –Paul Rand
The Emotional Value
A team’s success relies on having a shared emotional connection to the task at hand. Consciously or subconsciously, the team must strongly believe in what they are striving to achieve.
In big fashion houses, this shared connection binds employees together. Fashion designers should start their work by recognizing the emotional value of what they want to create. That emotional value often sprouts out of a moment of inspiration or connection with a particular place or aesthetic. The emotional value can then be stretched out to a mood board and to silhouettes, fabrics, colours, and details, consequently shaping an intangible feeling into something with form.
Putting together a collection is a difficult process with many pieces. In part, this is because creative thinking is not unidirectional. It shoots three dimensionally in any direction around a starting point. That can be hard to control, which is why a mood board, inspiration board or a theme board, whatever one calls it, helps the designer remember that the feeling or emotion he or she started off with should be the Bible of the collection, the compass helping to push the work forward. When a designer feels lost or out of control, going back to the initial moment of inspiration helps remind him or her of the bones of the collection.
So we must realise and remember that a product is created on the background of a feeling(mood) that doesn’t exist in the physical realm. It is driven by the vision of using or interacting with the product.
“The role of the designer is that of a good, thoughtful host anticipating the needs of his guests” –Charles Eames
When a product does not live up to the expectations of the customer, challenges arise and fixes must be made. Take the case of a stiff shirt, for example. Giving an enzyme softener wash to the shirt helps it live up to the feeling we want it to engender in the wearer, one of comfort.
So we can say that we are actually catering to a certain set of consumer desires with our design work. The product is only a medium to cater to that feeling. When a customer responds to a product and sees its value, he or she will pull out their wallet to pay for that value. Or, in the case of online sales, order it.
If I want a winter jacket it has to “feel” warm. But I also want to “feel” fashionable in it. Ultimately, I may pick a black woolen overcoat because I “felt” it would fit in my wardrobe. The customer’s journey toward making a purchase is actually a journey of feeling.
This feeling can never be fully controlled, but we can nurture it by identifying what drives a customer forward. We can facilitate their journeys.
“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” –Leonardo da Vinci
This feeling (the emotional value) is important for designers to be conscious of. It helps them communicate with customers by creating products that buyers see value in.
Ads, hoardings, events, shows, and collaborations are all used to create the spark and generate awareness of a brand or product. But that is not enough to create a lasting impression or earn the customer’s trust.
“Art has always been summoned to advertise social ideas, religious beliefs, new philosophies and finally products (post industrial revolution).”
Physical retail spaces can brilliantly communicate a brand’s value and win customers’ trust. The store layout, the selection of styles/products, the visual merchandising, the store staff, the aesthetics of the space and even the packaging all contribute to a certain experience for customers, convincing them of a brand’s value.
This is the reason why Visual Merchandising has been such a key element for stores. The higher the product value, the richer the VM.
This doesn’t stand very important for a price-point driven product, but they also will access it to beat the competition in their favour.
“presentation is everything”
The digital space is revolutionising the way we live and the way we shop. Through technology, the world is becoming a global village, but also a global marketplace.
Online stores must create impressive digital content in order to market themselves well and create that perceived value which drives traffic to their website, leading to sales.
Your website is the only thing that the customer has to get to know you better. The layout, the images, and the copy are all crucial pieces when enticing customers to buy your products.
Again, for a price conscious product, rich aesthetics is not primary as the customer is only concerned with getting the best price.
He or she doesn’t care about the layout or designs much. However, for a quality driven product, the presentation could be a game changer.
“The Universe is in Constant Motion”
Out of our five senses, we are limited to two senses on the screen: We can only hear and see. A brand must create content that caters to these two senses. That is the reason why video content is very important. A moving image is more engaging than a still image, unless one zooms in and focuses on something specific like texture, which occurs mostly on product websites. People zoom in to get a closer look, to fill in for the sense of touch and maybe even for smell and taste, depending on the product and the quality of the image. The takeaway from this point is that digital content has to be as life-like as possible, and typically, a moving image imitates life better than a still image.
“Art Imitates Life”
Apart from still images for catalog, the digital content for promotion has to be more story driven, representing life or a lifestyle more broadly. Today, the blog page of a brand has become a key element to engage audiences and also to push them to believe in the value the brand wants to create.
Examples: theoliostories.com, HUEMN, chubstr.com, mrporter.com, asos.com
“Good design is honest.” –Dieter Rams
Depending on what value the brand wants to create, and what the key strengths of the product are, digital content has to be integrated with other marketing techniques. Mostly, when stylists or art directors create content for websites, it is a superficial affair. They might be great visual artists and storytellers, but integrating the brand’s aesthetic or message with a specific product requires time spent with the people behind the product to understand what initially inspired them. Having a creative team that understands the brand’s vision is important for capturing the emotional value of a product and communicating that message to the customer.
“Integration has to be deep, sensitive and qualitative.”
By Sahdev Hooda