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Culture of Design Essay

Brand vs. identity

A brand refers to the functional associations that the customers attribute to the product depending on their expectations of its performance. The brand is concerned with the attributes that make the product to appear unique from the customer’s perception (Adrian 2000).

Once the customer identifies a certain brand, he or she can then be able to make his or her purchase decisions faster than someone who does not have a specific brand. The customer can develop an emotional attachment to the brand if he or she perceives it to be satisfying his or her needs. The designer of the brand should design it in such a ways that it connects with the customer and not just the product (Kotler 2006).

Identity on the other hand, is concerned with the image of the company. This image can be portrayed by the brand made by the company. The type of marketing collateral, the messages communicated by the company and other visuals displayed present the whole aspect of identity. Other features found in the brand identity may include the product name, the sound invoked by the name, trade dress and the brand’s personality.

For a brand name to be effective it should suggest the products and services that it offers, it should also be easily recognized or pronounced and distinctive from other brands.

In order to create a sense of belonging, there should be ad good design and discourse. Whatever is said in the visual context should be related to the appropriate narration that gives meaning to it. For example in the designs presented over the TV, they must be related to the real experiences that the consumers find on the use of the brand ensures some sense of modernity.

Sometimes a visual language can be effectively used to convey some messages to the consumer as they can be associated with a certain meaning. For example, Joan’s visual language had been used to advertise market freedom instead of being used as symbol for political emancipation (Julier 1997).

Development of a good brand may be very costly but can also result in increased sales as long as it is able to meet the customer requirements. It requires marketing research to be done specifically in the market segments so that the customers are able to give their views on various ways in which they want the product to be designed.

Relationship between consumer and product

There is a very strong relationship between a consumer and the product depending on how well the product is able to meet the customer’s specifications. For example, the most loyal consumers of a specific product tend to make repeat purchases from the product due to the continued satisfaction that they get from the use of the brand.

Under the just in time method, the products made by the manufacturer depend on the customer’s specification. They are only made after the customer has made an order or a demand. There are no goods left in stock since all the goods made are delivered immediately to the customer. This may reduce the costs involved in holding these products in the warehouse as they can be delivered to the consumers as soon as they are complete.

The designer of any given product only acts as an agent of ideology and therefore may not fully control the needs the consumers who have purchased the product. He may try his best to suit their needs but he may not be able to control the interpretations made by these consumers. However, this does not mean that the designer should make his products in such a way that they do not meet the customer’s specifications.

Consumers do make their own choices on the use of various products and therefore there is individualism in the use of these products. Every consumer has his or her own tastes and preferences. This may not apply to the case of a public good as it is more concerned with many users than specifications of a particular consumer.

Consumption entails what happens in the market, this makes it difficult to meet the specifications of the consumer since the consumer is unknown by the time the product is being manufactured. If it does not meet one consumer’s expectations, then it can be bought by a different consumer with different needs (Landa 1997).

Most of the products designed by the manufacturer may only appear to be unique in terms of appearance, but can attract many consumers if well designed. This is what the brand should provide to the customers so that they can be loyal to the products.

Buying into an idea – being part of a group by purchasing certain products

Most consumers are normally influenced to make their purchase decisions after seeing an advertisement over the media e.g. TV or magazines. Through the strategy of obsolescence, a product may become unfashionable with time if not well advertised so that the customers can continue purchasing the product.

Even if some consumers fail to purchase a particular brand, they can still buy brands of the same manufacturer as long as the brand is able to meet their expectations. Others may be influenced to purchase in order to associate themselves with a larger group of users of a given brand.

The Sony Company had to do a survey on the users of TV and the frequency of watching the various channels available. After the survey, they were then able to design a portable TV in order to meet the customers’ needs and preferences (Julier 2007). This was contrary to the Electric Company which did not understand the customers’ expectations. From a large group of consumers, the manufacture can understand the various patterns of behavior which can be effectively implemented to increase the sale of products in the market. Once the consumers have seen other users of the portable TVs, they can also buy the idea and start using the same products as well. Therefore, design consultants should perform a market research in the consumer markets so that to design the products strategically to meet the customers’ expectations.

However, Slater views that consumption is based on the economic systems that may be different depending on the distribution of wealth within the society.

Identification through consumption

A designer of a given project should have an understanding of the project before undertaking it. For example, Norman Foster who had been assigned to design the buildings of a stadium and a tower in the Leeds city, had first invited the City Council, which was one of his clients, to visit the city of Barcelona through the images presented (Julier 2007).

The design for a given brand should be able to meet the expectations of the consumer and therefore the customer’s preference is very crucial. If the manufacturer is able to redesign the products in order to change some specifications as required by the consumers, then the customers are likely to be loyal to the consumption of the brand.

According to the manipulation theory, it is important for a company to redesign its products in order to avoid losing customers to its competitors. The satisfaction of the consumer is the ultimate goal of any manufacturer who wants to be successive.

The various acts of consumption may involve the smelling, feeling or touching that is experienced by the consumers of a given product. Due to the constant expansion of consumer demand for various products, consumer culture has been created and therefore the manufacturer has to understand the customers’ needs in order to ensure that the products made are able to satisfy them.

Similarly, the need for a given product can be taken to be based on the individual or customer because the wants are often bound up with his unique needs or desires that are self evident (Slater 1997).Some of these self evident needs includes such products like food and health which are among the basic goods.

In the post traditional society, the consumers are able to identify themselves through consumption. However, this relationship may change from time to time depending on the codes of reading the identities. The goods used by the customer can be used to convey their identity as there is a strong relationship between the identity and consumption.

Sometimes, customization is very crucial in some products that are specifically designed to meet the customer’s expectations. Some of these products may include bicycles, clothes and soft wares. Such products are very sensitive to the customer’s requirements.

Status and symbol in society

Many consumers are known to believe that the quality of a given products is influenced by the status of their political economy or their social class. Those from high class society have unique design requirements for the products that they consume. Such products are highly valued if they meet their specifications.

They are able to buy the products even at very high prices due to their high purchasing power. This is true because consumption is used to express the power of the consumer or the freedom of choice. Consumers who are not loyal to the company’s products have many options to buy from and therefore the manufacturer has to find out what they actually need and provide it according to the specifications.

If the manufacturer fails to satisfy them, they are not likely to buy any product from the manufacturer. For the lower class society, the consumers may continue purchasing the product as long as it is affordable to them without necessarily meeting the values expected from it.

The loyal customers may continue using the product for some time even if it does not meet their specifications but not for too long. He may end up in buying from the competitors who may be producing products that are able to satisfy the customers’ demands.

There should be a vigorous understanding of the users of a given brand so that whatever value is promised by the brand, meets the customer’s demand. For example, the users of a Mercedes Benz expect that the high price that has been paid for the car means that they shall obtain a higher value from the use of the car. If it does not meet such specifications, then the customers are likely to shift their demand to other brand of cars.

The epochal changes in the consumer culture had led to a new era of a ‘disorganized capitalism’ (Slater 1997). This has ensured that the products being produced have a very strong relationship with the status and symbol that it represents.

Slater explains that the cultural reproduction requires the use of symbolic power which has been the basic way in which the consumer culture has been developed over time. This is contrary to the perception by Julier who explains that consumer culture can be influenced by other factors like societal trends in the use of the product and technology.

Slater also observes that the objects of consumption can also be used to reproduce particular social identities of the consumers of the products. In the design of any products, the manufacturers should differentiate the various markets into segments that can be easily served according to their specific requirements (Slater 1997).

This enables the differentiation of products in terms of design, appearance and prices to be effectively implemented in the market. Some of the costly products can be priced at a premium to ensure that the manufacturer is able to cover the costs incurred.

The appropriate symbol perceived on the product is a very sensitive issue that should be observed from time to time as it can change. Many authors have different views but most topics on the consumer culture are related and therefore the different views are very crucial to the designers of various products. This is the only way of being able to satisfy consumers.


Adrian, F 2000, Objects of desire: Design and society since 1750, Thames and Hudson, London.

Julier, G 2007, The culture of design, Sage Publications Limited, London.

Kotler, P 2006, Marketing management, Harper, London.

Landa, M 1997, 1000 Years of nonlinear history, Swerve Editions, New York.

Slater, D 1997, Consumer culture and modernity, Polity Press, Cambridge.

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