Design and Brand

I believe the first money a company spends on branding should be on product. Especially with the ethos and mechanisms of Web 2.0 meritocracy, wherein the best products are identified and endorsed by influential commentators, a great brand must be grounded in great product. One of my favorite examples is the Mini Cooper.


Spend five minutes on Mini’s website (you’ll want to spend an hour), and the Mini brand will be etched in your mind: fun, zippy, personal, authentic, original. The website is good, but it is mostly good because it is loyal to the car it presents. The car is distinctive and fresh, but grounded in a historically significant design with a following. Every detail is on-brand. Some true believers in the Mini of the 60s don’t like the modernized version, but they are exceptions. After thoroughly ingesting the Mini Cooper as presented on the Web shortly after its US introduction in 2001, I decided to buy one, even before test driving. I could see from the design that it fit my values perfectly: distinctive without being ostentatious, fun, high quality, affordable, responsible. [I cancelled my order after contemplating the importance of a fifth seatbelt.] Here is the punchline: the great design of this product (and the great design of its marketing campaign and website) enabled Mini to spend about one quarter on first year launch marketing vs. what any reasonable marketing veteran would prescribe. ROI, my friends.

I will go on about this topic in other posts, I hope to your benefit.


1 Response to “Design and Brand”

  1. 1 Max Kalehoff March 18, 2009 at 7:25 pm

    I like your comments on design and brand. At my startup, simplicity is one of our three core values. Simplicity in user experience, but also in design and branding. Products should be simple and beautiful.

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