Posts tagged “vernacular”

Putting the brand into the details

We had a fun strategy session yesterday with a local small business owner, uncovering their unrealized business goals and exploring how they can grow. One area that we kept coming back to (and one that honestly I think we could always do a better job at in our own practice) was to consider all the ways that people interact with your brand and to approach each of those creatively, considering how that interaction could be differentiated, improved, and made more relevant to your brand. Here’s a couple of examples.

In Amsterdam, Albert Heijn is the leading grocery chain. As tourists, we needed a cheap SIM card to drop into our unlocked mobile phone. The different options were commodities, all priced identically. But this packaging swayed us. It’s a grocery store’s branded mobile phone service and it is packaged like something you’d find at a grocery store! How charming! Sadly, the printed instructions and the voice prompts were all in Dutch. Worse, even our Dutch-speaking friends weren’t able to get us up and running; we had an account with a zero balance. So while the packaging was persuasive at purchase time, the idea of getting mobile service from a grocery chain now seems rather stupid and I’m only reminded of how we wasted 15.00€.

The bathroom signage at the Belgian Comic Strip Center in Brussels use the same vernacular that the organization celebrates. This is a very simple detail, inexpensively realized, that added a small moment of delight to a necessary errand.

See more pictures from Amsterdam here and from Belgium here.

Vernacular design – where form ignores function

Here’s a package design where form deceptively implies function. The deliberateness of it all is just a little bit evil.
Here’s a jug of maple syrup. It’s made of plastic, but the color might make you think of a ceramic jug. It’s got a jaunty handle, and for your pouring convenience, a spout.

Whoops. That’s not a spout. That’s just a jutting piece of the form below the opening but that is definitely separated from the hole. It’s the shape of a spout.

And look what happens when you use it. A big freaking mess. Every time.

The evil irony is that the jug form makes it even harder to pour (given the small finger handle and the wide heavy base) without dripping.

A spout – an important function in a pouring package – is an aesthetic detail, the suggestion of spout-ness, without the inclusion of any actual spout. So they had the presence to consider the value of a spout, but made that decision while at the same time choosing a non-spout form factor.

This is a bad thing.

Upate: Dan Reich writes (that’s hard to say out loud): Here (pic1 pic2) is a product that managed to get it right. Despite its obvious similarities to your example, note that Trader Joe’s syrup does not feature a bogus spout bulge, but when the top is opened, a reasonably useful spout is thoughtfully provided.


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