Culture, Style, Design and Aspirational Products

To the right, I have assembled a number of links I go through daily to acquaint myself with developments in culture, style, design, art and innovation. Understanding and appreciating trends in these worlds is key to understanding how to build more aspirational brands.

Brands that rise above the ordinary can capture the hearts and minds of consumers. It is something for us as consumers to latch on to and claim as badge products that reflect our ever style-conscious needs. Such brands have the potential to redifine categories and generate interest and appeal in them. The iPod is a perfect example of a product put out by a company with uncompromising standards toward aesthetics and appeal. In providing a product of high style, packaged with an eye towards contemporary design and marketed in a slick new way, the brand is not only aspirational, but also responsible for transforming a new format into a must have lifestyle. Not only did it transform us but also its market landscape as other brands have sought to rise to the level of design and aesthetics they find themselves up against with the iPod.

Target is yet another company, whose vision is contemporary based. Fresh, modern advertising, product design and branded alliances with leading industrial and fashion designers have transformed what could have been another cheap discount store within the Kmart landscape into an affordable mass class, aspirational brand. There is nothing aspirational about dishwashing soap, mouthwash and lamp shades. However, design and styling have played a huge role in creating a voice so interesting that it does not matter. Target is simply the place to go and, most importantly, feel good about it ... whatever you may need.

Somewhere along the line someone said, through marketing and design, that a sneaker is the thing to wear. The sneaker was not only to wear, but to stand as an icon or representation of self esteem and stature. There is no reason why a fine German boardgame with its entertainment value and craftsmanship should not sell or have more appeal than it does. Yet, to most, it has the appeal of a smelly old shoe. Aesthetics, style and modernity can help brands rise above preconceptions and stand out in an ever increasingly clogged marketplace of game entertainment. Value creation toward this end through design creates desire and desire a more premium product.

So it is that great inspiration can be found through the links provided which I find myself daily revisiting.

– Mike