6 things that Apple can teach us about volumetric design

Earlier this year, we talked to you about volumetric design and why does it matter: we saw how, in the case of packaging, design not only helps consumers identify products, but also connect them to the brand by embodying its values.

At Little Buddha, we believe that volumetric design is crucial for a consistent corporate identity and this is why with our clients we try to design products, packaging, and brands that are instantly recognizable: to achieve this,  we are constantly seeking inspiration.

One of the companies that absolutely master volumetric design and its implementation in the overall strategy is Apple: from the first iMac launched in 1998 to the iPhone Pro launched last September, Apple product design always stands out and make everyone react, from consumers to professionals. But Apple’s focus on design is not limited to its products: stores, marketing campaigns, communication visuals, … whatever project Apple is involved in, design is an essential piece of it.

Because we love brands that inspire us, we are taking you on a journey to discover (or re-discover) 5 things that Apple can teach us about volumetric design.

Photo: marketingdirecto.com

Volumetric design requires focus

 On his days at Apple, Steve Jobs was acclaimed for how focused he was when trying to solve a problem. When it comes to design, Jobs wanted the focus to be on “how things work” instead of “how things look”: this statement tells us how Steve Jobs thinks about design. For him, a product needs to be designed according to the function it has and therefore, aesthetics are secondary in the design process.

Nowadays, design is usually thought of as “the looks” of something, this is what the consumer sees. But when we look at design from our professional perspective, we should ask ourselves: “what is the best way for our consumers to use our product?”

From there, we switch the problem we want to solve from “how do we make this look better” to “how do we make this feel better?”. This doesn’t mean that design isn´t about aesthetics, it means that aesthetics should be about delivering a better user experience.

Perspective matters

 In an interview with Vanity Fair a few years ago, Jony Ive – the now ex-Head of Design at Apple – explained how the tables on which are displayed the products on the Apple Stores are identical to the tables that the creative team of Apple works on in their studios. Apple’s ex CDO believed that if people experienced the product in the same environment he did, they were more likely to feel about it the same way he felt.

Perspective is important, and this means that as designers, we should help the consumer stand from where we stand to be able to look at things the same way.

Photos: engadget.com & 9to5mac.com

“Stay on Beginners”

One of the problems when a company expand and has a growing customers base is that the attention and efforts tend to be increasingly invested in giving these customers what they want in order to keep them their clients. Tony Fadell, Apple’s ex-Senior VP of the iPod division, tells us that if this strategy can indeed work to keep old clients, it sometimes prevents new customers to enter the game: as the product evolves, its complexity increases and require from users some experience and knowledge of “how things work”.

By staying on beginners, your design will allow users to instantly grab your product and use it as you intended them to, no matter if they have been customers for 10 years or a day.

Volumetric design team: “Have young people on your team”

Fadell, also known as the “father of the iPod” also talked about the fact that the more we are exposed to something, the more we get used to it and thus it becomes part of our reality.

When we face new problems, we tend to reflect this reality and use old ways that worked before to solve them. But by doing so, we sometimes restrain creativity and settle for some incremental improvement. So, having an unspoiled vision helps to look at things in a more “naïve” way which helps us do things differently, and most of the time better than we did before. This is why at Little Buddha we believe that having young people at the table considerably boosts creativity and helps to find new solutions to old problems.

“Designed in California, Made in China”

 If some of you still doubt the importance of volumetric design, take a moment and think about this statement. Why would Apple point out the difference between where its products were designed and where they were manufactured, when usually brands only tell us where the product was manufactured?

Design matters, and while China has a reputation of a professional manufacturer, Silicon Valley is still the reference in terms of design.

The takeaway of this? Get professionals to take care of your design.

The proposal is as important as the ring

Remember earlier when we said that it’s important to try and make things feel better? Well marketing is about experience, and when the product design can help connect with customers physically, it is as important (if not more) to connect with them emotionally, and that’s just what Apple does with the packaging of their products. When for a lot of companies, packaging is the box in which they will send you your product, at Apple, packaging is a way for them (and you) to make a statement. The iPhone’s box is an object that you will probably not throw away. You will keep it. You might even put it somewhere you can see because it’s a beautiful object, right?

Packaging is the first contact of the consumer with your brand. It is how you tell them “Hello, this is my product, I hope you enjoy it.”

Packaging can be thought of as a shipment box, but at Little Buddha – like at Apple – we look at it more as your ownable brand asset. Something that nobody else has. Something that will embody your values and tell everyone what your company is about.

Photos: Youtube – MKBHD

About the author: Bertrand Massanes | Managing Partner at Little Buddha
• Ex Managing Director at MPG art (Media Planning - HAVAS Media)

• Ex Marketing manager at Danone & Reckitt Benckiser Spain

• Ex Export Manager at Danone Paris & London
January 21st, 2020 | Branding
Little Buddha Brand Design Agency

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