One of the most important things about automotive design is differentiation. The design language, particularly the face of a car has tremendous value. Above are some brands with the most recognizable faces in my opinion. Even with the logos removed, anyone reading this should have no difficulty identifying the make of the vehicles. This doesn’t mean that these cars necessarily have “good” design. However, I think the ability to become simplified and iconized has tremendous value. It makes products stick with us. Being remembered is the most efficient way to being purchased.
Simple and distinctive app icons are more recognizable. It sounds obvious but in practice, it’s harder than it sounds. Things work similarly in the hardware space. Proportions, location of features, the shape of a product all work together to make certain products rememberable.
Another example. Not really fair because pro-level DSLRs don’t really need to be iconic. Nevertheless, there is a reason why Leica’s are so idolized. I don’t think it would hurt if Nikon and Canon were able to differentiate from each other.
Many of the ideas I am presenting here may seem more shallow than my previous Coffee Time posts. However, I don’t think aesthetics and marketability should be overlooked. Reduction of complexity leads to ease of use in many cases. Above are 3 examples of PCs. The first is instantly harder to understand for the consumer. How does the angle get adjusted? Where are the ports? Where is the disk drive? The Vizio and the Apple on the right make interaction with the complex machine simple with the side benefit of being iconic.
By the way, I think Vizio has become the most attractive PC manufacturer. The MacBook Air is recognizable by the distinctive side profile, and the Vizio by the black underbelly. These elements become easily engraved in our minds.
Another interesting story is the Prius. Yes, the Prius is ugly. Yes, the Prius isn’t necessarily “high design”. But The Prius has a design that sticks. It’s particularly awesome because it is replacing the sales of the Toyota Camry. This means that it’s being cross-shopped with sedans. And in the bland family sedan market, the Prius really breaks the pattern. The bizarre design also helps it stand out on the road, which has the side benefit of driver being able show that they’ve bought a “green” car.
Obviously, the iPod is a prime example of a product that becomes iconography. The click wheel, the proportions, the materials, and of course, the white earbuds. The process to create an icon is not simple. I don’t believe that something can just be designed to stick with people. I think it’s a side affect of honest, and great design. It’s not like the click wheel was designed to look like a donut for marketing sake.