08 Feb 2019
The best brands do not get to the top on the back of outstanding advertising alone. Rather, an often overlooked part of the success of brands at the top in their field is the actual product quality. This is a particularly important factor of success in retail and other consumer brands that sell physical products. To give your consumer brand the best chance of success you must be aware of aesthetics and how they play into consumers’ perceptions of your product’s outstanding quality.
What is Aesthetic Intelligence?
The study of aesthetics is often relegated to artists. We tend to think of people like painters, graphic designers, 3D product designers, and other such professionals as the ones who should concern themselves with aesthetics.
Aesthetics spans the senses and is therefore naturally important for designers who work on products that appeal to sight, hearing, taste, touch, or smell. Working in any of these fields demands a high level of aesthetic intelligence.
In reality, however, whether you are a brand manager, a retailer, or someone who works for a company selling products, you can benefit from developing your aesthetic intelligence.
Aesthetic intelligence is a measure of your understanding of how aesthetics impact consumers in fulfilling their wants. In simpler terms, it’s defined as having “good taste.”
Aesthetics in Consumer Products
Good aesthetics can appeal to any of the five senses when delivered through a product. Different products work with different senses to create an aesthetic experience that is pleasing to the user. Users will gravitate to certain products based on how the products make them feel, often relying on aesthetics to guide them. The senses are involved in this process, as illustrated below:
- Sense of smell - The sense of smell is key in creating a high end fragrance for men or women.
- Sense of sight - A toy brand appeals to the sense of sight with artworks or figurines that are visually appealing to children.
- Sense of touch - A fashion brand will sometimes use premium materials such as leather to create a unique tactile feel for its products
- Sense of taste - A wine brand relies on the sense of taste for delivering a desirable brand experience through the taste of its wines
- Sense of hearing - Sports car brands will design their engines to emit aesthetically pleasing sounds without being unpleasantly noisy.www.pexels.com/photo/four-assorted-perfume-glass-bottles-965989/
If you are selling products to the consuming public, you can often improve the experience by honing your own understanding of how aesthetics impact the consumer. Such studies can result in improved product designs and better experiences that lift consumer happiness.
Examples of Brands that Get Aesthetic Intelligence
Some of the world’s biggest brands showcase stunning examples of aesthetics and aesthetic intelligence in their products. They might not have set out to create aesthetic masterpieces, but nonetheless prove that a good product has to treat aesthetics as a core concern. Below, we uncover the aesthetic intelligence behind these standout brands.
Image Credit: Verrou Chaine Mini Bag/Hermes International
Hermes - Visual Aesthetics
Hermes is a women’s fashion and accessories brand that prides itself on its aesthetics. A Hermes handbag is not only expensive, with costly materials and adornments, but serves as a status symbol for its owner. It’s typical to find Hermes handbags, smaller than a high school backpack, selling for $5,000 or more. Hermes communicates the essence of the brand through the visual aesthetics of its high end handbags. The materials are visually striking, with bags featuring leather, palladium plating, costly metal chain links, and other premium materials.
Image Credit: Hershey’s Cookie Layer Crunch/Hershey's
Hershey’s - Taste
As a brand that lives on the quality of its chocolate and candy, Hershey’s knows the importance of playing to the aesthetics of taste. According to Hershey’s website, the company has a rigorous approval process for the ingredients it relies on to deliver outstanding taste in its chocolates. Remarkably, just 4 ingredients make up over 80% of product volume in its products:
- Farm fresh milk - Hershey guidelines prescribe that fresh milk has to be turned into chocolate within 72 hours
- Almonds and other peanuts
The quality of these source ingredients is the crucial factor in creating a delicious line of chocolates and candies.
Image Credit: Facebook/Old Spice UK
Old Spice - Smell
Old Spice is a men’s deodorant and bath products brand. The company’s products and marketing campaigns play to the aesthetic of smell in order to make a compelling value proposition. Old Spice has fine tuned its products to identify the smells that appeal to its male demographic. In addition, the company assures buyers that if they use Old Spice products, they will smell like a man. This promise is hard to measure scientifically, but has been lucrative for this outspoken deodorant brand.
Image Credit: Taking Britain By Storm/Marshall
Marshall - The Power of Sound
Marshall amps are designed to be sonically pleasing to music players and fans in the harder genres of rock and roll. The company knows exactly who its most devoted fans are, and makes these amps just for them. They are loud, bold, and have plenty of power to boot. It’s hard to walk past them and not hear that something is happening. The ways that Marshall has mastered the aesthetics of hard rock guitar amplification can be attested to by the many rock stars that have historically sworn by Marshall. A typical owner of Marshall amps is rock icon Angus Young of AC/DC, one of the loudest bands in music, who unreservedly endorses Marshall’s amps and music gear.
Image Credit: Platinum High Mileage/Pennzoil
How these Brands Use Multiple Aesthetic Tactics
You might have noticed another common theme running through the case studies of the brands above. Not only do they focus on an aesthetic around one of the senses in their product, but they use tactics to communicate the aesthetics of their product in marketing materials.
For example, you cannot taste a Hershey’s chocolate or candy until you buy it, but the company makes clever use of its packaging to communicate the taste. The packaging uses alluring colors and images of the chocolate that telegraph the taste of the actual product. This is done through visuals and selection of packaging materials that augment the value of the actual product.
Another example is the use of visuals in packaging and marketing materials by perfume companies. Since you cannot smell the perfume unless you open the package, perfume brands like Chanel and Prada use visuals on the product packaging to communicate how the perfume smells.
The images used have to be congruent with both the product and the identity of the brand. For example, an expensive product will use high end images that communicate such brand characteristics as exclusivity. On the other hand, a more utilitarian product such as a brand of car oil could use imagery that emphasizes reliability over anything else.
Reclaiming the Power of All Your Senses
There are many ways to make use of the senses in ways that promote your products. Aesthetic intelligence is an essential skill that you can harness to infuse aesthetic value in everything your business does. This is particularly important for retailers or makers of physical products, including everything from clothing items, household goods, bath soaps, perfumes, wines, or beverages.
Tapping the power of the senses can help create an outstanding experience for fans of your brand. Learning aesthetic intelligence means improving your taste overall, to become good at understanding how product aesthetics choices will impact customers’ experience, for better or for worse. You will then be in a position to select the product aesthetic characteristics that will enhance and increase the customer’s delight in using your products.
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