Purpose. It’s a kind of naked word; one that hasn’t been hijacked by the buzzword-makers yet. At The Offices, we’re fascinated by the brand purpose our clients have. It spearheads our initial brand audit, and the resulting work we do for them.
Take the brand we’ve been developing for a radical young Australian industrial design firm. It’s offered fascinating insights into the different types of purpose such firms could have – from ‘stuff for the masses’ to ‘copy it to sell it’. In the case of our client, their purpose goes from product concept all the way to end-of-lifecycle disposal.
Concept-wise, their products meet real and sticky needs, such as better conference seating or smarter retail displays. After all, good product design does solve a problem – it doesn’t just imitate other work already in the market.
(Of course, even cashed-up consumers don’t stop to think about this often enough. Replicas of famous mid-century or 1970s designs are now so popular, we’re seeing stores in upmarket suburbs such as Sydney’s Balmain or Woollahra. They’re no longer a sneaky purchase from an unmarked warehouse suburb).
But back to brand purpose. It leads to another big question: whether the purpose is thought out across the full product lifecycle, long beyond the point it’s been bought by the right customer at the right store.
Pass through any suburb during council cleanup season, and the detritus of a throwaway society is fully in view. Office chairs with mangled caster wheel bases that can’t be fixed. Bookshelves with swollen chipboard poking through split melamine, never to be used again.
This is something that bugs us to no end. And yet each year, more outrageous products seem to fill our stores – such as Lipton’s new tea capsules (as if 50 million coffee capsules weren’t creating enough landfill), or flushable wipes that don’t break down in waste processing plants.
Which brings us back to the point about partnering with clients with purposeful brands, whose work is grounded in a rationale we can relate to.
We’re thrilled at this particular project, and feel like we’re part of a story that goes way beyond selling more products to more people. Apart from their ethical design concept and earth-friendly composition, these pieces are not expensive, making it unnecessary to buy a chintzy replica in the first place.
Best of all, remarkable products like these translate into remarkable brands. And that’s what we’re here to do, after all.