If you’re about to take a product to market, a strong identity is a key requirement. If you’re aiming for the stock market - it’s crucial!
It’s no coincidence that some of the UK’s most innovative and successful new products have all been launched with strong graphic identities. Innovation and quality alone are often insufficient virtues to guarantee success.
Design Company: The Association of Ideas
Business Type: Medical Equipment
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Prior to design: £95,000
After design process: £1m +
It’s a pity that the tag line “Helps you breathe more easily” has been taken as it could equally apply to the MicroVent – although the end benefits of this product are of slighter greater consequence than unblocking a stuffy nose – it helps save lives!
It’s a device that delivers oxygen to patients in potentially life-threatening situations. Used by emergency crews throughout the world, it was developed and manufactured by Halstead based MediTech Ltd, who sell the units through an ever expanding network for global distributors and agents. (Less than 20% of their output is for the home market).
The company has grown from its early roots in electronic components in the 1980s to become one of the leading lights in its field, if not the leading light, with a stock market flotation targeted within the next 8 to 10 years.
Identifying the need for design
According to MD, Chris Buckingham, the manufacturing sector is generally sceptical of, as he puts it; “the arty-farty professions”! MediTech was no different – but with good reason.
“Initially, we were concentrating on product development – lots of money going out, not much coming in, which is typical for a business of this type. When we did get to a point where we were able to take the product to market, we produced all the marketing material in house; our draughtsman even created our logo…well, he was the only one with a drawing board!”
Chris always knew that a professionally designed identity was at some stage going to be required – especially if they were to succeed on a global level.
The MicroVent may be the best on the market but it’s by no means the only one available. The company is aware of a least 6 other companies producing a similar product.
“It’s not as though any of these other products are substandard” notes Chris. “Features and quality are all governed by legislation and international standards – you’re simply not allowed to market an inferior product.”
With such tight competition, it was even more crucial to develop an identity that portrayed the brand values of MicroTech in a manner far superior to those of its competitors.
Business Link for Essex helped MediTech develop their strategy, using this as a basis for the design brief.
The designer, Duncan Moore, took some of the MicroVent units to Broomfield Hospital in Chelmsford and had them x-rayed. The images provided some interesting shapes, particularly when colour was applied to them.
This combination of technical insight captured through a medically related process seemed to encapsulate everything that MediTech was about and the images were used as the backdrop to a wide variety of marketing materials.
The logo was totally re-designed to create a modern, clinical image and works exceptionally well across all the elements.
Chris is justifiably delighted with the new identity. “We look much better than our competitors, by at least 10 times” he enthuses. “We now provide our distributors with much more proficient marketing materials and it’s also easier to attract new, quality agents since we introduced the new design”
Their adoption of the new identity extends beyond the expected. The company has produced guidelines on how letters should be presented, for example. “This may seem like going just that bit too far” admits Chris, “but is in fact very important. We’re trying to portray a slick, professional company, an image that can be damaged if you’re sending out correspondence using different fonts, in different sizes laid out in all manner of variations. What we’re saying is if we take that much care of the writing and presentation of a letter, imagine the quality of our product”
Many companies often question the true value of design asking “is it really worth it?” Well, consider this; in the last financial year before MediTech launched their new identity, they turned over £95,000. In the financial year since the design was launched, that figure has increased to in excess of £1million.
|They Say||We Say|
|Make sure the designers are on your wavelength and that you like them as people.||Design is a process that requires a great deal of personal input so it’s important that everybody is working from the same level. Getting on with them is thus an important part of this plus of course its much more pleasant to work with people you get on with.|
|Know your market||Knowing what is likely to stimulate them will enable you to write an excellent brief to get the results you want. If you don’t know your market, work with your designer to gain an understanding.|
|Agree a schedule||Designers can get very involved with the creative process - which is no bad thing - Talk to the designer to establish a timeframe that is workable without hindering the process.|