Iconic designs are products that have ‘timeless user appeal’. They are all – time classics with an enormous touch of excellence and high standards. Iconic products are easily recognizable and elicit diverse emotional reactions. They could evoke nostalgia, ‘wow’ factor and great admiration.
The longevity of the iconic designs is a proof of superior characteristics and quality, unfading demand and blatant defiance to obsolescence. These brands have not attained their status by exclusively relying on heavy marketing but rather their universal appeal to consumers as a result of their superior features that has made them stand out. Marketing is only done to reinforce the status and protect market share from rivals staging aggressive market campaigns. There are several brands that have achieved the status of “Iconic” design (by merit) like; Coca-Cola, Nike, IKEA, APPLE and many others.
However, it is not all bliss for the Iconic designs and other potential design icons. In this age of mass production and globalization, product appeal is better achieved from effective marketing rather than standing out in design. This new trend of heavy marketing popularizes brands that may not be so good and compete out the real icons. This happens at different levels of production:
Iconic Designs Development
Before a new product enters the market, its developers must spend a good deal of finances and time in designing and testing concept. Both great designs and mediocre products must test-market a prototype to assess the new product’s potential sales and profitability. The market response determines whether to launch the product or not. Heavy marketing by big manufacturers with massive financial muscle many times see their average products easily received by consumers while other potentially more superior products are unable to break the ice
Introduction starts with launching of the product onto the market. This stage is characterized by low sales and high (advertising and distribution). Obviously the product is not profitable at this stage. Many great brands find these costs unsustainable and exit the market before they reach the growth stage. Large asset-base manufacturers are able to move their products right from introduction to growth stage within days or weeks.
Marketing plays a major role on which product succeeds in the market growth stage. With market saturation in many sectors, introducing a new product and growing a steady customer base is a challenging task. More aggressive marketers often manage to achieve a high level of repeat-purchasers. They consequently run more profitable operations than their counterparts. Many iconic brands exit the market or are acquired by larger companies who can run successful marketing campaigns effortlessly.
Market saturation is the other significant player in killing Iconic designs. A perfect illustration of market saturation is the smart phone industry. There are many brands with similar features in use in the market and the demand for smart phones is already on the decline globally. This saturation discourages any new entry of a new phone even if its design is phenomenal. It has also bred alienation of users to new designs where people prefer to continue buying the phones that are already popular amongst them and are likely to shun any new design that does not conform to the conventionally popular features. It follows that a lot of resources will be required to come up with a smart phone that will convince users it is superior to their current preference.
The above factors work together to deny some product designs that would have been iconic the chance to make it in the market. The meaning of an iconic design is also being lost to consumers in this age of marketing and mass manufacturing.