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Design Follows Personality

Jeroen van Erp

This paper is about a work model in which the company personality is the leading factor in the design process and has a major influence on how we perceive the products developed by a company, and which emotions it will evoke.

In design practice you are confronted with clients who, consciously or not, operate on the basis of their own characteristics. These can be separated into the product or service being marketed (behaviour), the way they speak to the consumers (communication) and the cultural values on the basis of which the company operates (symbols). Together, these three elements form the personality of the company, which is usually laid down in a mission statement and brand values. They represent the company’s genetic material. The emotions evoked by the products, made and developed by the client, can be derived from these company genes. The bandwidth and elasticity of what the company can achieve is limited by these elements, not only instrumentally (the product or service marketed) but especially in terms of communication and the cultural values the company stands for. And the bandwidth of emotions their products can arouse is therefore also limited. After all, major variations in these matters create implausibility in the consumer's mind. Unambiguous development of the corporate personality is crucially important.

In everyday design practice, the model presented has proven to bring about a match between a company’s strategy and user concerns, a match of personalities. Such a match ultimately results in a fulfilment of the concerns of the consumer and economic fulfilment on the part of the company. The paper will illustrate the practical value of this work model by means of a successful design case.

design practice, brand values, company personality, consumer concern