Monthly Archives: October 2010

So the dissertation begins …

19th October

This time our study group met up to discuss the beginning of our dissertation topics by brain storming and mind mapping allowing us to develop and refine our topic. Each of us briefly described our research so far and discussed how our interests brought us to the topic.

We recorded our research on a group mind map to allow us to reflect on the groups ideas. A few of the group members took their wiki subjects further as it was a topic they were very interested in and had a lot of research for (Mhairi McDowall, Ethical Labour). Claire McCreath’s topic related specifically to her design discipline, Textiles, looking at the way people interact with objects and textiles – the touch, feel and textures of fabrics.

After the initial group meeting i took my subject and researched further into my idea and interest in my subject for the dissertation with the use of spider diagrams and mind maps.

For my topic I am looking at the physiological effect that spaces can bring to human experience. It is a broad term that needs refining but it is starting point at the least. My mind map takes me through different aspects that effect the research for this topic. Senses, atmosphere, awareness, experience and the simple idea of “what makes a home a home?”. I will look at the physical aspects of a space and environment that would affect the emotions, feelings and atmosphere for the user; what factors are relevant to create an experience and also the perception of space.  

On the 27th we will be taking part in a dissertation workshop to allow us to develop our topics further and help us move on in the process.


Branding and Design

Fiona Sichi  

Interior and Environmental Design



A brand can be defined as a symbol of values and identity for a company, product or services that allow consumers to differentiate between similarities in the market. Branding can come in the form of logos, advertising and slogans, each designed specifically for the purpose of characterising the uniqueness of a company’s goods. “The brand needs to convey a clear and more appealing brand personality than any other brand in its sector.” (Lightfoot, 1998, p.46). A company’s brand is the image that consumers recognize and remember so the importance of a brand is essential in the success of a company.  

The values of successful brands reach the emotions of consumers, embracing the connections and relationships that they may have towards a certain brand and ensuring their trust in that product. “By emotional I mean how a brand engages consumers on the level of the senses and emotions; how a brand comes to life for the people and forges a deeper, lasting connection.” (Gobe, 2001, p.xiv) This “connection” certifies a level of loyalty that lies with the customer’s perception of the brand’s identity, it can lead to success however a violation of this trust could leave a company’s name in pieces.

“If the brand image becomes tarnished through a media scandal or controversial incident or even a rumour spread via the internet, then the company as a whole can find itself in deep trouble.” (Haig, 2003, p.3)

“Companies live or die on the strength of their brand” (Haig, 2003, p.4)  



Taking the term “brand” right back to its Germanic roots we find it refers to the expression “to burn” (Healy, 2008, p.6). This relates to the task of literally burning a brand into the cattle that you owned in order to promote ownership of your livestock. This earlier branding concept focused primarily on the possession of goods however as time passed the development of branding as an advertisement method progressed.

In the times of the Greeks and Romans shopkeepers had to indicate to their customers what, who and where they sold their goods in order for the public to distinguish between the different merchants. In these early times the beginnings of ‘logos’ were appearing, designed to hang in shop windows to indicate the purpose of that shop. “In classical times most potential purchasers of most products were illiterate…” (Room, 1998, p.14) The ‘logos’ of such took the form of basic pictures, these images were very literal and helped the customer identify visually exactly what, who and where to find their desired goods. “…a butcher’s shop would display a sign depicting a row of hams, a shoemaker a boot…” (Room, 1998, p.13)   

As the modern revolution of branding progressed the development of mass production was intensifying and many companies feared for the public reaction to brands that conformed to this process. The 1880’s marked the stage in advertising and marketing when many companies developed brand identities that would ease the consumer into the idea of mass produced products. “Brand identities were designed not only to help these products stand out, but also to reassure a public anxious about the whole concept of factory-produced goods.”(Haig, 2003, p.3) Consumers were used to their advertising and branding being on a personal level with their local grocer; their beliefs in the values of the product they regularly bought were placed in the image of their “friendly shopkeeper”. A concept to shift this trust to the mass produced brands was to bring in a “human element”.

“By adding a ‘human’ element to the product, branding put the 19th century shopper’s minds at rest. They may have once placed their trust in their friendly shopkeeper, but now they could have placed it in the brands themselves, and the smiling faces of Uncle Bens or Aunt Jemima which beamed down from the shop shelves.” (Haig, 2003, p.3)   

These brands formed their own personality that mirrored the values of the product and allowed the consumer to forge a relationship with the brand through the characterisations that represented the company.

As branding develops further through history its connotations immerge broader; now places, people and experiences can become brand themselves opening up opportunities for corporations to embrace this breed of advertising.  


Fig 1: Aunt Jemima the face of the brand that brings the “human element” to the relationship between consumer and brand. 


Branding and Design

“I believe that design is the most potent expression of a brand and that ultimately bringing powerful ideas to life through design is the best way to create a lasting link between a manufacturer or retailer and the consumer.” (Gobe, 2001, p.107)

This statement characterises design’s relationship with branding, many other people agree with Gobe’s theory; Matthew Healey (2008) “Design is the single most important tool in branding”. The strength of these claims argue that without the help from designers, companies would fail (or be less successful) in the marketing of their brands.

When designing brands the apparent qualities that are pin-pointed are the form and aesthetics of the logo, but there is more to it than that when designing the visual aspect of the brand. Package design is important to developing a brand as well as sensory and emotional design. These aspects are all very essential to design but without the cooperation of a company the application of these objectives becomes obsolete.

“We are now on the verge of a renewed partnership between corporations and designers. Corporations need innovative designs along with a strong understanding of trends in the marketplace to compete and reach a blasé consumer…These are the companies that will succeed in the twenty-first century.” (Gobe, 2001, p.114)

Proof of this effective role that design has on the image and values of a brand can be seen in the well known brand Gillette – “The best a man can get”. – This slogan for the company depicts the message that the brand wishes to portray; quite literally that you cannot get any better product than this in the “world of shaving”. The best way to depict these values was through the package design of the product, the image of the product that consumers would see on the shelves. “Visuals communicate better than words.” (Gobe, 2001, p.113). The packaging would have to sell the brand to its best qualities and try to capture the consumer’s desires through the design of the brand because the only concrete way a consumer would benefit the full use and understanding of the product would be to effectively shave. “After all, the blades can only speak for themselves when you shave!” (Gobe, 2001, p.113). 

They proposed innovative designs for the innovative product that reinforced the best technology of the blade but in the form of visual design rather than an informative description of how the product meets the needs of the consumer. How the handle of the razor was designed determined the message it gave to the consumer. The design represented the “freshness and technology in line with the core image of the Gillette brand.” (Gobe, 2001, p.114). After this marketing scheme Gillette “considers design to be the lifeblood of its business.”


 Fig 2: Gillette Sensor showed the importance design has on branding. 


Gobe, M. (2001). Emotional Branding. New York: Allworth Press.

Haig, M. (2003). Brand Failures. London: Kogan Page.

Hart, S. and Murphy, J. (eds.) (1998) Brands. The New Wealth Creators. London: Macmillan Press LTD.

Healey, M. (2008). What is Branding? Switzerland: RotoVision.

Julier, G. (2008). The Culture of Design. London: Sage.

Lury. C. (1996). Consumer Culture. Cambridge: Polity Press

Fig 1: The New York Times. 2007. Aunt Jemima Image. (Online) [Accessed 6 October 2006]. Avaliable at:

 Fig 2: Gobe, M (2001). Emotional Branding.(p.113) New York: Allworth Press


Branding and Design Mind Mapping

Mind Mapping

This method of research allowed me to catagories and reflect apon my research found in books that i studied for this topic. The proocess made sure that when I wrote up my Wikipedia entry that I never missed out valuable information. It helped me keep tabs on the refrences I used for each quote in order to write up a correct bibliography.

Design History Theory and Practice

Working in groups allows us develop skills within a team orientated atmosphere; an environment that will continually be put in front of us through our professional careers. Our group meeting are important to the structure of our assignments allowing us to collaborate and interact, the recording of these meetings are also essential as they help with the process of researching.

As our first assignment is to produce a “Wikipedia” entry that is centred within the design subjects (selected from a list of subjects) an initial meeting was set up so that we could discuss and choose topics for our entry.


16th September 

Our initial group meeting was fairly easy as no one chose topics that were the same; everyone’s first choice was the subject that they got. We then went on to discuss how we would go on to research our chosen subject as a starting point to the assignment. Listening to everyone’s approach to researching the subject allowed us to take tips and suggest alternative methods for our group members to take.

Me – Branding and Design

Andrew – Digital Economy and Design

Kitty – Crime and Design

Thomas – Social Networking and Design

Justin – User centred design and Design

Mhairi – Ethical Labour and Design

Mairi – Perma-culture and Design

Claire – Consumer Culture and Design

Before ending the meeting we made sure to get contact information and arrange another meeting in a week’s time, when we would discuss our research so far in the form of a mind map.

23rd September

The follow up meeting allowed us to compare notes and mind maps and allowed us to contribute to each of our group members topics. A fresh eye for the topic was a good approach to helping us get further into the subject, as we are all from different disciplines we can each add a different input to the group. From our individual mind maps that we had created we then created a larger one that included all of our topics and encouraged us to discuss further into the subjects.

We will be meeting up again to discuss our finale “Wiki” entries before we submit them in order to check that we have all followed the guild lines to the assignment.