Apple discovered a very successful way of distinguishing itself from other hardware brands with its popsicle-colored iMac computer. Now software companies are wondering whether they can take a lesson from the "think different" mold-breaker and instill some image-conscious designs in their tech products.
Media 100, a Marlboro, Massachusetts, maker of streaming media production software, is scrapping the boilerplate Windows-style interface. The purpose: aesthetic branding à la iMac, but on the screen instead of in the housing. There will be a few new features, but it's the look and feel the company is banking on to distinguish itself. To lead that effort, Media 100 hired Santa Barbara, California, branding solutions agency Impossible Inc.
Robert Bailey, Impossible's chief technologist on the assignment, explains that rather than fight a "features war" with rivals to produce overly complex software, "we're designing an interface that makes features far more ergonomic, giving clients brand distinction where you rarely see it: on the desktop."
The Result, says Bailey, is an interface of "elegance, refinement and style" that offers instant identity in a crowded marketplace. Will it succeed in its mission or become just another pretty interface? Great new brands offer meaningful differentiation, not merely skin-deep tweaking. But with their mandate to make features work as elegantly as they look, it sounds as if the agency and its client are keeping that distinction top-of-mind.
Jerry Fisher, a freelance advertising copywriter, is also the author of Creating Successful Small Business Advertising.
- Impossible Inc., www.impossible.com