Category Archives: Design

Brand Strategy

Brand is a word that has many meanings. It can mean as little as an identifiable trademark (a name or logo) or it can be used to describe an entire business.  When it comes to savvy marketing what is key is that it is an idea that exists in the mind first and foremost.
So the moment you decide to create a business or cause, you have created a brand – it just exists in your mind alone.

Many organizations start to operate without a serious consideration of brand.   They start operations, and customers start to perceive their brand. Those that love the solution and how it is delivered, have positive brand associations. Depending on their experiences others will have negative or indifferent brand experiences. Still others may or may not be aware of the business and will go on considering only competing brands.

Over time, a company develops promises, positions, personality traits and attributes that are great, good-enough or unintentionally discourage proper awareness, consideration and loyalty. Businesses that are destined for greatness take ownership. They realize “we have a brand, whether we like it or not.” They will quickly make their brand work for them and not against them, and these businesses will recognize that they need to define their brand in a way which is authentic to their business and meaningful to their customer.  This is the essence of brand strategy – deciding how you are going to win in the mind of the customer.

(An extract from my notes and research while working towards my degree project on brand strategy)


Featured Design Pro: C.Sven Johnson

avatar_61340_cWXkykGbZfZgb4DV3GEq0ryS9Sharing thoughts with us today on transreality, virtual world and ‘Industrial’ design is U.S based Industrial Designer and Simulation developer: C.Sven Johnson. With more than 15 yrs experience in the field of design and engineering, we sure have a lot to learn from him.


Currently he runs ‘reBang’ : a Concept to CAD industrial design and 3D simulation/virtual world development services.
Can you explain us a little bit about what Transreality technology is?

It’s not so much about technology as it is using technology in a particular way. As I mentioned on Design Droplets , I’ve come across a few definitions of “transreality”, but for me, practically speaking and relevant to what I do as a traditional industrial designer, Transreality Design is, at its core, using the same CAD file for both 3D virtual simulation and for tangible manufacturing.

Beyond industrial design is where things become especially interesting, in my opinion; when Things (“smart” toys, appliances, aso) become spimes and eventually kirkyans .While a spime is, by definition, a singular “smart” object tracked remotely through space and time – presumably by some separate tracking device – a kirkyan is a multi-reality spime seamlessly moving information between a tangible representation and an intangible. This kind of information transfer augments the Experience tied to the Thing in all its instantiations because information can affect the Thing and, by extension, the User. This User Experience component sharpens the focus on Product Narrative; a topic which has gained increasing attention in some industrial design circles (link)and which is the basis for a long-term project I started two years ago.

The nexus, however, is the 3D data set. This is because we exist in three-dimensional space. It’s how we best interact with Things.

As an example, a change in a virtual object’s shape might be transmitted to the tangible object which – using morphable materials (e.g. electro-active polymers) – automatically modifies its shape to match its virtual doppelganger. This isn’t so different from sending one CAD file off to a 3D printer, modifying the file and then sending a new file for a revised 3D print. It’s mostly a matter of materials and data transmission. Vice versa, a change in a tangible object’s shape might trigger a modification in the 3D CAD representing it; something the film industry does routinely.

We can do some of these things now and there are new toys in development which are already exploring the possibilities.
Is the development of 3d objects for the virtual environment similar to the development of tangible products? What extra skill set does an industrial designer require to get into this field?

Similar in some surprising ways but dissimilar in many other ways. Interestingly, as industrial design increasingly shifts focus to “Experience Design”, it moves closer to virtual environment considerations where the experience is basically everything. That observation has probably not been made by many within the industrial design community because so few seemed interested in virtual goods. I believe that will change in the near future.

As for skill sets, that’s difficult for me to answer since, to my knowledge, there isn’t a standard transition path. Plus, it very much depends on the specific application.

For videogames there’s a lot of initial concept design work, so most industrial designers moving into that arena would probably need to be able to quickly generate high-quality sketches and orthographics. This is mostly because, generally, the game designer is responsible for designing the experience, and dedicated 3D modelers will create the assets. Traditional sketching will be, in my opinion, the skill upon which industrial designers fall back upon.

For virtual worlds it’s a bit more open-ended. An industrial designer might enter the virtual goods market and sell their work directly in applications like IMVU, Second Life, and Blue Mars; or they might be involved in helping to design experiences – which includes everything from developing a virtual product with its own virtual user interface, to constructing virtual facilities for educational or corporate training efforts in applications like Teleplace or OLIVE.
Do you feel your aerospace engineering background helped in your development as a designer and how?

I think it both helps and hurts.

It helps in that I have a much deeper understanding of mathematics, physics, fluid mechanics and other technical disciplines, and so I tend to ask questions most industrial designers might not think to ask in the early stages of a project.

It hurts in that many industrial designers believe engineers are inherently uncreative, and so I encounter some bias from the stereotype. Conversely, there are some engineers which doubt my analytic abilities until I sit down and derive some equation or otherwise put my engineering expertise to use.
Tell us something about your project ‘Stray Toasthed‘..If this project is not going to be economically beneficial, then what will drive the manufacturers to produce this toy?


Well, for one thing, there is no intent for a manufacturer to produce the resulting toy. Quite the opposite. This would be a design intended for individuals and small businesses who can make and sell it as they please using increasingly powerful consumer-level CNC machines. So for them, it could be very profitable as it brings corporate-level industrial design to people and businesses who might not otherwise be able to afford it.

Once the community has funded the design work, the community effectively owns it. There would be no licensing or other restrictions for individuals or small businesses. Only big businesses – as defined by those who actually fund the effort – would be subject to restrictions, as they would pay a licensing fee and royalties should they wish to mass produce the toy. Money from such an agreement would then mostly go to charity, as explained in the project brief.

Consequently, there is economic benefit. It’s just not benefitting large corporations.
You believe that “Industrial” design is where do you see design heading now?

I believe Industrial Design is dead in the sense that the original mandate – to design products within “industrial” constraints – is no longer valid.

When I worked at Rubbermaid, everything had to be plastic; whether or not plastic was the best material. That’s changed. While there are certainly plenty of companies which still require their designers to develop product solutions with their core manufacturing competencies in mind, as more and more products become commodities, the differentiation is in the product itself and not in the production process. In an increasingly competitive global economy, it’s no longer good enough to have a satisfactory product made from a satisfactory material using a satisfactory process only for the sake of a “this is how we’ve always done it” business mentality.

As for where Industrial Design is headed, I think it’s fragmenting, mostly because the original mandate no longer stands. Industrial designers are now moving into User Experience Design or Human-Computer Interface Design or some other new field as technology and virtualization encroach upon restrictions traditional inherent in tangible goods. Where there used to be human factors for physical buttons, we increasingly have a UI specialist designing variable, customizable interfaces. With electro-active materials, even the tangible becomes variable. Things are no longer static.

In the end, I think industrial designers are getting what they’ve always claimed to want: freedom. However, the old saying, “Be careful what you wish for, you might get it” applies. There’s quite a bit of career confusion out there right now and young designers are increasingly being forced to decide which new subset of (Industrial) Design they wish to pursue.
You spoke about how ‘future children will be modeling their own cars using a web-based application, playing with them in an online virtual world, sharing/selling components, and even sending their designs to rapid-manufacturing shops for fabrication’..won’t such mass customisation lead to chaos?

I don’t believe so, as I don’t recall reading in the history books how pre-Industrial Revolution toys were chaotic.

Play-doh is customizable. So is the sand in a sandbox. Even Legos have an element of customization as part of their DNA. I’ve never heard consumers express concern for such things. The only people who seem concerned about customizable products are those designers who believe their solution is the best and only solution.

It’s an odd attitude for an industrial designer to take, in my opinion, considering we design mass-produced objects with inherent compromises in order to please the greatest number of people to maximize sales and corporate profits. Surely the ability to modify a product to better fit one’s hand – or even one’s personal aesthetic – should be acceptable to industrial designers. We’re not artists, after all.

The real key and where I believe we’ll find a worthwhile challenge is in placing limits on customization.
Is the new wave of social networking affecting designers..if yes how?

I think it’s beginning to affect designers, but as a group we don’t seem especially engaged or interested with these developments.

One example of how social networking is affecting industrial designers is this interview. If not for Twitter, you’d likely never have read the things I’ve written, learned of the Stray Toasthed effort or contacted me. You’re a world away. Likewise, I enjoy reading comments from designers in different parts of the world. I personally believe it’s important for designers to at least have some understanding of other cultures, and social networking facilitates the kinds of interactions which promote better understanding.
If designers are bound by big corporations, what according to you will liberate designers from their clutches?

Options. There used to be a time when people crafted their own product and sold it for a living. It’s not really been that way for a couple of centuries, but as increasingly sophisticated tools – both for design and fabrication but also for marketing/advertising/selling/etc – migrate down to individuals, I believe to some degree we’ll return to those practices. You can see it already in sites like Etsy, Ponoko, and Shapeways.
Any advice for the students who will be entering in the industry?

My advice would be to pay less attention to the exceptions in the design world – Apple, IDEO, Samsung, aso – and better understand the typical industrial designer work experience. There’s a significant amount of press around a very few companies and the truth is many if not most graduates won’t be in a business environment in which industrial design is highly regarded. Instead, they can expect to have their work second-guessed and often go unappreciated.

There’s a reason so many designers burn out at a relatively early point in their career and I believe having a better handle on what to expect might lead to longer careers which, in the end, benefits us all as we become a greater force in business

We at Symbiosis Design thank Mr. C.Sven Johnson for taking time off and sharing his thoughts with us. We look forward to more such interactions in future with him.
Check out his amazing work on coroflot
Connect on twitter: reBang

Please do comment on any thoughts, questions, discussions about this interview below.

Is this the End of Legends?

When the king of pop Michael Jackson died, people in the world pondered over whether this was the end of the Legends. The people who not only get recognition in their time, but are also remembered by future generations of the world for their contributions and distinctive style. People like Elvis Priestley, Marilyn Monroe….
I understand why those people worry. In this day and age, its like every one’s out to get FAME. Not so much appreciation and respect for their talent, FAME. And more often than not, they seem to get it. A few examples:
1. A former bar dancer turned ‘item’ girl has become the most talked about ‘celebrity’, and after publicly abusing almost everyone in the public eye, and taking part in endless reality shows, she complains about how the media is after her, and how people should ‘take her seriously’.
2. Actors are now famous more for their dressing sense and public appearances than their contribution to the art. So the secret to making it these days- a Gucci bag in one hand, an influential person in the other…
3. Even a so-called Swami (or yoga-nut), thinks he should make his opinions heard on topics that have no relation to anything he does. And even then, makes a fool of himself..(Homosexuality is not a disease…greed for money is)
And those are just a few of the many examples that would reinforce the fact, that in our time, there is no such person who will go on to be a Legend. So I join those people who worry.


Part 3 of 3 

In a perfect world , a builder would erect a building. This building would go on to become a hospital with great doctors, tending to patients by giving them accurate treatment. The engineer would keep the hospital from breaking down by upgrading and fixing the equipment and other electronic facilities. Lastly, a lawyer would take care of any problems that could arise to maintain a balance between the society , the hospital and the individuals.

Where does the designer feature?   Well, at every step.

It is designer the one who designs the building to start with! And he is the ‘architect’. A designer will design the furniture, the instruments and better machines-he is the ‘Product designer’. A designer will organize the workflow and how the hospital utilities can be better used- he is the ‘User Experience Designer’. It is the designer who designs the uniforms of the patients and the doctors- he is the’ fashion designer’, the designer who devices the map to the hospital and the signage and symbols is the ‘Graphic Designer’. The designer even designs the forms and paperwork required – this is the ‘Typographic designer’.

A designer is needed to design the building as well as the appearance of letters on a piece of paper!

And yet, yet, when I say to someone that I am studying to become a designer, they think it is all a cake walk easy and fun. It is assumed that design is only applied to fashion, and if it has any other applications at all, all that is needed to excel is the art of sketching.It is assumed that design is an Art course after all.

These old schoolers assume that a profession as dull and monotonous as that of an engineer requires an intellect far greater than that required by Design.Not true.

It is important to know that a great design cannot be thought of without intellect. Intellect is the root and the base of design. It is mandatory.

It is easier to become a great doctor or a lawyer or even an engineer, because in these professions one has to practice and learn. In design , practice and learning is tacit, it is something that goes. We learn and practice the principles and elements of design, the technicalities of software , the crafts or making different things . Once this is done we get onto our job of creating. A designer has to create and creating something is not as easy as practice or learning. Other professions stop where we start. They have limits, we don’t.

However, only a handful of non designers understand this and respect this. Others act like we are supposed to make things new and interesting, without realizing how much goes into creating or recreating something. Designers are not appreciated. I am not saying people should walk up to these great designers and thank them, but it would be wonderful for a good design to just be relished and enjoyed by all.That is all the appreciation designers can wish for.

A good design is never noticed but a bad design always is. That- is the job of a designer.


Part 2 of 3

 ……Those of us who are Old School dont consider design to be as great a profession as that of medicine or engineering.Design to them is a new age fun do, A passaz. Why? There has to be some logic behind this.Here is what I think …

Back to the olden days, the basics..A doctor –is a healer, an engineer –a technician, a lawyer– our defender. But a designer? Is there no basic need for a designer to fulfill? I think as we have evolved as a society, we have come to notice that these are the people that make the world go round. However designers are the ones who keep the spinning continuous and consistently uniform. We keep things running and device new and interesting way to keep them running better.

Take this scenario for example:

 In a perfect world , a builder would erect a building. This building would go on to become a hospital with great doctors, tending to patients by giving them accurate treatment. The engineer would keep the hospital from breaking down by upgrading and fixing the equipment and other electronic facilities. Lastly, a lawyer would take care of any problems that could arise to maintain a balance between the society , the hospital and the individuals. So where does the designer feature?

The answer to this question and a final conclusion in part 3.


“I am studying in a Design College” — and the moment I utter these words to a non designer – I get stereotyped. What then is this stereotype? I have gathered that a stereotypical designer is– different from the crowd,” in their own world”, eccentric, philosophical, impractical, spontaneous. Because I am a designer I am granted things that many are not. I am granted individuality (shouldn’t everyone be granted that anyway??). We can have a different style of dressing and have our own ideas about anything and everything and (because we are ‘designers’) we will not be refuted, argued or even mocked at. We can be quirky, boring, rude, anything at all. Today, people are more tolerant to a designer’s eccentricities- thanks to our stereotyping. So tolerant, that these are ignored until we are way over the limit.

When I see it this way, I rather like it.

Our deviations are granted to us by a single thought- She’s a designer…no wonder. That stereotypical thought is the answer to all reactions and outrage our actions elicit in the past present and even the future. Nice.

If you compare the stereotypes, that of a designer’s and philosopher’s gets the most similar response. Doesn’t that say something?

Those of us who are Old School dont consider design to be as great a profession  as that of medicine or engineering. Design  to them is a new age fun-do,  a passaz. Why? There has to be some logic behind this. And here is what I think …

More about this in my next article.


Here’s a bit about what we have learnt in 3 years of communication design..article written by Nisha D’ Souza..

During the past year we were introduced to each of the four specialization fields i.e. UED, Film and Video, Animation and Graphic Design.We worked on a vast number of varying projects related to each of the aforementioned fields.This way, we would know what exactly we were getting into in the next year towards our Degree.

We learnt the  basics on advertising – how to design packages, posters, and campaigns of course. Photography was another aspect we studied.It was fascinating to learn that lighting, aperture and shutterspeed can make or break a picture- and how! We were left wanting more eagerly ready and waiting with more questions in our minds- how a camera functions, how pictures are taken from different angles, perspective,its application on software’s and daily use. Not only did we learn script writing from our experienced and esteemed Head of Department-Mr.Anand James, but also learnt more about packaging advertising and animation from external faculty.The introduction to User Experience Design was taken by Abhijeet sir- very enthusiastic and a motivating (alumni and then)guest faculty.He guided us in learning how to make a tutorial and also designing a kiosk! We had crash courses in Adobe Photoshop and Dreamweaver.All in all it was a fun filled learning experience.During year 3 of my course we also learnt how web designing plays a key role in creating websites that provide whole new world of relative opportunity. We learnt the importance of  stationary, symbol, logo and identity design and their respective role in the corporate world today.With our major 31 days of photography and a gargantuan submission for the same, I bet we’d be thorough with out camera and composition to take a perfect or near perfect shot everytime!

Today’s industry is looking for responsible, punctual, dedicated creative minds with artistic talent and technical skill on computer applications which is a rare gem these days. One has to further look for opportunities to use this creative and artistic talent, in the beginning as an emerging new career most of us would have to offer to work for others just for the sake of experience and realisation with regard to which further specialisation one has most affinity towards. Most graphic designers work on freelance projects and are able to get in touch with clients…but some prefer working for others in various companies and advertising firms while others may want to set up something of their own, maybe a design studio or a publishing house or an advertising agency..anything is possible when you have a keen and creative mind to back up your enterprise with! The employment rate is expected to grow in the graphic artists field by 2014.Fingers crossed and hoping for the best.

uring the year as part of socio- cultural design projects most of us were made to work on live projects which involved a lot hardwork but nevertheless a fun filled experience with learning and inspiration gained from our resources,professors,books and other rich sources.