Building consumer brands through great product design
We help achieve this by understanding the people we are creating products and services for. We explore their aspirations, lives and the influences which form their agendas and create their value hierarchy. Then, we craft relevant products that resonate by offering users an experience they value and enjoy. These user experiences create warmth and loyalty towards brands enabling them to flourish.
When brand meets product
In order for brands to build relationships with users, they need to create holistic experiences. These experiences should reflect their needs and desires, be emotionally meaningful and add value to their lives.
Through aesthetics, kinaesthetics and acoustics, we help the most enlightened brand owners harness and control all the senses to create products that integrate and amplify multi-sensorial brand experiences.
Colour, Material and Finish
The most subtle difference in a texture can alter the entire value of a product and in turn how a brand is perceived.
The ability to specify and control the colour, material and finish of a product is critical to controlling the overall brand experience.
Through an understanding of design trends and semiotics our design and research teams help develop an understanding of how different colours, materials and finishes (CMF) will be perceived by your users. We not only recommend the right CMF strategy to communicate your product's qualities, but, most importantly, how this CMF strategy can be implemented and controlled through production and use.
How does your brand look?
Think of your product range as a family. Each product a different family member with both an individual character and a common visual DNA.
Many brand owners now understand the power of 3D design for their products and packaging, and have defined their brand’s 3D visual brand language (VBL). This is sometimes referred to as a brand’s visual DNA. A 3D VBL defines a set of flexible guidelines and principles for the 3D expression of your brand. This helps bring both a consistent look and feel to a range of products, as well as differentiating them from their competitors, by conveying key messages about a brand’s values in a way which is immediately recognisable.
How does your brand feel?
The way the product feels impacts the way the user feels. Adopting a multi-sensorial approach to brand design opens up a wealth of opportunities to influence the way people experience your products and packaging every day.
Our engineering team work with our research and design teams to understand, specify, measure and control these sensory interactions. This delivers repeatable, rich and appropriate kinaesthetic experiences at every point in the user journey.
Product in a brand ecosystem
Brands have become ecosystems. They are now organic, constantly evolving through a two way conversation with the user.
In this ecosystem the product can still be essential but it is no longer the only significant manifestation of the brand promise. Product design’s responsibility is to understand the context of the whole ecosystem, thinking beyond the artefact to help create a holistic experience which is itself authentic for the brand. When we design a new product we consider this ecosystem through the lenses of service, point of sale, packaging, digital apps and immersive brand environments. This allows the creation of products that are both the essential part of a system and a holistic part of a brand.
We understand the challenges and complexity of delivering against ambitious sustainability targets. We apply strategic creativity to propose design solutions that more efficiently manage resources throughout a product’s life cycle.
Sustainability also shouldn’t compromise desirability. Reversing the effects of climate change will undoubtedly require solutions that shift established consumer behaviours but we are discovering that these can present our clients with great opportunities for innovative and positive new brand experiences.
Injecting meaning into everything the brand does helps to create positive, lasting, emotional connections with your consumer – beyond any single touch-point or product experience.
By crafting every physical and digital interaction, we create clear, relevant and distinctive experiences. Engaging sight, sound, smell and of course touch, all help form strong emotional connections with the brand - throughout the consumer journey.
Considering every touch-point from a user perspective ensures all interactions can build curiosity, engagement and lead to richer connection between the consumer and the brand. This can have significant impact on brand perception, enhances brand image and can engender passionate brand loyalty.
Areas of expertise
These scenarios could be providing leadership when clarity and direction is needed at the uncertain front end, it could be developing technical complex products and connected systems or crafting a premium consumer experience across physical and digital touchpoints. Below we have outlined some of our recent areas of expertise.
If you are in a hurry, please use these links to specific areas of expertise; if not, enjoy a browse and just scroll down.
Design for FMCG
We help Fast Moving Consumer Goods brands (Consumer Packaged Goods) appeal to new users, expand into new markets and create unique ways to deliver product benefits to new and existing consumers.
Our brand awareness and technical creativity help to deliver engaging and memorable user experiences. We make them easier to use, more attractive, more inclusive and more sustainable. We improve their functionality, make them more robust, more reliable, more efficient to manufacture and ultimately more profitable.
By combining our deep understanding of brands with our expertise in drug delivery, backed by an incomparable track record of creating commercially successful and award winning designs for pharmaceutical and medical device clients.
Whether it is encouraging kids to brush their teeth, creating inclusive user friendly pain relief medicine packaging for Osteoarthritis suffers or enabling the Rx to Cx switch of market leading drugs and medicines we are ideal partners for the development of high volume, low cost packaging, devices and refill systems.
We create memorable equities which consumers instantly recognise and enshrine the values of your brand.
Our team include specialist structural packaging designers with decades of experience, who have worked with the broadest range of packaging materials and manufacturing processes.
We understand how to deliver distinctive, engaging and functional packaging which meets your technical and cost constraints. Be it primary, secondary, tertiary or eCommerce packaging, we know how to stretch existing constraints to deliver innovative pack solutions that create value for your business.
Leading home tech futures
We help Home Tech brands grow by connecting their consumers and users with the future, through the creation of delightful and relevant experiences. Multi-sensory experiences that cross seamlessly between the physical and digital worlds.
We are uniquely placed to help achieve this through a world-class expertise in brand, UX, design and engineering - mechanical, hardware and software. Over 70% of the projects at DCA connect physical products to a broader digital ecosystem. Our expertise and specialism in this field, alongside our multidisciplinary design approach, sensory capabilities and engineering, means that we can help identify, design, iterate, test and develop connected Home Tech products. We believe that these Home Tech futures should be successful for our clients, their users and our planet.
We have many years experience at moving, mixing and packaging liquids.
So whether you are seeking to - deliver exceptional quality of freshness, flavour or fizz; enable greater levels of customisation or on-the-go convenience; support nutrition and tracking; reduce waste and shipped weights; or deliver the best experience in class: we have the tools and the experience to help you achieve it.
Our process blends evidenced-based mathematical processes (to simulate and optimise system performance) with physical experiments and prototypes (to inform and validate). Our approach can help you rapidly optimise the development process to deliver an experience which really matters to the consumer and to the planet.
Our team have many years experience working in the beauty and personal care and luxury goods categories.
This enables us to keep up to date with the latest trends. We are able to combine our work across many other related categories to inform innovative packaging and device solutions.
We recently created Sākuru as a hypothesis for the near-term future of cosmetics. It envisions a likely world where digital technology and social media drive cosmetics to be more agile, creative and personal than ever before. Sākuru allows users to print personalised make-up palettes in their own home from reusable cartridges, making single-use plastic packaging a thing of the past.
Whether we are creating competitive advantage for elite tri-athletes, systems for enabling divers to explore further, or more effective solutions to protect and empower cyclists; our human centered approach and focus on technical robustness and safely criticality enables us to create solutions which are enabling, supportive and only ever add to the experience.
We combine our design methodologies with opportunities in new materials and technology to create next-level performance for athletes, thrill seekers and outdoors enthusiasts everywhere.
Our role in your front end innovation
The essence of design is to make a plan. We as designers are comfortable with uncertainty and ambiguity. Through design leadership we help to guide our clients to the future by creating clarity where there is uncertainty. This clarity enables alignment and action.
Our multidisciplinary team achieve this through a balance of creativity and an understanding of how to control risk. We provide a unique combination of knowledge in brand, people, design, and technology. We combine this with an understanding of the appropriate type and level of innovation that is right for your brand, your capabilities and the market timing. With this knowledge and our capability to visualise, prototype and test any product or service at any scale, we can help you create a plan and nurture new ideas through to successful products and services.
Tackling technical complexity
Over half the people at DCA are engineers. Mechanical, electronic and software.
Great products don’t exist without great engineering. Seems obvious, but it is amazing how many consumer products are let down by poor engineering that lacks creativity, care and rigour.
We specialise in products with a high level of technical complexity. This complexity may be due to very high volumes or simply a challenging specification. The integration of our engineering team throughout a project boosts both creativity and rigour. This ultimately achieves products with purpose and soul through beautiful aesthetics, elegant engineering and intuitive usability.
We don’t design something, then engineer it.
We often hear of technical teams being handed ‘creative ideas’ and asked to make them work. At DCA we do not work like this. Our research, design and engineering teams integrate, align and create together from day one leading to a dramatic increase in creativity.
Designing for high volume, low cost, high quality
Controlling the brand experience at very high volumes can be a challenge. Its starts with building quality into every part.
High volume, low cost production does not have to mean low quality. When designing for high volume a ‘one in a million’ fault can be a major problem. Our people and processes enable excellence to be engineered into every part, and into the whole assembly process. This helps to deliver a robust and engaging sensorial experience for the user – every time. At DCA we call this ‘engineering the experience’.
Engineering the circular economy
What goes around, comes around. Since the industrial revolution, waste has constantly grown. This is because our economy has been based on a take, make, use and dispose pattern of consumption.
Moving towards a more circular economy requires us to question current manufacturing paradigms. At DCA when we develop a new consumer product, we not only consider how we can re-use and recycle existing materials, packaging and products, but how we can more efficiently manage all the resources throughout the product’s life cycle.
Testing and rigour
Will your product cope with every anticipated use in every expected environment? Can it be manufactured efficiently, with low rejection rates? Will it function at all extremes of tolerances?
At DCA there is a culture of conscientious rigour. Our concurrent approach to design and engineering helps build in rigour from the outset, not bolt it on at the end. Through real and virtual analysis and testing, we help reduce the likelihood of product failure, launch delay and ease the transition from design to manufacture.
New to you
Are you attempting to do something you have never done before?
The only constant is change. Consumers change, markets change. The whole landscape in which your products exist is continually evolving. Brands that don’t innovate are overtaken by competitors who do. To keep ahead, you are often trying to do something you have never done before.
We can help increase the probability of success when attempting something new. Whether updating an existing product to maintain its relevance or creating an entire new category, we can help deliver these new opportunities to address the changing needs, ambitions and desires of your consumers.
Packaging meets devices
Packaging is no longer merely a ‘dumb’ container for solids, liquids or powders but is now an integral part of a brand’s communication.
Structural packaging has evolved to become an integral part of a product's delivery; helping people use, pour, measure and store the end product. In effect, packs have turned into devices. Devices that dispense and dose, prepare and apply the products they once simply contained.
In doing so, packs have become integrated with the product itself. The design, development and manufacture of which requires the specialist skills of product designers and engineers who understand both devices and brand.
Mechanical to electronic
Has your brand’s portfolio always consisted of mechanical products? Are you at the top of the s-curve and electronics is the next step?
Inventions often progress along established paths, as technologies evolve, mature and then are replaced. Often mechanical products evolve to electro-mechanical products which in turn move to digital. This progression can be seen in many consumer product innovations.
Every new technology opens up its own world of possibilities. But our clients often find that their own resources and knowledge need support to leverage these new technologies. We can provide this specific project support while also understanding the bigger technology picture to help plan longer term product portfolios.
Physical to digital
...and digital to physical.
As more brands begin to exist only in the digital space, many are realising that they can lack a physical connection to their users. We help these digital brands and services create artefacts to connect and engage their users through a more physical, tangible manifestation of their brand. In addition we believe that digital assets of a physical brand should have implied sensory characteristics too. We help brands leverage this often unexploited opportunity to further reinforce a richer, holistic sensorial experience.