Most brands create some aesthetic appeal. The logo and brand identity demonstrate a point of view that can be hip or serious or fun — it provides a glimpse into the psychological position that the brand is attempting to develop. But many companies take this much further. A unique aesthetic can set a brand apart and give it a unique voice.
One of the most common methods for creating an aesthetic is to transform product categories. Most of our products are designed to be attractive as well as functional, but when a company invests in the aesthetic appeal of its products it creates a voice that resonates more loudly. The styling of a product may convey ideas of “modern” or “sophisticated,” “exciting” or “whimsical.” Even products as mundane as bars of soap or kitchen implements are designed to create emotional associations in the mind. Good examples can be seen in every area of manufacturing. Even a single aesthetic — minimalist, for example — can transform a brand.
- OXO has designed a wide range of household products that adhere to usability principles. Everything from cheese graters to spatulas has been rethought in the most meticulous fashion, creating entirely new designs for very old tools while adhering to a simple, elegant appearance.
- We are surrounded by incredible amounts of technology, but Apple's unique anesthetic sets its products apart. Their clean and accessible designs are a hallmark of a brand that marries usability and aesthetics.
- IKEA furniture is distinctly styled. The simple aesthetic and the customizable nature of their pieces mean that their furniture can fit easily into almost any space.
Small businesses can do the same. When an entrepreneur goes out of her way to develop a unique aesthetic, the brand is more easily remembered. It doesn't have to be visual — a particular fragrance or taste can be easily associated with a particular brand, like Chanel No. 5 or Hershey's chocolate.
Sara’s Sculptural Sweets
Where do you go to get a special dessert? Ice cream shops are ubiquitous. Even most fast food chains offer some form of dessert. But where do you go to get something to top off a wonderful meal or add to a romantic evening? Sara wanted to create a special, boutique restaurant for just such occasions — an ice cream parlor for adults. She wanted to include a full bar with specialized drinks designed to entice the senses and add a more aesthetic experience to cocktails.
She decided to marry the visual, the olfactory and the gustatory by building a sweet salon for art lovers. Her dessert menu was presented as a gallery — a feast for the eyes and the palate. By combining elements of sculpture with the finest ingredients, her brand of desserts and drinks created an entirely new niche in the minds of her customers.
- The rich yet distinctly modern interior design was festooned with art. Paintings and sculptures created the feeling of being in a gallery. She took advantage of a local artwork loan program to create a rotating exhibition of the best modern pieces.
- The desserts were all associated with a particular artist and a work of sculpture. Chefs, inspired by individual pieces and using ingredients sourced from the native land of these sculptors, developed desserts as an homage to a single work of art. Each dessert was named for the sculptor that inspired its creation.
- The Bird In Space series by Constantin Brâncuși inspired a tall, slender molded sugar glass that, when cut open, pours a raspberry-flavored liqueur (Zmeurată) over a dish of rich vanilla ice cream.
- Umberto Boccioni’s futurist sculptures inspired a tower of individually molded chocolates filled with almond, coffee and hazelnut creams covered in thin gold leaf.
- Chihuly glass sculptures inspired a gathering of boldly colored abstract gelatin figures featuring dozens of strong, exotic fruit and vegetable flavors.
- An extensive liqueur and coffee menu complimented the desserts, providing plenty of reasons to linger for an hour or two.
- Wait staff was routinely given extensive education on the artworks and desserts to enable them to answer any questions posed by guests.
- Live musicians were hired to play chamber music on the weekends, adding an audible aesthetic to the visual display.
- Sara marketed her restaurant by supporting museums and advertising at local galleries.