Design DNA, Guidelines and Corporate Design
Only in the fifth design factor do we first broach the subject of design itself. At this point it is important to understand whether there is an existing framework, or if nothing is specified.
This can come in the form of corporate identity manuals, but also in the form of existing products with which the new product must create a range of ‘family’ of products. In addition to this there can also be category defining products which dictate the design language for everyone else and which are difficult to circumnavigate.
An example of an archetype is the wrist watch. This archetype has been imprinted for centuries and therefore leaving only a respectively small leeway for individual design influence. The concept of design DNA was pioneered by the automotive industry. An industry in which all model ranges no matter whether A1 or A8 and despite all the differences in performance, comfort and purpose, must visibly descend from a single genetic code.
The design DNA is an advanced concept that has now found wide spread usage outside of the automotive industry. A few elements and characteristics predefined to ensure all future developed products feel crafted from the same mould.
Sometimes design language is forged not by a company but through the products application or usage. For example a medical emergency tool’s design language will only allow a few easily identifiable elements that can be understood intuitively. The purpose of such devises should leave no doubt in the users mind and must be instantly recognisable.
The design language connects the past with the future and is thus also a tool for brand management. In general a successful brand will modernise and develop all of its products of in a single framework, creating a unified and distinguishable look and feel.
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