“Design should not dominate things. Not dominate people. It should help people.”
— Dieter Rams
Dieter Rams is a German industrial designer who’s well known for the consumer products he’s designed for Braun. His design philosophy is “less, but better” and is reflected in many of the products he’s designed including radios, calculators, record players and shelving systems. Rams’ philosophy on design is an inspiration to Apple’s lead designer, Jonathan Ive and in many ways can be seen reflected in Apple’s products.
Rams’ 10 principles of good design was his answer to the question what is good design. They are perhaps the guiding principles for all industrial designers, though they also apply well to other design disciplines. Here is my twist on Dieter Rams’ 10 principles of good design applied to branding.
An innovative brand looks at the same problem and finds a new solution for it. The new solution is often better and adopted by others soon after being introduced. Often the innovation is a leap forward rather than a minimal shift and causes a change in people’s behavior.
A brand’s product is not only functional, but fulfils a psychological need. It’s well designed and satisfying to use. The brand demonstrates its value to the user and shows how it can make one’s life easier.
People care as much about functionality as they do about the aesthetic quality. The aesthetics affect how a person perceives a brand and whether or not they choose to associate with it.
Makes a product understandable
The brand’s purpose is clear. Its products are intuitive to use and any communication related to it is easy to understand.
It doesn’t get in the way of the product or service. The value of the brand speaks for itself. It doesn’t rely on identity alone to create value to the user.
It is what it says it is and doesn’t try to pretend to be something else. People trust a brand when it delivers consistently and is what they expect. It doesn’t attempt to make itself sound better or do something it can’t.
The brand doesn’t employ trends, but rather stands the test of time. It never runs the risk of looking dated, but instead is timeless. Its qualities and values resonate with people now and even 20 or 30 years from now.
Is thorough down to the last detail
Quality comes from caring about the details. Usually it’s the details that help a brand stand apart from its competitors. Taking care of the details shows customers how much it matters to the brand.
Is environmentally friendly
A brand can have a huge impact to the environment. In all decisions that are made, it considers ways to conserve resources and protect the environment.
Is as little design as possible
As Rams says it best, “less, but better.” Design with purpose, not for decoration. Focus on the essentials and keep it simple.
Whether it’s industrial, print or web design, Rams’ ten principles serve as a simple and meaningful guide to creating good design. The products he’s designed over the years have demonstrated the beauty, simplicity and functionality that has distinguished Rams from the rest in the field. His philosophy on design has influenced generations of designers and those that have employed his principles share the same success. Rams understood the difference between good and great design best when he said, “good design is making something intelligible and memorable. Great design is making something memorable and meaningful.”