January, 2014 | by

CES2014 in review: The good, the bad, and the gnarly, dude

Going to the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas is like going to Disneyland for the first time, every time. It’s so huge you can’t possibly see the entire thing within the time it’s open, the crowds are massive and EVERYTHING is screaming for your attention (thank you booth babes). The expectation is that CES is filled with the newest technology on the planet (and that may be true), but it’s also filled with the same product these exhibitors have been lugging to Vegas for years. My point is you better have a good filter or you might miss the good stuff. Personally, I like to go wearing my favorite filter of all, the branding and design filter. So, here’s an example of one company that lost their way, one that’s chosen another path and a sweet story that should make all of our days.

Losing Your Way: OtterBox
I believe that if you say one thing you’ll communicate one thing to the world but try and say three things and you’ll end up communicating nothing. The messages will cancel each other out and all the meaning earned in your brand will be diluted. This year OtterBox, once the largest and most successful smart phone case maker, bought their biggest threat in the newcomer and largest and most successful smart phone case maker today, LIFEPROOF. Historically, OtterBox had one of my favorite brand presences at the show. They had multiple, smaller booths in different parts of the show that all “said” one thing which was 100% protection. See them here in 2012.

Dieline_slides_Otter12 copyThis year their booth was co branded OtterBox & LIFEPROOF and wow, what a difference. Saying two things at the same time and together saying nothing because they cancel each other out. The sign says, MADE FOR THIS. Made for what? I don’t know why they just didn’t maintain both successful brands separately and simply own the number one and number two spots in the market. You know, let em duke it out and may the best company win; after all you own them both. I mean, they essentially own Coke AND Pepsi, why make New Coke? I hope I didn’t date myself with that joke.

Dieline_slides_otter14 copyMaking something out of nothing: ZAGG
Originally in the watch protection business, Zagg made its mark with the invisibleSHIELD product. You know, those films that protect the face of your smart phones? Zagg sold a lot of these films, so much so that they were able to grow by selling many other products, earning the distinction as the accessory company for the road warrior. Think of them as the products your Dad uses because they’re not flashy; they’re cost effective and good enough to get the job done. Well, Zagg reintroduced themselves this CES with a new look including a new Identity and packaging design. I have a one word comment for this redesign: Logitech?

Anyway, you might be asking yourselves, what does this have to do with OtterBox? Well, when Zagg wanted to make products for a different customer they bought a company with different meaning in the marketplace called iFrogz but maintained the two companies quite separately (see below).

Dieline_slides_zagg copyFresh off the Presses: iFrogz new packaging and corporate logo
Since Marcia (Zagg) is getting a makeover, it’s only fair that Jan gets one too Mom. You would have missed it if you blinked but some of the new products carried the new work. A riff on the iFrogz “frog” tongue doing its best Amazon logo impression. iFrogz, your logo was a frog…how do you design a frog OUT of your identity when frogs are so fantastic!?!

Dieline_slides_iFrogz copyAll joking aside this example is a possible route Otter box could have taken even though both brands (Otter box and LIFEPROOF) are natural competitors. I mean Zagg makes headphones and iFrogz make cases right?

NOTE: Pretty great packaging redesign here on this iFrogz Coda Forte line.

True from day one: WESC
Pronounced WE-Es-See, the name stands for We Are the Superlative Conspiracy, and is one of those really cool headphone brands that serves a very specific demographic (skateboarders) and does a really nice job doing so. You have to be really familiar with these guys to know what the name means and this gives them an authentic voice that goes straight to those “in the know.” This year they unveiled some new products and a new packaging design that is in a word, true.

and here’s why I believe them.

This year everyone was launching a new bluetooth speaker but how WESC designed theirs made it a perfect offering to fans of their brand. It’s designed to look like an oversized spray paint nozzle and when its merchandised the speaker sits on top of a huge can. See the image below (POP on the left and the new speaker on the right). To accompany the launch they created a 130 page, full color magazing filled with content ranging from fine art to fashion to good places to eat in Sweden. The spread about the speaker doesn’t appear until page 78 so to say they’re not being pushy is an understatement. I mean, they run more of a risk of you missing the speaker completely all for the sake of resonating with their core audience. Bravo.

Dieline_slides_WESC3 copy

Dieline_slides_WESC copy   When I asked them if there was anything new with their packaging design they said that they reshot all of their products on concrete to connect better with the skaters. Simple and honest. So, In conclusion, I think if a brands major packaging design statement of the season is to change their background to a pristine, picture perfect slab of concrete, when their audience of skaters and graphitti artists treat this material like their stomping pad, then they get my vote for Best in Show for CES2014.

That and they probably hate that I’m writing about them in this article.