Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Design Decisions: Sonic Merchandise Design Lesson

What is good design?
It's stuff that's done well......so that you don't notice it's done well! Design really only gets noticed when it does a bad job, or an unusually good job. Otherwise, it sits there in the background & people don't pay it any mind. Sometimes this is ideal, and sometimes not.

What's an example?
The Tomy classic "switching deluxe collector" Sonic figure. The package design is TERRIBLE.
But, the box doesn't expose the figure to dirt & theft and the art is ok...what's your problem?

Something that's not awful looking CAN be "BAD Design" & this is a prime example of it.
Sure, the box isn't terrible. But it does just about 0 things to actually get anyone to buy the product. It's not enough to 'not be terrible' it has to actually do GOOD.

Why is the box bad?
Has NO indication of the load of accessories & parts you get
Has NO item name 'switching deluxe collector' is just some made up name to describe it
Has NO pictures of what you can do with the toy on the box (doesn't show fun)
Does NOT illustrate the money or play value you get when you buy

So, you're in the store and here's a moderately sized Sonic figure for 30 dollars.
"Wow that's expensive, why should I care?"
If the box doesn't answer that question, it's a bad box. There's no reason to spend 30 dollars for just a figure of that size if you don't know that the base is a box & it comes with all the switching parts. Adding a photo montage to the back instead of that random quote would've done a world of good and not cost anything extra. Anyone who hadn't read about the figure online previously would never buy it in the store. A package needs to be able to be its own ad in instances like this.

Another Example: The Puma Shoe (In Prototypes, this week)
Why is this shoe so boring? Why is the fabric so gross? Sure it's just a prototype but there's really nothing Sonic about it other than the tag. "Oh it uses his colors" well that's nice, so does lots of stuff like several famous Gundams, Sailor Moon herself*, the American flag, the UK flag and some donuts. Red, white & blue (with small bits of gold/black/peach) is not some magic combination that instantly adds up to "Sonic" somehow.

Subtle vs Loud
Lots of kids designs are loud. Pictures of characters all over, big logos, big names, loud colors.
Some items (kids or not) are subtle.
There are lots of examples of both all over Gear, with Japan being a bit more of a 'subtle' edge that is sometimes too subtle.

Ok so Puma wants a wide-appeal shoe for adults and teens.
So, pictures of Sonic & Knuckles all over it are out...but just making some blue shoe doesn't mean it's Sonic. Plus, what's up with that awful, pilly fabric? It looks like some white dog shedded hair all over it, then someone wiped it with a gross paper towel and then left little 'bits' of lint & wet towel all over it. Sonic is fast, slick...high-tech! Not grandma's old shag carpet pounded into a sneaker.

There is a good way to do subtle-Sonic & still have it be Sonic and this shoe isn't it so far.

*Sailor Moon is interesting because she's pretty much exclusively Sonic's colors, blue eye/dress, red shoes, gray soles, yellow hair/buckle/moon, beige skin, white gloves/top, gold crown....Does that mean the shoe is also for Sailor Moon?

Next week:
At least 2 uncommon items & a trophy.