Full-service brand, presence and retail development for an award-winning ceramic designer
welovekaoru, an award-winning new ceramic designer, asked TANDOT to establish their company and provide a website which could both sell their products, and reflect their traditional craftsmanship.
Our analysis showed welovekaoru needed not just an online sales outlet, but the creation of a cross-media identity, emphasising their originality and exclusivity. TANDOT planned a cross-channel strategy which could communicate the essence of the company and its products through a number of customer experiences, both online and offline.
Developing the visual
- On-product identity;
- Collateral paperwork;
- Brochures and postcards;
- Electronic communications.
The design solution aimed to emphasise the timeless and tangible quality of artisan goods by using high-grade materials and leaving evidence of personal touches; this is visible in the brand seals and logos – bespoke, sophisticated, yet bold and playful.
The back stamp (in blue, below) presented a set of unique physical design constraints; additionally, it needed to reflect hand-made skill and traditions, while invigorating them with a contemporary sensibility. The solution was to subvert the traditional ceramicists’ seal, adopting the aesthetics of the tattoo while maintaining a link with the heritage of the craft. The seal is reserved for welovekaoru’s physical products, a handcrafted stamp of authentic exclusivity, baked in by hand.
The logo uses a customised typeface to create a bold, clean and solid look, creating a sensation of familiarity with a hint of something different to it.
This modern simplicity combined with art nouveau-inspired ornamentation became the cornerstone of our style guide, which informed an identity covering packaging, posters, business cards, through to web pages, email signatures, and social networking identities.
Implementation of the essence of welovekaoru was extended to all the stationary and the packaging, creating a consistent experience. A style manual of guidelines and motifs leads to unity across the identity – on screen, paper, posters or bone china.
The site was built based on customer profiling; we broke the audience into three overlapping groups,
- casual visitors who would base purchase decisions on quality and exclusivity;
- recommendation visitors expressing themselves by sharing links;
- cultural visitors referred by high-production glossy magazines (or recommendations links.)
Subsequently emphasis was placed on providing tactile experience, using link-friendly Ajax/Hijax techniques to provide cross-fading, DVD-like navigation without compromising search engine or information visibility. Imagery is emphasised, with both the photographs and the whole site structure dynamically reflowing to accommodate the visitor and show the content as best as possible. Navigation is pared back to a minimum to avoid visitors becoming lost and potential ambiguity when discussing pages offline; to simplify the buying process, the otherwise unobtrusive shopping basket appears only when needed or requested by the visitor.
The background and page flows show a unique feature of the site, aligning the distinctive craft of the site architecture with the product line itself. Ajax-driven navigation avoids jarring page transitions, while algorithmically generated Flash artwork provides a subtle context-sensitive reinforcement of each products’ individual character. This is achieved without compromising an accessible, standards-compliant site, fully search engine ready without precluding those dependant on assistive technologies.
We developed unobtrusive share and subscribe features on top of providing RSS interfaces to the new section; RSS is there for technologists and software-based robots to consume, but the share (facebook, delicious, etc) and subscribe (Google, Yahoo, et al) features encourage the network impact of visitors; those who did not buy may have friends who would, and these systems encourage the message to be shared to people’s second and third tier personal networks.
The site is backed by a flexible administration interface, allowing welovekaoru to add news or adjust prices as needed, as well as manage the entire sales workflow.
We built the site using a number of open technologies and platforms, as well as spinning out several open-source projects in their own right.
- Flash, Flex and jQuery provide the rich front-end interface
- AMF is used for concurrent live interaction
- Valid XHTML and CSS underpin the rest of the site (providing consistent viewing on internet-enabled phones as well as desktop and laptop browsers)
Space and experience
We provided design support when welovekaoru appeared at the PULSE show (May 31 – June 2 2009, Earl’s Court). We created a brochure, special postcard, and goodie bag filled with old-fashioned sweets to reflect the brand and stand out amongst the competition.
The branding was flexible and distinctive enough to stand apart at a busy trade event, and transferred well to a very different medium. We commissioned a new range of photographs with more emphasis on trade customers than the exploratory images used on the website.
The brand and online presence have been well-received, by both visitors and customers alike. “TANDOT created a distinctive and manageable online presence, and provided tactical expertise with a number of outlets new to us”, said Kaoru Parry of welovekaoru, “their strategic input has built a 21st century brand – even down to the use of twitter and networks.”