Age Well Product and Branding Champions

Logos

I was inspired to offer a counterpoint to a blog post by one of our favorite life-stage bloggers, Laurie Orlov,  titled “Vendors Who Should Target Boomers and Seniors – Part 1 & Part 2.” Orlov advocates major brands to “create messages and acknowledgements of these [boomer and senior] segments.” Nuanced messaging that captures the joy of life is the type of conversation consumers want to have with their brands of choice at all stages of life.

Good design obviously exists in product design, but it also exists in service design as well as branding and advertising. And as Diane Vondrak Bright shared with me. “good design is just that…design that is good. Good for all, inclusive and counters exclusion.”  Over time I have collected examples of major brands that offer products and brand messages that are inclusive and counter exclusion. Upon closer examination some of their products are beautifully and subtly targeted towards consumers with special needs.  However, the overall brand experience welcomes everyone.

All of these products provide value across the age spectrum and they are found by consumers who recognize their value without marketing to fear and frailty. These examples are a guiding light for other companies trying to initiate a consumer-conversation with certain life stages.

Logo Products

The GE Profile™ Single-Double Wall Oven is a winner.  Wall ovens can be installed at a convenient height.  Universal design standards recommend installing the wall oven with at least one rack at the level of an adjacent counter top, reducing the need to bend, improving accessibility and making it easy to transfer a heavy, piping hot pan of Grandmother’s lasagna to the counter.  Other notable features include self-cleaning, easy-to-read graphics, an easy-grip handle, an oven lock-out switch, and generous interior lighting.  But the best feature is the shorter oven doors that allow simple access to each oven cavity and take up less space in the kitchen. No more bending and reaching over a full size oven door.

Timex, one of the best known watch companies in the world, reached its milestone 150th Anniversary this year. Throughout its long and rich history, Timex has remained at the forefront of advanced technology, developing iconic and internationally recognized timepieces. From the first mass-produced, affordable pocket watches to Indiglo night-light, the company’s propriety watch illumination technology, has been driven by the advancement of state-of-the-art timekeeping.” Timex further demonstrated their innovative spirit by teaming up with Core77 to conduct a global design competition.  The Timex Easy Reader ($45) is worn by a key adviser to GoodDesignAgeWell.  He is a stylish design-savvy Gen-Y’er whose other watch is a luxurious Breitling.  But he loves the Timex for its classic design that is appropriate for any occasion.

OXO‘s full range of products are must have for any kitchen.  Their products are distinguished for their purposeful use of universal design – a philosophy of making products that are easy to use for the widest possible spectrum of users. Even the name  “OXO” has universal elements, because whether it’s horizontal, vertical, upside down or backwards, it always reads “OXO.” The tools are useful for the overworked hands of professionals chefs, a parent with a baby in one hand and a task in the other, or sore hands that have lost a little bit of their gripping power.

Now the best for last.  The Wii by Nintendo is by all means a run-away intergenerational success that has created a huge following and even Wii Bowling tournaments and virtual leagues. This user-insight video from Nintendo subtly and superbly captures the essence of Wii and how it connects with consumers.

WHAT COMPANY OR PRODUCT IS YOUR BRAND CHAMPION?

Now You See It. Now You Don’t.

Grab bar manufacturers  are trying to move away from the ADA compliant building code look of public restroom grab bars.  New shapes, colors, finishes and materials are now available. But still the stigma of a grab bar has slowed its acceptance by homeowners, despite the convenience and comfort it provides for all users.  In a recent New York Times article by Joyce Walder, fold-down grab bars are pictured that can be added to a bathroom when needed.  This is an innovative approach to making a house flexible to meet the needs of its occupants, as opposed to the occupants adapting their needs to the inflexible structure of the built environment.

now-you-see-it-now-you-dont

The remainder of the article features other universal design features for special needs, for the possibility of age related physical decline and for maximum access to a house in general.