How do they Make That? A Brief Guide to Product Development

For anyone who has ever wondered how products come into existence, this blog post is an (extremely) abridged description of the process that product gets from an idea to one that you are able to buy from a shop shelf.

Prior to all of the following steps, someone somewhere has to have a great idea that they identify will fill a gap in the market, or as being an improvement to an existing product.

Step 1 Research

After a potential product has been thought of, a research phase is entered where the potential market for the product and the expected retail price identified. There’s not much point taking a product further if it the market for it will not provide a decent return on the investment required to manufacture it. Specialist product marketing firms such as Power Decisions are often used to carry out this phase of research. You can find out more on the Power Decisions website.

Step 2 Concepts and Prototypes

3D product drawings are usually produced using computer CAD software – these precise drawings are then used later in the manufacturing process. You can see examples of the kinds of drawings on the website of CAD software manufacturer, Autodesk.

Prototypes of the product are assembled, often requiring the manufacture of one off components to be made where parts are not already in existence. One such company that provides one off components for prototypes is European Springs who can be seen here on their twitter page.

DVD factory

Step 3 Testing and Refinement and Evaluation

The concept product then enters an intensive stage of testing, the results of which can lead to refinements to the original design – this may need a return to the previous concept drawing prototype stage. Ultimately an entirely new product prototype may need to be created. The final evaluation of this development phase brings all the data gathered about the product performance and usability and functionality together prior to manufacture.

Step 4 Manufacture

It is commonplace for the manufacture of outsourced to a manufacturing company with particular expertise in the field. Probably the most notable example of this is the manufacture of Apple’s iPhone which is carried out by electronics giant foxconn. Whilst foxconn do not manufacture every component of the iPhone they are responsible for the final assembly in their electronics facilities in China. The original CAD drawings and prototypes will be passed to the chosen manufacturing facility for them to begin the process of final product manufacture.

Step 5 Distribution and Marketing

The final manufactured product is now at the stage where it can be sent via a distribution network to its intended market place. The product will not arrive at its retail location unannounced. Clever marketing campaigns are behind nearly every product to create anticipation of and demand for the product before it is available for sale.

This blog is really only intended as an overview of the concept to product process. There are many other steps that were above the scope of this blog post, such as safety testing and packaging design and production. Many products take years to make it through all of the design and development stages that are required.

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5 Photography Tips for Beginners

Making stunning pictures involves nothing more but a bit of thought. While it often helps having decent equipment, all you really need is to take a moment before each shot to think clearly about what are you attempting to capture or create!

Step 1 – Be Selective!

Find exactly what you want in that photo, and remove anything else from the shot. If you’re trying to take a picture of a flower, you don’t want a bunch of other flowers or trees in the shot. Get as close and focused on the subject as possible to get the best possible photo. According to famous photographer Arnold John Kaplan, (check his article for additional photography tips here: http://photoinf.com/General/Arnold_Kaplan/The_Magic_Of_Selective_Vision_-_Photo_Composition.htm) a photo composition is the foundation upon which we build our photo images, and produce a harmonious and pleasing photographs. So, be selective!

Step 2 – Look at the light!

By this I don’t mean look into the sun – no, that won’t help at all! But it is good to see what kind of light you are working with. Ask yourself – which way are the shadows falling? How is the light affecting your subject? Is the light blazing directly and brightly upon your whole subject? Also, a blogger and a photographer James Kerr in his blog ‘Sweet as photography’ (if you are interested you can read his article here:  http://www.sweetasphotography.com/blog/the-importance-of-lighting-in-photography/)   argues that light is everything in photography! For instance, side lightening can add drama and cause extreme to your work, while indirect lightening, on the other hand, can be used to make your subject glow soft and pretty!

Step 3 – Keep it simple!

Don’t go crazy buying the most expensive equipment right away!  The more photos you take, the more you’ll know about what kind of camera to get when it’s time to upgrade. Just don’t bother with an expensive camera! It is certainly not necessary while you are learning. If you are seriously want to take up photography then I will recommend you learn on film first before using digital, or maybe buy both at one. Many people are selling their photo cameras at affordable prices, so you, a beginner, can really find one and start your journey! For instance, check such internet websites as www.ebay.co.uk, or http://www.cameraexchangestore.co.uk/  for price ideas! Also, don’t forget to try before you buy!

Step 4 – Experiment with time!

One of the most basic, and overlooked aspects of photography is that you have the power to slow time down or catch a split second! One image happens so slowly that we could never see it and the other happens so quickly in real time that we would never notice it. Play with shutter speed! Use a slow shutter speed and a tripod to make a pretty picture of any creek or stream. On the other hand, you can use a fast shutter speed (1/500 and up) to capture an object in motion.  Remember, catching the moment in fast-paced action photography may take a little more practice so hang in there!

Step 5 – Enjoy!

Photography is so much more than taking a picture. It is an art and a science combined when done correctly.  It affords the hobbyist a chance to make a profession, and to preserve memories for people. With a little guidance one can go from simple daytime picture taker to master photographer!

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Stand Out: Creative Exhibitions

For those of you who are unaware, Marketing Week 2013 is just around the corner! Marketing Week offers a fantastic chance for experienced and budding marketers alike to learn from the industry’s best. Should you be attending this marvellous excuse to show off your brand, you will need to know a couple of things first. A market designed for marketing is going to have your senses reeling; think about all those colours and slogans hitting you from every angle, your poor brain won’t know where to turn. As a marketer, this is where you need to know what attracts a customer, and what bores them to tears.

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Know Your Brand

I found this blog post on HubSpot extremely useful for explaining the golden rule of exhibition marketing: understanding why you’re there. You may have what you’re going to say all readied, and you think you sound like the business, but a well-timed ‘what is your role?’ can derail your train in an instant, so don’t just prepare clever answers. People want to poke and probe your brand to test for holes, not listen to your corporate jargon. Be realistic: answer the questions like a human being and put yourself in your customer’s shoes. Remember to sell the value of your product, not just what it does. Function is pivotal to the product’s image, but it’s definitely the image that you’re selling.

The Christmas lights Coca-Cola truck makes for a very shiny marketing ploy.

Walk the Walk

You might be a snappy talker, but how do you dress? Appearance is everything. Let me say that again, appearance is everything. The Marketing Donut outlines these 12 reasons why exhibition stands fail to engage new customers, learn these basics and you can’t go wrong. On that note, if you want your stand to speak for itself, take a look at the services offered by Skyline Whitespace for some truly impressive, dynamic exhibition stand designs. I remember attending their Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 release in London. Admittedly I was more eager for the game than my next breath, but it was well and truly taken away on release day thanks to solid marketing.

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Silver-Tongue

This goes hand in hand with knowing your brand; being able to talk to people. Number 2 in this blog on ‘5 Reasons Customers Don’t Buy’ from About.com I would consider the most crucial point of exhibition marketing. Why would a customer invest their time and money in something they don’t think they need? Who really needs an iPhone 5 when the other 4 function just as well? The key comes from your dialogue. You need to make a big enough impression as a brand, as a product, and as a person for just one customer to be interested, so think about how that translates to a bigger audience.

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 Pack It In

Last but far from least, function as a team, not a rabble of hyenas. If someone inquires, they want a quick answer, not a team song and dance. Passersby aren’t buffalo; you don’t need the whole team to bring them down (so to speak), you should be able handle yourself. Forgive all the animal metaphors here, but this doesn’t mean you have to be a lone wolf; it simply means that being crowded by a host of white shirts and ties all explaining the same thing is unattractive. Simply knowing your team is with you should give you enough confidence to engage new customers: that and a huge customized stand.

Team

I hope you find these tips useful, though I have no doubt you already know what you are going to do. If you only take one thing away, let it be this: be realistic and don’t try to look like a salesman.

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Creative Packaging: The Gift of Nothing

I had only begun trying to sell, rather than giving away, my kitsch little pieces of handmade jewellery on the advice of others. But when my list of requests, mostly for relatives and friends, ran thin, I admit it, I was hurt. At craft fairs people commented on how lovely the jewellery was. They picked them up. And then they put them down. And then they walked away. I’d watch far more organised businesses smile as a constant stream of custom came their way. I could never work out what they had that I didn’t. Now I know.

At Christmas I received a ‘joke’ gift from a friend. Meant to make me laugh, the gift actually changed my life. What strikes me even more about the fact a joke has had such a detrimental effect on my life is that the gift I unwrapped was ‘The gift of nothing’.

A  simple, white piece of cardboard displaying the nothingness within its half bubble of transparent plastic. I turned it in my hand; beside a barcode on the back of the packet was a price sticker. It amazed me. The creator, in his / her quest to answer the question, ‘what to buy for someone who has everything?’, had turned the answer into a solution, a gift, a tangible joke…and a source of income.

I won’t go as far as to say packaging has saved my business, but discovering creative packaging  and thinking about packaging for the first time in twenty years, I feel reinvigorated. I am excited again. somehow I had grown up and become one of the people who buy a present and then frown, bewildered, by the child who only wants to play with the box. But now I remember.

When I was a child, there was no purer pleasure than twisting open the hexagonal, interlocked boxes of Turkish delight my grandfather used to buy me. It was the sole reason I liked Turkish delight, if I am honest. The interlocking pieces of lid that needed carefully twisting apart, causing the box to open like a flower.  I can’t tell you about the turkish delight itself, because I don’t remember it, but that box, it was pure magic.

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Media Studies: Is It Worth It?

Physics is the study of matter in time and space; mathematics, the study of life’s numerical code, geography, the importance of environmental awareness, and politics the complication of simple matters. Ok the last one was a bit of a dig, but media studies I hear you say? To anyone else, a media student is some sort of desperate attempt at legitimizing watching films and calling it study. It is constantly teased by other academic subjects, right in the bullying corner with philosophy and creative writing, because honestly: what life advantages could one take from the study of film? I would like to share some insight from a long-term film disciple, and hopefully restore some of your faith in the field of media studies.

I began studying film after being on a different course for 6 weeks at college. I switched over and, despite joining so late, found myself creeping to the top of the class. It wasn’t that it was too easy, it was that I had finally found a subject I was both good at and interested in. Movies have been around for over 120 years; it would be foolish to think that the everyday images you see, hear, and buy have no effect on your brain. I have thought hard about the following list, and would like to outline the reasons why studying media is so vastly important to our culture:

Ok, We’re Rolling…

Physics may study the effect of matter in everyday life; but we are surrounded by media in the form of television ads, films, product packaging, radio, etc. The list really does go on, and having an awareness of the effects these things have on society pulls you out of the crowd. Although, having this knowledge means that almost every film/advert I have ever watched since studying at college I have deconstructed and analysed during, a trait my friends often wish I would keep to myself. Despite making some movies completely unbearable, studying film enhances your viewing experience by making you aware of filmic devices such as camera work and sound.

The Reel World

You may think having these skills will simply ruin watching movies, but it’s not just film that you can apply the theories to. Jobs in advertising, marketing, film, tv, radio and theatre production all require an intricate knowledge of filmic devices and design. The practical upshot of studying media at university gives you access to professional broadcast equipment allowing you to make your own movies and gain a great deal of technical experience. You can’t say it doesn’t look like fun!

Developing Talent

I don’t ever like ­summarising people by course, though it does often appear that some people are meant for their subject. Studying something you enjoy, especially if it’s in the creative industry, gives younger members of society the opportunity to make something inspirational. The way the media industry constantly adapts to incorporate new technology and culturally relevant material is an attractive prospect to creative-minded people. Take a look at this project by Creative England as an example.

Media is absolutely everywhere now, and if you’re dead set on making a career from staying on top of it then get to studying, but don’t forget that it’s a creative subject, your viewing experience may turn out something wholly unexpected. Exciting stuff!

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