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Go Logo! A Handbook to the Art of Global Branding148
Oral-B packaging and new brand
identity system
roduct design and understanding how a brand’s persona influences consumer
choices have been major influences in my development of products and brand
strategies over the past two decades. Following are snapshots of this evolution of
product design with branding.
After discovering industrial design at Canberra University (formerly CCAE), Australia, in
the late 1970s, I quickly developed a passion for designing products. It was thrilling trying to
make a better “mouse trap” with a modish new style. I drooled over books and publications
depicting the futuristic designs of Luigi Colani and Syd Mead, who have influenced much
of the contemporary design we see today. My life, my image, and my brand were being
molded by this infatuation for good design. The only important thing to me at the time was
to design a great product and have it made well, because, in my mind, that’s all it would take
for a product to sell like hot cakes. It was that simple. Or was it?
By the mid-1980s, I found myself in New York
(where I have been based for the past twenty-
two years), working as a design consultant for
large American corporations such as Estée Lauder,
Gillette, PepsiCo, and Exxon, to name a few, and
later for companies in both Asia and Europe. Back
then, in New York, great design alone was no lon-
ger the most important consideration in a creative
assignment; a design that exuded the brand per-
sonality and attributes and would ultimately influ-
ence the psychodynamics of the target consumer
Design Sense
KENNETH HIRST, Principal of Hirst Pacific in New York, New York
Kenneth Hirst is principal of Hirst Pacific, a global product design company
headquartered in New York, New York. Hirst is a leading innovator in product,
corporate identity, branding, and architectural design.
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149Twelve Key Determinants to Creating Successful Brands
(continued on page 150)
Hirst Pacific’s orbit clock maps the
position of the sun chronologically.
Absolute Essens, an
Estée Lauder fragrance
was required. Brand strategy was gradually being woven into how I approached product
design. However, the battle for me in those early years was about bringing the brand to life
through the design of the product, without compromising truly great design. Strategically
created solutions that fit the brand personality do not always become classic icons of
design, so blending strategy and “design” as a single principle was an essential next step. As a
result, the synthesis of the two disciplines, brand strategy and product design, was underway.
All powerful and influential brands are built around exceptional products and services.
These products and services help define the subliminal idiosyncrasies of the brand and
why they appeal to all of us. An ice-cold, fizzing Coca-Cola, for example, will always refresh
and quench a parched throat, and Apple’s digital innovations will always be encased in cool,
clean design. These brands join many others that have crossed international boundaries and
are truly global, with products and brand identities that appeal to a broad ethnic diversity in
all cultures.
The Power of Persuasion
On one occasion, I was engaged in a global project for PepsiCo prior to Iraq’s invasion of
Kuwait in 1990 and the subsequent Desert Storm. The project was to review Pepsi’s global
outdoor presence and then determine new initiatives and opportunities. The part of the
world I was to investigate included Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, and Kuwait. At the
last minute, Kuwait was cancelled from the itinerary, and, at this time, Americans were advised
not to travel in the Middle East. I became the lone sacrificial Australian to audit the region.
My flight from New York via
London to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia,
arrived at about 11 o’clock in
the morning. Prior to landing, I
noticed the airhostess giving out
handfuls of little liquor bottles
to most of the Arab passengers;
she asked me if I would like
four miniature Johnnie Walkers.
I was puzzled by the frenzy to
Design Sense
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