Champions of Design – TOMS
The best design champions are not simply celebrating themselves through outstanding creativity or dazzling aesthetics. Rather, they put design to work as a means to an end (rather than an end in itself). The design is championing something ‘beyond’ – a mission – rather than just being champion in and of itself.
It’s the good that the TOMS brand does that makes it a champ. Design, however, plays its part. First, the not-insubstantial price tags are partly justified by nifty-looking products. I guess the insight is that, while we want to do good as consumers, many of us don’t want to feel we are buying ‘second best’ to do so. It takes some skill to prevent a ‘vegan classic’ shoe looking how it does in the mind’s eye.
Secondly, the level of branding is pitched just right. On the shoes, the discreet flag does not scream one’s claim to socially aware cachet. That would be vulgar. But it’s there to be seen, advertising one’s conscience. Otherwise, who would know? The eyewear is perhaps becoming less subtle in its branding, reflecting a growing confidence in the quality of its products.
TOMS has a good design that does good, and makes us feel good by doing it. It starts with how design can be a vehicle for an idea, rather than the idea informing the design. It provides proof that aesthetics can be a source of brand values.
By Silas Amos, Creative Strategist, jkr