using VBL to design

I’m currently working on an assignment in which we are assigned a company and then we are to use that brands visual brand language to design a new product. I was assigned to design a hand mixer, toaster, and coffee maker using audi brand’s language.

In trying to dissect Audi’s brand language, the first thing that strikes me is the single frame front grille, which slopes inward to form a very round V. I also noticed that there are very few intersecting angles. In the instance that they do occur, they always meet in the rear of the vehicle as seen in the Q7. Many of the lines also tend to slope at a gentle downward motion and the only instance that they move upward is once again, when they meet in the back.

Using this information, I’ve been trying to incorporate them into my products but a lot of my ideas end up looking like cars with mixers and handles built into them.

I need advice on two parts. First, how can I better understand brand language? What should I be thinking about of looking for when I look at Audi’s products?

Also how can I utilize this information to fit the product I’m designing? I don’t want to design something that just looks like an A4 with mixers on it. I’m trying to figure out just what makes an Audi unique besides its grille and logo and use those qualities in my designs.

This is the first time I’ve had these kinds of guidelines for a design and it’s definitely something I’m not used to. Any and all help is greatly appreciated!

This might be a bit late for you, and sorry for not having time to give a proper answer, but you might want to have a look at the work of Toni-Matti Karjalainen as a starting point:

TONI-MATTI KARJALAINEN ^ HomePage: PUBLICATIONS (don’t let the design of the page fool you, there is a lot of good information there)

Hope it helps or can point you in the right direction.

Brand is what a company/product stands for, the value(s) of the company/product. Brand language is used to communicate those values.

So you need to first determine what is the value(s) behind the Audi brand. Speed? Agility? Precision? Inspiration? I find it easy to make a list of words (a lexicon). Then you find images (the slope of the grill, etc) to support those words. Or you can find the images first and determine what value that form is conveying. It can be a chicken and egg thing.

Once you determine the meaning and reason behind a form, it is then much easier to incorporate that value into a new product. So instead of the grill has a “V” shape and I need to incorporate a “V” into my toaster, you can say the “V” conveys the value of precision and incorporate precision into your toaster design. Instead of directly copying the “V”, you use the essence of the “V”, precision, in your design.

Your design then becomes your own, using hints/visual clues from other products, to become an integrated part of the Audi offering instead of a toaster that looks like a car.

exactly… The original post was from 2009, so a little late for this project I assume, but I agree with iab’s thoughts around abstracting and then manifesting meaning.

Haha, out of school now, but good advice is good advice.