Exploring the limits of the brand Cartier
A common way of expanding a business when dominating a market is extending the brand to other markets. But can a brand just pick a new market and start selling products? The answer is obviously no. The product has to fit the expectations consumers have of the brand. So where do the possibilities of extending brand values end?
The subject branding has already been discussed during my studies, but always by using obvious examples which made the subject feel unworthy of mentioning. I always had the feeling that this was a shame as it did not give students the chance to learn by actually struggling with the subject. So for the course Graphic Language of Products at the Twente University me and my group mate decided to choose a brand that posed a challenge. We decided to investigate the international brand Cartier, the number one manufacturer of fine jewelry and timepieces.
We chose the brand Cartier as a challenge, and a challenge it was. The brand has a rich hundred-and-fifty year history, making it a company that existed long before the subject ‘branding’ was even invented. Cartier has made hundreds of pieces of jewelry, of which many were one-time designs made on commission and designed to the wishes of the one that provides the money. Furthermore, to make exceptional and uncompromising designs the jewelry within their portfolio is influenced by varying cultures such as Russia, India and China.
The extend of designs made the search for repetitive explicit design features hard and even impossible for all of Cartier’s designs. This left us with no other alternative then to search for the underlying implicit design values: values that are not physically repeated but is inhibited by all of Cartier’s designs. The search for Cartier’s implicit design values can be seen in the slideshow below.
With the implicit values determined it was time to see how far the values could be extended. For this we were given the assignment to design a computer mouse for Cartier. Most computer mouses are cheap, heavy-duty products with a minimal focus on design. In short, the given product could not be further from the values of Cartier.
During the conceptualization designs were made in three directions: L’Odyssee de Cartier and its exquisite jewelry, the timepieces, and the iconic La Panthere. Afterwards different concept features were combined to create a final concept: La Panthere Tanquin. The concept presents a playful panther chasing after birds flying around him. The birds are laid out in a Escher pattern and swarm before the panther’s nose, teasing him and trying to pass him. The back of the computer mouse shows the reason for their daredevilry: the Queen of the birds, with royal tail fathers enveloping the entire back of the mouse.