Hi, I am Kelly from Knack, where we help mobility brands make their products irresistible.
I recently wrote an article about how to design timeless products. The comments and discussion that followed highlighted the fact that trendy and timeless products serve different purposes. One isn’t necessarily better than the other. However, one IS more irresistible, depending on who your customer is.

So, in this article, we’re going to dive into what makes a product either trendy or timeless and determine which type is right for your product.

IRRESISTIBILITY

To be irresistible, a product must possess an enticing aesthetic, solve a meaningful problem, deliver a delightful user experience, and have a no-brainer price tag. An irresistible product must check all of these boxes, but can also be either trendy or timeless to boot.

It is important that you understand what makes a product trendy or timeless so that your product’s fate is not accidental, but instead part of your design strategy.

Let’s take a close look at each:

TRENDY

The Cambridge Dictionary defines trendy as, “modern and influenced by the most recent fashions or ideas.” Trendy products flaunt hot, popular attributes.

To design a trendy product, focus your product development efforts on exploiting the in-thing your customer is most obsessed with. Trendy products require an understanding or prediction of the current fads and quick action to deliver a relevant product before the trend fades.

With a design that’s trendy, you’ll be able to ride the wave of buyer interest created by the current craze. Heavily influenced by emotion, your consumers will buy more impulsively to fill an immediate need or desire.

TIMELESS

Unlike trendy designs that are focused on being relevant in the present day, timeless design is focused on staying relevant and looking appropriate for many years to come.

When setting out to design timeless products, avoid clues of the current time. Instead, strive for a proper proportion, functional form, and classic colors that were cool way back when, now, and for many years to come. Designing timeless products requires an extra level of thoughtful refinement, void of frivolous aesthetics, often yielding an understated product.

Achieving timelessness in your design gives your product staying power, sparing you a great deal of future new product development costs while allowing your product’s fan base to compound over time.

WHICH ONE?

Again, whether your product should be trendy or timeless depends on your consumer. While many designers would argue that a product should always be timeless, timelessness requires an extra level of aesthetic refinement and subtly that a here-today-gone-tomorrow product can’t always afford.

If your consumer values keeping up with the times, looking cool and flashy in the moment above all else, your product needs to be trendy. A consumer who is obsessed with the latest and greatest will inevitably be onto the next big thing soon. In this case, there’s no reason to over-invest in a timeless aesthetic.

If your consumer values products that endure the test of time and don’t look dated in just a few years, or you just simply want to invest in a product that doesn’t need to be revamped every 3 years, you should pursue a timeless design.

Note: With strategic industrial design execution, it is possible for a product to be both trendy and timeless.

Do you know what your consumer desires? As soon as you do, you’ll be one step closer to achieving irresistibility.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kelly Custer is the Founder + Design Director of Knack

Pairing her transportation design education from the College for Creative Studies in Detroit, Michigan with over 8 years of design consulting experience in consumer products, Kelly has built a strong passion for mobility. She founded Knack in 2014 and leads the studio to deliver irresistible simple mobility products.

When she’s not in the studio, she can be found on a mountain bike trail, trying to keep up with her husband on her dirt bike, or exploring the Tennessee river on their vintage stand-up jet skis.

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