Global product design language (GPDL) is a concept we’re extremely passionate about here at Beyond Design. This unified approach to how you design your products can have powerful benefits for your company, and make your product and brand more beloved by your customers.
Here’s everything you need to begin on the road to a global product design language.
What is a GPDL?
GPDL stands for global product design language. It’s the unified set of design elements that make products your company manufactures recognizable on store shelves, familiar and intuitive for return customers, and highly rated when it comes to user experience.
Your GPDL can include form factor, color schemes, notable features across multiple products, materials and textures, and more. The more consistent these elements are across multiple products, the stronger your GPDL can be.
But many companies struggle to translate their core brand ethos and goals into a distinctive, effective, and iconic brand language. That’s because many don’t know where to start— and this is where Beyond Design comes in. Every day, we work with a range of companies to design products and entire product lineups that create a unified image and customer experience.
If you’re a company in need of a global product design language, here’s where to begin.
Start with Your Values
Too many brands and companies dive immediately into the details of their product design language— the colors, materials, and design elements that they hope will make their products instantly iconic. But you must begin further back than this. You have to start with what inspires you to create your products, and what you hope they’ll accomplish for consumers. Are your products designed to be visually striking, as beautiful as they are functional, as at-home on a display shelf as they are in everyday use? Or do you want to pride yourself on workhorse products, those that are utilitarian and affordable while delivering everything your customers need with efficiency and power?
Your brand probably lies somewhere in the middle, but until you know where that is, you’ll never be able to create a GPDL that feels true and consistent to your consumers.
What Makes Your Brand and Products Yours?
Now that you’ve addressed your values, let’s talk about the actual features that will represent them. Your design language isn’t just how your product looks— it’s also how it works. Great brands don’t just create products and packages that look the same on store shelves. They also work equally well and provide similarly stellar user experiences. Imagine a customer who has used one of your products. What do you want them to feel when they use a second product from your lineup? If you’re a successful brand, you make every effort to help that experience feel familiar, empowering, and enjoyable as the first.
Time to Talk Strategy
It’s time to start strategizing about where your products fall in the market, and how that will affect your visual brand language. Is your plan to be an affordable alternative to more expensive, feature-rich options? Or do you want to be the high-end option yourself, attracting those with the highest standards of quality?
Whatever your market strategy may be, your global product design language should reflect it. Identify four or five strategic benefits you hope to obtain from your GPDL, and then identify how you can make them reality.
The Beginnings of Your Physical Brand Language
There comes a point where you must move from abstract and high-level thinking about your brand’s ethos and how it will inform your products into the more concrete details of actually designing them.
Based on everything you’ve explored relating to your brand’s vision, the features you want to include and experiences you want to create, and where your brand and products will sit in the market, it’s time to decide how these things will inform the details of your GPDL. What color scheme will you use? What universal design elements will you include in each product? What materials will be best suited to serve as the unified canvas for your product designs? What about form factor? This is where the true art and science of product design begins in earnest.
Adapting to Individual Products
Having a global product design language doesn’t mean every product has to look identical. The true challenge comes from ensuring that each product feels like it’s from the same family, while still allowing each to have the unique features, design elements, and form factor that allow it to create an amazing user experience. If you’re sacrificing a product’s functionality for the sake of making it look and feel more like your other products, you’ve missed the point of a global product design language entirely. The point is to create a unified design approach that enhances functionality and ease of use. If you can do that, you’ll create a lineup of products that’s not just recognizable at the store but extremely effective in your users’ hands.