As I said I would use this space to discuss branding, marketing, and product development; pros and cons. I have been hesitating on when and where to start since I don’t want to make it feel as if I am attacking any one person or brand. I figure the best place to start is where I started myself, with Kidrobot. They can take the heat and are the supposed leaders in the designer toy world so they should be first in the line up.
Kidrobot x Skullcandy Collaboration, this should be a hit…at $300 a pop. It combines both an iconic “style” brand with functionality of headphones, and who doesn’t like big clunky headphones. I know I admire subway riders that look as if they are about to dj a dance party but first they have to get there, all while wearing their headphones. Forget discreet earbuds, show the world that you aren’t paying attention in a trend setting way.
First problem is the product design. Why would you choose to cobrand with a company that saw its peak in 2009? If you are suppose to be a cutting edge design company why not partner with a brand of equal or greater value. Adding your cut & paste design templates to someone else’s boring product does not help elevate either brand and only serves to further show that you’ve lost your creative edge. Sure I know it’s not the same group of creative minds that were behind previous collabs (Nike SB, Swatch, and Burton), but why not make an attempt at producing a well designed product. They could have at least designed the graphics to look updated. Instead they settled for two designs that were cool when they first came out circa 2006(on a VW Golf) but have since lots their appeal and stature.
Sure the design of the headphones is an issue; probably the biggest as far as product development goes, but the other problem is the weak attempt to partner their iconic toy with the poorly designed product to improve sales. Sure this would work in most cases, because a collector always wants what is hardest to get, but this design is again a half-hearted attempt to sell you on their creativity. Falling extremely short on being original, or pushing the boundaries. They slapped on some chrome paint, embed a headphone jack into the face and called it a day. Which would have been genius if it had been done in the time when chrome toys were something new, but to do it now seems lazy. Not to mention the lack of design, which is highly evident when you compare it with any of the past dunny designs(even the eggy dunny had more going for it). Why not throw a skullhead on the stomach just to solidify the cross branding?
Stop trying to reach the masses by partnering with brands that are sold in the check-out aisle of Best Buy. Start taking your past credibility in the design world seriously and look for brands that represent the same design sense that once drove fans to stand in line for hours just for a Dunny release. Rethink your copy and paste strategy for putting Kidrobot iconic design onto other brands, why not work on the design to co-mingle with the brand image you are partnering with. Just because you were once the leader doesn’t mean you can keep leading if you fail to improve and progress. Partner with Bose, or even Beats By Dre, brands that represent quality and functionality, not a brand that is constantly thrown in the sales bin at any electronics store.
Also if you are going to commodify your platform toy that made you a success why not give it new life through the collaboration instead of further killing it’s standings as a design platform. Why not take the time to remake the figure and include a Bluetooth speaker? Sure it would cost more, and you might even loose some money due to production costs, but you would give the collector and the headphone enthusiast a new product that represents both the design element and functionality of what both brands represent.
In short if you are going to co-brand go all out and fully encompass what both brands stand for. You are putting the time in effort in making the product why not put some thought and heart into it as well. From a marketing stand point this is transparently a blatant grab for mass recognition, and from a product design angle it is clearly lacking a forward thinking design element. Co-branding for the simple sake of doing so is not the right way to treat these types of collaborations. Put some thought into why your customers like your brand and what makes it so special, because failing to do so wastes your time and keeps your fans’ wallets safely tucked in their pocket.