By Kara McCartney, strategy and insight director, Landor Associates
Has this happened to you?
You are experiencing sluggish wireless connectivity; games keep jamming, email downloading never completes and movies keep pausing. Fed up, you call your cable service provider who twiddles with things, and all seems a little better, until it starts again. Finally, you determine you need a new wireless router.
A wireless router is at the center of our wireless world—the connective heart to all of our devices in the home. When that router can no longer handle multiple devices or the amount of content streaming through your home, it causes a kind of panic and frustration none of us could have imagined 10 or 15 years ago.
In general, wireless router manufacturers have three key objectives when developing products: stretch of coverage, the amount of content a router can handle and the speed of content. With iPads, streaming video and gaming, it's been a race to supply the greatest degree of wireless coverage and speed. With each brand offering multiple tiers of speed and coverage, how does the consumer figure out what's best for their needs?
Earlier this year, Cisco hired Landor Associates to create new packaging for its Linksys routers and accessories that solved that problem and distinguished it from competitors. The brand had previously struggled with consumer confusion over the product offer and strong competition, but Cisco was ready for its Linksys brand to make a statement. Linksys had created a remarkable new Smart Wi-Fi platform for wireless routers that would make it the center of the wireless home, allowing people to control their devices from anywhere with custom-built apps.
Linksys needed to highlight this new technology, but to do so, it was critical to streamline communication and free up space on the box. The packaging needed to present a simple and elegant approach to choosing the correct router. Up until then a lot of companies, including retailers, had attempted various approaches but none of them embraced what the consumer needs to know: What's the right size router for me?
We immersed ourselves at retailer sites where we shadowed consumers; we explored online environments and interviewed developers and key thought leaders within the Cisco Linksys team. We came to understand that choosing a router was really about capacity: the size of a consumer's home plus the number of devices that might run at the same time. Being the daughter of a former hosiery manufacturer, the age-old hosiery chart kept popping up in my mind: height plus weight equals pantyhose size. Simple. Clear. Elegant.
By incorporating a new capacity chart, Landor's packaging design freed up a lot of space on the box by eliminating gratuitous information and icons, and focusing content on the key differentiators of each product. The capacity size associated with a product was reflected in the color coding of the package and noted prominently on the front of the box. The capacity chart on the back (much like the back of a pantyhose pack) is where shoppers can confirm whether or not they are holding the correct size router for their needs.
By finding a simple way for consumers to make a functional choice, we were then able to put greater creativity toward the emotional aspects of the product line. The black box is accented with vibrant colors and the Linksys name is bold and prominent.
Consumers with a collection of smart devices at home (from gaming consoles to smart appliances) are easily able to recognize Linksys Smart Wi-Fi routers—the next generation of intelligent home connectivity—in simple clear language and imagery. We created a kaleidoscope packaging system that expresses this idea of Smart Wi-Fi in colorful and dynamic intensity, which is not often thought of when wireless routers come to mind. But the Landor team felt that the Linksys Smart Wi-Fi technology very much warrants this kind of emotional expression.
In a sea of strategic and visual sameness, Linksys, as we proved in consumer research, now stands firmly above the fray.
Source: Landor Associates