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Certified WBENC Women's Business Enterprise


Design with inspiration

by Renita Van Dusen

How do you successfully create a brand that resonates, especially with your female consumer? Design with inspiration. What does that mean? It means doing your research, doing your homework, being inspired by your audience. Getting the right strategy in place to nail the creative.

From a previous M2W (Marketing to Women) Conference, I heard these statistics: 50% of women surveyed will buy a product because of the way it “makes me feel.” 33% of women surveyed say the best brands don’t just solve problems, but make her feel some emotion, too. (I feel that way about my iPhone — I LOVE my iPhone. Is that crazy? How can I LOVE a product? But I do. It’s everything I want and more.) It’s true: brands that resonate with women are the perfect fit. They are exactly what we want (expect) and more.

And it all starts with INSPIRATION. Take, for example, our famous Jacqueline Kennedy: The White House Years product and packaging that we designed for Marshall Field’s. Despite our very tight timeline to get approval on products to move forward and execute, we got inspired. We talked to our mothers, our grandmothers. We dove into books and magazines at the library. We learned everything we could about the exhibit that featured over 70 garments worn by the First Lady, photographs, documents and film clips, that showcased how Jackie’s style shaped her husband’s administration. Our goal was to capture the essence of Jacqueline Kennedy’s timeless style and grace through a few products sold by Marshall Field’s, who was sponsoring the exhibit. What kind of products would my mother or grandmother want to buy, that would evoke that emotional feeling when Jackie was in the White House? What kind of items would be fit for a First Lady, or a First Lady’s guests?

We hired Canadian Virginia Johnson to translate our sketches into beautiful watercolor icons to be the focal point of the product design, which helped bring that emotion and inspiration full circle. The result was 16 limited-edition Jacqueline Kennedy: The White House Years products, including hand-painted Limoges pill boxes, leather make-up bags, Limoges jewelry dishes, canapé and dessert plates, bookmarks and leather journals, stationery wardrobe kit and embroidered pillows and linens. Before the exhibition closed, most of the products were sold out.

“We found the fresh perspective we needed in Renita and her team,” said Meg Benson, Specialty Buyer at Marshall Field’s. “Through intense ideation sessions, collaboration and fast turn-around with sketches that perfectly reflected the ideas of our team, we were able to secure Caroline (Kennedy Schlossburg’s) approval in a single meeting … delivering a product suite that not only reflects the refined style of Jacqueline Kennedy, but also satisfies our guests’ desire to capture the enthusiasm and elegance they experience through the collection.”

When you’re designing, think about what makes YOU inspired. What will inspire YOUR AUDIENCE? What research is necessary to nail the creative the first time? Do your homework. Spend time writing, sketching, brainstorming away from your computer to get to the heart of the matter. The ideas will come. Inspiration will, too.

Designing with inspiration unlocks the emotional response that helps trigger a purchase. Why? Because HER BRAND MATTERS!