What is a Product Design Consultancy?

We explore what a product design company does, how to choose an agency and how to get the best out of your chosen product design consultancy.

Entering the world of product design and commissioning an agency can be a daunting experience. This article seeks to help your journey in selecting the right product design consultancy to work for you to develop your new product idea.

Let’s start by clearing up the terminology. A business that sells it’s service in designing and developing new products can be known as any of the following: product design consultancy; product development consultancy; industrial design consultancy; engineering design consultancy. Consultancy can be interchanged with: agency, firm, company, consultants. It is quite confusing and there are subtle differences but overall they all mean roughly the same thing. It is a group of designers who specialise in the development of products. 

It becomes more confusing when we also consider software and app development. These disciplines also describe their process as product development and the output as products even though they are not physical items. This article is about product design consultancies who develop physical products that can be touched.

What is Product Design Consultancy?

A product design consultancy is a business selling the services of at least one designer to develop products. These businesses vary between producing virtual products like apps to physical consumer products such as kettles and to complex industrial products like printing presses. Apparently 90% of physical product design consultancies are 5 people or less. The largest companies of this type in the UK are still generally no more than 100 employees and so overall these are small companies.

Read on to discover more about commissioning a product design consultancy to develop your product and to understand more about a design company’s processes for developing products.

The Process

Selecting a Product Design Consultancy involves initial investigation, seeking references and meeting the team. Find out more about this critical first step: Choosing a Design Consultancy

Hiring a Product Design Consultancy involves defining a very clear and detailed project brief, agreeing the scope of works for their services and agreeing the fee and payment terms. Normally this will be done via a proposal and a client contract. Find out more: Hiring a Product Design Consultancy

Managing a Product Design Consultancy well can yield improved results and therefore is worth considering. Find out more: Getting the Best from your Product Designer

How do Product Design Consultancies work?

All creative agencies roughly work in the same way. They take the initial brief outline a stage a work in a proposal, the client agrees to proceed and the agency produces the work for sign off. Some agencies are more flexible and work in an agile fashion but this takes considerable trust on the part of the client as the scope of work is less defined. The advantage of a defined scope is that it can be reviewed and signed off precisely so everyone knows where they stand. 

Normally a larger agency will employ account managers and so the designer is not normally the client’s main point of contact. This is less likely in a smaller agency. Not directly communicating with the designer can be frustrating for some clients. In smaller agencies it is often the owner than wins the pitch and then the work gets handed to a designer. In this scenario you might want to ensure that you’ve met the actual person working on your project before commissioning.

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Product Design

Product Design Case Studies

Milk Monster

Milk Monster is an innovative timer product to prevent potential illness in infants through feeding formula or breast milk that has been left out too long. With parents always seeking ways to make feeding time that little bit easier, Milk Monster offers a great way for mums and dads to ensure that breast or formula milk is still safe for consumption. Simple, yet effective, the timer can be attached to bottles of any size and has a multitude of features to ensure it is child-friendly and safe for baby. The glow-in-the-dark feature and the backlit screen allow parents to read the timer in the dark, which is perfect for night feeds. The splash-proof, dishwasher-friendly design also means the Milk Monster can withstand anything baby throws at it – literally! Milk Monster was exhibited at the Harrogate Nursery fair where it won the innovation award! Milk Monster is available to buy on Amazon.

CozyGlo

CozyGlo was established after realising the lack of quality children’s night lights on the market. A multi-purpose night light, with functions including a dimmer, clock, stopwatch, light alarm and thermometer, would make the lives of exhausted parents significantly easier. We were approached to develop 3 versions of the light: Papa Penguin, Colonel Comfort and Beatrice the Rescue Dog. The process of developing Cozyglo involved CAD and electronics development to ensure that the lights were production-ready and produce a warm reassuring glow. We have produced a number of prototypes in order to tweak and refine the wonderful characters. CozyGlo is now available to buy in retailers across the country including Amazon.

Do you need a product design consultancy?

We’ve worked with a number of clients to bring all manner of consumer products to the market. Take a look at them and some of the other products we’ve worked on in our case studies section.

Contact us today using the form below and we can arrange a call to discuss your project requirements.

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