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3D Brand: Innovation & Identity in Medical Design (Part 3)


3D Brand: Innovation & Identity in Medical Design (Part 3)

In this third and final part of our series of articles - about the Rejoin success story - I will present some of the latest tools we have developed for Rejoin. Among other things, there will also be a little insight into the design process that enables WILDDESIGN and the Rejoin team to continuously develop new and innovative tools that are consistently derived from a design language, now and in the future. Please read again Part 1 and Part 2to familiarize yourself with the whole story.

In the interim since my last article, the Shanghai team managed to secure some key Rejoin staff for an interview during a milestone meeting. Rejoin founder, Mr. Xu, and managing director, Mr. Huang, were invited for a series of informal conversations about the company's origin story, its brand essence, our design partnership and Rejoin's positioning in the sports medicine market. It is a great pleasure to include their feedback and insights in this concluding article. We thank them for their time and the long and successful partnership.

The interview - customer expectations and feedback

At the beginning of our discussion, Mr. Xu explained to us why Rejoin entered the sports medicine market in the first place. "It was the needs of the patients," Xu explains, which drove him. "Because sports medicine is still a completely untapped field in China in terms of non-invasive surgery. Due to the lack of professional providers, it can be seen as a "blue ocean market" - a huge field for benefit innovations that drives us to establish an international brand right here".

As this was Rejoin's first experience of working with a medical design agency, Xu outlined his initial expectations: "We wanted to get systematic recommendations that would lead us to a more comprehensive and complete service for our brand". When asked if the design of these tools fulfills Rejoin's original company vision, Xu simply replies: "Yes, it does. The product design continues to be strengthened and the design language is being formulated bit by bit."

To date, we have designed 15 unique surgical instruments or devices, developed them to production readiness and facilitated the development of simpler devices via a design guideline manual.
This manual, which is discussed below, enables WILDDESIGN and Rejoin to accelerate and secure the design process. With predetermined decisions on design features such as color or finish, the efficiency of the development work can be increased and valuable design resources can focus on more complex technological developments.

As Rejoin's portfolio continues to grow, Xu explains: "We have now built confidence and core competencies to master this challenging market in daily development practice. Starting from China and looking to the global market, Rejoin will not only be an innovative player, but also an important influencer for academic research."

Piece by piece, instrument by instrument, we are approaching this vision locally in the APAC market by offering complete and customized sets of highly specialized tools for individual body regions. For example: the shoulder toolset, which was literally developed in the form of a toolbox.
The idea and goal is to have a range of toolsets for each relevant body region that requires arthroscopic surgery.

It is as if WILDDESIGN and Rejoin are Formula 1 engineers who develop the instrument, analyze the data from user tests and optimize the function step by step, while surgeons and hospital staff are the pit-stop mechanics with their unique toolboxes. They do the physical work on the patient under enormous time pressure, combining their extensive and complex knowledge to do their job efficiently and effectively.

It goes without saying that we as patients like to imagine that the job is done carefully, of course never under time pressure against a "pit stopwatch", or that the "lap time" of our bed is not a world record when it leaves the operating theater.

In truth, however, these time constraints are exactly why non-invasive surgery is on the rise and has become the No.1 method for the rapid repair of sports injuries. The acceleration of surgery, which allows for high throughput, can cope with increasing demand and reduced costs, combined with the other inherent benefits of non-invasive surgical techniques - faster recovery.

In many ways, the time pressure here can also be seen as a blessing in disguise, as it initiates more efficient workflows and requires an innovative mindset throughout. I should mention that dealing with burns, car accidents with broken bones, heat stroke or dislocated shoulders are fortunately not normal professional demands on designers. We first had to learn to deal with these demands.

Regardless, we can learn to adapt to time pressures by accepting the odd bit of chronic fatigue here and there, knowing that it drives innovation. So it's only natural that as a design agency we also move and evolve just as the medical industry does, providing Rejoin with quality-driven, contemporary product design that incorporates rigorous usability requirements and helps fulfill Rejoin's short- and long-term visions.

The key to the global Rejoin brand

To achieve Rejoin's global goal, we also had to think globally as an agency. We had to expand our understanding of the entire sports medicine market to ultimately create a design language that would enable coherent and highly functional products that could compete with larger, established players.

One such method, which we at WILDDESIGN use for our customers, is to bring together the accumulated product and user experience know-how in an easy-to-understand, user-friendly manual. It is both a guide for future product developments and a valuable internal company asset.

In this case, we call it the Corporate Industrial Design Manual or CIDM for short. (other synonyms are CPPG - Corporate Product Perception Guideline, 3D-Styleguide, Design-DNA). The idea of this manual can be used for large companies to structure and diversify a huge portfolio when product differentiation is required, or for small companies when it comes to establishing the design language at an early stage.

The CIDM we developed for Rejoin begins with the introduction of brand attributes and values, then moves on to ergonomic considerations and requirements, leading to a kind of industrial design philosophy. This combination of function and form is then applied and cataloged throughout the manual. Chapters such as shape, color, logo placement, material finish and even specific manufacturing processes are described to achieve the desired result.

Methodologically, we ensure that the next tool development is in line with both the brand values and the functional aspects related to the intended use, without neglecting the cost and time factors. In essence, the manual is a tool to balance all requirements; a tool that enables the application of a consistent design language, which in turn creates coherence between the brand and product experience.

While it is not a sales tool, it indirectly benefits the sales process by providing a consistently recognizable verbal and visual language. When asked how Rejoin uses this manual and how the role of design language is developed in their company, Xu and Huang have this to say:

"We focused on good communication and sophisticated planning, especially between our R & D team and our marketing team. It was essential that these two teams understood the importance of brand image and design language through good communication with each other."

While the CIDM is sometimes considered the bible of industrial design for a brand, it should not be used alone or considered the sole solution to design problems. As each development brings its own unique problems, the CIDM needs to be combined with in-situ design insights gained from user testing and practical phases such as prototyping or rapid iterative ideation.

Given the often diverse nature of projects, the design team should learn to assess and appropriately apply discretionary design decisions, judging when and how to use the manual, or whether a degree of flexibility is required. In this sense, it should be viewed as a living document that evolves at appropriate milestones along an organization's roadmap.

Usability feedback

With our designs now in the hands of the end user, we were finally able to ask Rejoin what their customers are saying about the brand and products. Mr. Xu begins by saying: "The feedback from our sales force is very positive as we have created a unique selling point due to our excellent product design. However, surgeons have other concerns - the functional requirements of the products and professional training are their main focus. However, the visual identity and product design also helps us to promote our brand image among users, thereby highlighting and publicizing our brand characteristics. "

From our discussion, it was clear that Xu considers the opinion of surgeons to be extremely important to the success of Rejoin. By focusing on functional requirements and hints at improved professional training, there is now a need to align Rejoin with a service design model, especially given their intention to become a center for academic knowledge around sports medicine and non-invasive surgery. It is encouraging to hear that the brand is becoming known for its unique product design and that this is promoting its brand image as this sums up the main intention for creating a CIDM.

Corporate industrial design, not just unique industrial design, is the key here, or, in the words of Mr. Xu, "the customer may not immediately understand our philosophy when we introduce a single product. That's why it's important to present our products systematically and across the entire portfolio, using different methods and approaches for different target groups where appropriate.

Conclusions & next steps

While there is still a long way to go to achieve global success, the current CIDM provides a solid foundation for building a comprehensive and coherent product portfolio. At the same time, it serves the brand with a visual identity that they can assert and maintain in their market segment. As Rejoin will now continue to grow, it is important that we continue to nurture the CIDM throughout our collaboration, refining the key design features that make it the Rejoin brand, while extending the design language to potentially new developments.

From a branding perspective, Xu concludes: "Product design discussions are now much clearer and smoother than before. However, the ever-advancing development in branding requires designers (WILDDESIGN) to provide a series of further professional services. We need to stabilize our development team and continue to maintain good communication with our customers to ensure that we meet the quality standards and expectations set by our final products."

To summarize, we are indeed just at the beginning. From the Rejoin idea to its success in China over the past 3 years, it is now important to shift our professional support towards branding and marketing and look for innovative ways to motivate sales.

While the current product brochure forms the beginning of this next chapter, it will also change as we are guided by customer feedback and the evolving brand strategy.

We hope you have found this three-part article informative and exciting. If you would like to discuss this or any other project, please contact us.

Do you have any further questions on this topic?

Would you like to find out more about how CIDM can benefit your company? Or would you like to know how your brand or product can enter the Chinese market?

Please sign up for our 04 Minute Designletter and if you haven't already done so, download our MEDICAL DESIGN TREND UPDATE 2018 eBook for free!

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