188: How to Create A Compelling Product Inventor Narrative

188: Use Inventor Narrative to Design Great Hardware Products

August 10, 2023

With Suresh Sethi, Industrial Design Professor at the University of Illinois

Hosted by Kevin Mako, President of MAKO Design + Invent

188: Use Inventor Narrative to Design Great Hardware Products
188: Use Inventor Narrative to Design Great Hardware Products

Suresh Sethi holds the position of Professor of Industrial Design at the University of Illinois. His prior journey encompasses a 15-year tenure as the head of a product design studio. Preceding this, he occupied the role of Vice President and Design Director at Whirlpool, along with holding other significant design positions at various enterprises. In today’s session, Suresh is poised to impart invaluable insights to inventors, startups, and small-scale manufacturers regarding the paramount significance of customer storytelling during the nascent stages of conceiving a novel physical consumer product. He will elucidate how to optimize product success using the findings derived from his Ph.D. thesis focused on this very topic.

Today you will hear us talk about:

  • Crafting products involves establishing connections within the realm of business.
  • Viability in terms of cost and marketability is imperative.
  • Selecting materials that minimize waste in product design optimization.
  • Detach your ego from the design process.
  • Grasping the client’s narrative and the essence behind the product.
  • Product designers operate within an interconnected ecosystem.
  • Nurturing the capacity to comprehend and effectively communicate.
  • What fosters a designer’s affection for the form of their creation?
  • By centring on the inventor’s narrative and refining the product to align with it, inadvertent augmentation of its market potential occurs.
  • The bridge between people and the product’s potential lies in its creation.
  • Stirring emotions in the user.
  • Forging a profound bond between individuals and the product.
  • Stories linger in memory, unlike products.
  • Experiences, not mere products, persist in memory.
  • Cultivating desirable products driven by consumer demand.
  • Precise and articulate communication.
  • A lack of profitability in the product equates to a faltering narrative.
  • Personal life experiences give rise to product concepts.
  • Crafting narratives to guide product design and development.
  • A holistic view that encompasses business considerations alongside product design.
  • Forming an emotional connection with patrons.
  • Forging a memorable and resonant product name.
  • Designing with an emphasis on simplicity and timeless aesthetics.

Timestamp Notes:

  • 3:00 – Creating products is about connecting to the business.
  • 3:05 – Ability to sell and cost, you need both to succeed.
  • 3:30 – Design for lightness and least wastage of materials.
  • 4:15 – How do you make profit with a product?
  • 6:00 – When designing a new type of product, remove your ego, and instead focus on the story of the inventor and product founder.
  • 6:10 – What is the inventor’s story and meaning behind the product?
  • 6:30 – The relationship of trust between the engineers, marketers, and inventor.
  • 7:00 – The ability to understand and to communicate.
  • 7:15 – People remember the story behind the product more than the product itself.
  • 7:30 – P.h.D on how to connect the story to the product then to the market.  The role of narrative in product visualization.
  • 8:45 – What is the narrative and the experience behind the product.
  • 9:15 – Communication with the end-user is key, and narrative capture the story.
  • 10:30 – Always look to connect your product to the user through storytelling.
  • 11:00 – Whirlpool would regularly try and connect with the users to build products that match user experience needs. 
  • 13:00 – Great products come out of invention that helps the inventor’s own life.
  • 14:00 – Branding people use storytelling to propel businesses, but designers need to use the narrative to design a product that matches the inventor vision.
  • 14:30 – Most hardware startups are built from inventors that have a powerful story around the reason for coming up with the invention idea in their own life.
  • 15:15 – Bring your own personal identity into the business of your hardware invention.
  • 16:30 – Bringing your personality into the product business will not only make for a better invention design, but you will enjoy it more as it is core to your values.
  • 17:00 – A delightful experience and story is what users remember.
  • 17:15 – Create simple, beautiful, and timeless forms.

Suresh Sethi Links:

The Product Startup Podcast Links:
Instagram | LinkedIn | Facebook Page | Facebook Group | Pinterest | Twitter | YouTube

PTC Links:
OnShape | Creo

Mako Design Links:
YouTube | Instagram | LinkedIn | Facebook | Pinterest | Twitter

Kevin Mako Links:
Instagram | LinkedIn | Quora | Facebook | Twitter

Partner: PTC’s best-in-class software solutions Onshape: The only cloud-native product development platform that delivers full-featured computer-aided design (CAD), integrated product data management (PDM) and enterprise analytics in a single system, and Creo: 3D CAD solution that provides designers with the most innovative tools to build better products faster, such as generative design, additive manufacturing, real-time simulation, IIoT, and augmented reality.