A Design Language for Creating Solutions From Diverse Brands

The Story

Combining diverse brands into integrated solutions.

Emerson Automation Solutions has a proud history of providing industry-leading products and services for well over a century. They have extremely strong product brands that range in size and function from multi-ton valves to portable handheld devices, and continue to expand their product portfolio with key strategic acquisitions. The challenge facing Emerson was the need to integrate these individual product brands into a compelling suite of solutions to maintain their competitive edge. They needed a Design Language that would tie their individual product brands into a set of cohesive Emerson solutions.

"M3 helped us create a design language strategy and guidelines that are now adopted across our $11 billion organization. Our customers will be able to see that our large portfolio of products and solutions are from one company." Jane Lansing VP Marketing
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The Details

The Critical First Step

In order to create a cohesive Design Language, the first step is always to understand both the breadth of potential products and product types, so we know how it will be applied and at the same time uncover how stakeholders will interact with it during its life. M3 began by creating an extensive pictorial database of all existing Emerson Automation Solutions products. We then then reviewed it with the Emerson team to ensure we had identified all appropriate brands and products and could adapt the Design Language to incorporate future product additions. 

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The Details

Stakeholders and Success Drivers

The M3 team gathered inputs from key stakeholders across Emerson and their customers. In-person and phone interviews were used extensively to gather insights into the desires, needs and issues facing those stakeholders. Visits to representative field installations were performed and helped us better understand the products in-context. After all this information was gathered, the data was used to create an initial set of verbal attributes describing the Emerson brand values and aspirations and was converted into a set of guiding principles and Success Drivers to use in developing and evaluating the Design Language concepts.

Putting it all Together

With our Success Drivers in hand, the M3 team developed a set of potential Design Language options. Due to the broad Emerson portfolio and the vast differences in product types, it became clear that this was going to be a challenging effort.

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

While some companies are able to address their Design Language needs with simple color and other visual cues, this approach was not appropriate for the Emerson product portfolio. Colors were strongly identified with key existing brands and could not be changed. The device types were also extremely varied. A different approach was needed.

Unifying a Diverse Product Offering

It became clear to the M3 Design Team that the most effective way to organize and develop an Emerson Design Language would be from the perspective of hardware user touchpoints.  Through touchpoint design, we could develop and implement a level of consistency and usability that not only improves the Emerson user experience, but also elevates the brand identity. We identified the key Touchpoint categories, and after reviewing it with Emerson and incorporating their feedback, we created the Design Language in both physical and electronic form for distribution.

Signed, Sealed, Delivered

Once the Design Language document was completed and approved by Emerson, the next steps were to help deploy it to the various product development teams across the Automation Solutions organization. This was accomplished via a series of global training sessions as well as several product development projects with Emerson teams that helped them apply the Design Language in the efforts.  As with all Design Languages, this one exists as a living document and must be updated to include new product types, as well as other facets of the product experience as required. Since its original publication, M3 has added multiple new product categories and has expanded its scope to include shipment packaging / OOBE, the PlantWeb™ UI/UX and others.

Your team literally helped us change our industry and we couldn’t have done it without you.

Arlyn Miller Director, Hardware and Support Services

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