Product Development: A Year in the Making

By the time this blog post goes out, it will have already been more than a year since we started designing our latest product. The process from design to manufacture has been a long but rewarding journey for us.

Let's start from the beginning.

Preface

As a relatively small, fast-growing company we are always looking for ways to adapt to the ever expanding market. There are some areas that we are still working hard to improve such as faster turnaround times and overall email response times, but these cannot be easily resolved without rapid expansion of the team and this is something we aim to take our time with.

The most important step we felt at this stage in the company was to develop a better version of our product. When we started this company in 2013 we were one of the first new millennium companies to start offering Wax Seals. There were a handful of veteran companies in the US that had survived the internet boom but most were outdated and still operating as if it were the 20th century. Our arrival onto the scene was a much needed breath of fresh air in the Wax Seal industry.

Due to its rise in popularity, we have seen the market become saturated with more and more copycat companies all trying to undercut each other. It has reached a point where the consumer can no longer identify who's product is who. As a leading supplier and specialist in this area we felt that it was important for us to take the next step forward and lead by example.

Stage One - Analysis

First we started off by taking the existing design of our wax seal and analysing every last detail from ergonomics right down to the individual materials. These were our findings:

- Our customers would often mark a line on the brass head in marker so that the image would be straight when stamping it into the wax. We decided that the new handle should have a flat top with our logo embedded into it so that you know which way is up without having to look at the bottom of the stamp.

- Another observation was that the brass head should have added weight for a better hand feel. This would also ensure that the wax cools quicker, making it easier to apply.

 

Stage Two - Design

We went through 100's of iterations before finally settling on something that we felt was right. Not only did we want to create something that was unique in shape, but we also wanted it to fit comfortably in your hand. Quite often our customers will be stamping hundreds if not thousands of invites at a time, so ergonomics are a top priority.

Once we were happy with the initial shape we set about translating it into a digital render. We have a strong background in design and so this step was a lot of fun for us. After a couple of months we had a final 3D render which could then be made into a prototype.

Stage Two - Development

After weeks of testing it was time to develop the final product, and this is where we faced our greatest challenge yet. In the beginning we were lucky enough to find a family-run manufacturer who specialised in homewares for large household brands in the UK and America. The learning curve was particularly steep for us and the longest period in the development was with the countless number of back and forths where we had to revise the design to suit the manufacturing process.

Here is the final working CAD drawing which was used in the production of the first functioning sample:

Unfortunately, nothing can really prepare you for what happens during this period of development and suddenly it all came to a complete standstill. The factory that we were working with was forced to go through a 6 month period of government regulation testing and so we were left completely stranded. 

Stage Three - Packaging

This is the step that would normally come last, however since the product was now on hold we thought it would be a good idea to have everything ready and prepared so that both the product and the packaging would fit hand in hand. For us this was an important step because our business is all about 'Creating an impression' and so it's only right that we should practice what we preach. The design for the new packaging came about from our newly revived branding, which is a reflection of ourselves and how we are maturing not only as people but as a company as well.

We wanted to maintain some elements of the original packaging so we went with a dark card stock on the outside and a kraft paper lining for the inside. The main difference with this packaging is that the box slides out in a slow revealing motion to create a sense of mystery and excitement during unboxing. Unlike before where the box lid simply lifted off the top to reveal the full product in one fell swoop.

Now both our business cards and our packaging feel consistent.

Final Stage - Piecing everything together

After a long wait and much nail-biting, we have finally reached a version of the prototype that we are happy with and are proud to finally reveal to the rest of the world.

Developing a new product has not been an easy task. It has taken us a long time to get to this point, but as the saying goes "No matter how great the talent or efforts, some things just take time".

It is with the greatest hope that our new die-cast logo set into the top of the handle (a first of its kind in the Wax Seal industry), will become a signature feature for our brand. We hope to release the full details soon so please be sure to keep on eye on our Instagram account.

 

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