Things we use and things we use up

Earnest Elmo Calkins - Technical PR, Engineering PR, Industrial PR, Manufacturing PRA great article on design in this morning’s Guardian begins with this quote from American advertising prophet Earnest Elmo Calkins; “Goods fall into two classes: those that we use, such as motor cars and safety razors, and those that we use up, such as toothpaste or soda biscuits. Consumer engineering must see to it that we use up the kind of goods we now merely use.”

This is interesting for me in two senses; as a marketing person and a professional involved in engineering. From an industrial marketing point of view I always try and do the opposite of Calkin’s claim. If I’m working on a brochure for a client, I try to ensure that the document will last as long as possible without needing to be replaced. Of course, one has to measure this against relevancy and the efficacy of an ageing design. But in an industry without the budget of Coca Cola, Microsoft or Apple it makes financial sense for customers.

From an engineering or product design point of view this still seems to be the philosophy applied by most manufacturers. If it can be broken; make sure someone needs to fix it. However, there are a few companies out there whose focus is on the longevity of their products. And for those companies this very fact becomes their cornerstone marketing message; it becomes the thing they can promote to ensure they stand out from the crowd. So perhaps not all engineering must be focused on using up the things we buy as quickly as possible. Maybe there is space for longevity.

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Richard Stone

Stone Junction is a cool technical PR agency based in Stafford. We work for all sorts of businesses, with a particular focus on technology, technical and engineering companies. We like being sent cake and biscuits by clients, journalists and prospects.

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