Equal parts creative and strategic, Russell is a design force to be reckoned with. From logos and typography to animation and UX, his talents enhance the digital presence of all our clients. Russell’s at his best when creating brands, immersed in interaction design, poring over the latest trends, or crunching through his daily quota of carrots.
General working style:tinker and trim, keep it modular and organized
Thinks in terms of:type, interaction, Eddie Izzard quotes
Favorite low-emission vehicles:hybrid-engine sedan, whisky-powered skateboard
Know any good restaurants?my kitchen (reservations required)
Most commonly absorbing:project briefs, coffee, inaccessible music
Aether Apparel makes, among other things, absurdly comfortable and great-fitting hooded sweatshirts. I’ve recommended them to friends. An old girlfriend tried to steal mine. Earlier this fall I went back for a second. If you stop by FVM’s offices this winter, there’s a decent chance I’ll be wearing one and you can try it on. But for now, I can share with you the gorgeous presentation they put on with their packaging. With a few small touches, they make an impression much more in line with a high-end lifestyle or fashion brand than with a typical sportswear outfitter.
For me, the real centerpiece of an Aether package, other than the item ordered of course, is the Aether Journal, a fold-out 16 page zine of redesigned content from their blog and newsletter. It’s printed on a lightly textured medium-weight matte stock that compliments the muted tones of their photography. The issue I received contains behind-the-scenes looks at how they designed a motorcycle jacket and a retail space; features on traveling the Peruvian Amazon, reading clouds to spot warm fronts, and rock climber Beverly Johnson; and product reviews of a foldable kayak and bike shelves – items Aether doesn’t sell but which their customers are likely to find interesting. Before receiving the Journal, I wasn’t inclined to look at their blog at all, but it was the little bit of encouragement I needed. Its content is similar but reveals additional interests in industrial design and architecture, and to my surprise links to other sites I regularly visit like The Fox Is Black. The whole experience deftly signals that the people behind Aether have interests similar to mine, or at least know their customers well and are happy to cater to them beyond simply promoting their own goods.
Other details are maybe a bit less impressive on their own but together create a cohesive and perhaps even sophisticated feel: a catalog with attractive full-bleed photography and neatly drawn icons; a heavyweight envelope/sleeve containing the receipt, order information and return labels; a thick, solid clothing tag attached with rope and some sort of safety pin that I’ve never seen before (always good not to have to find scissors). The icing on the cake is a synthetic cloth tote bag containing all of the package’s contents. Granted, I was already a satisfied repeat customer, but the care and attention to detail they put into the peripheral elements of their packaging helps to create a strong, unique brand and goes a long way to making me fan for life.
What can a marketer learn here? The lesson isn’t that you need to print your blog or put your stuff in a tote bag. It’s that you don’t always need to reimagine your product or overhaul your identity to take your brand to the next level. Sometimes, the difference between forgettably average and memorably extraordinary is just a few seemingly minor details. Look for new ways to make what you’re already doing more valuable to your audience. Show your customers you know who they are, that you care about their experience, and that maybe you have something in common. Of course, if you need a little assistance, FVM can help you get started.
Check out some more photos of Aether’s packaging materials below: