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What is Art Direction and Product Design?

Today’s modern commercial landscape is full of blandness. So many different brands and organizations are virtually indistinguishable from one another. When a consumer enters the market looking for the best product, how will they know which brand and company to purchase from? And more importantly, how are they going to know that they should be buying from you? The answer lies within the concepts of art direction and product design. 

Art direction and product design have a massive impact on how people perceive you, your brand, and your products. How you design something aesthetically creates external changes that can either draw people into your products or drive them away. These two essential roles can spell a history of success or failure in almost any company’s history. Here is what they are, when they mean, and how they can work together to create massive amounts of success for you and your company. 

What is Art Direction?

Art direction is fundamentally artistic oversight for a project or brand. It’s focused on creating a unique identity for your products and services so that they can stand out from the crowd and competitors. It sets, creates, and perpetuates a singular voice and feeling so that consumers are easily able to identify a brand identity in an oversaturated marketplace. 

The point of art direction is to make your brand stand out, and make sure that every product and service that your company provides is easily identifiable with your own style. It takes all the little pieces of a project and puts them together in a way that is inspiring, alluring, and aesthetically pleasing. 

Having good art direction sets you apart. Often, businesses will skimp on their art direction to cut costs and save money. But when they do that, there’s very little that a consumer can do to identify a product or service that they like and distinguish it from the others. Once you have a well-thought-out and crafted art direction, all the other pieces can easily fall into place and make sure your company has the greatest chance of sticking out as possible. 

One example of intentional art direction is a project that we did at Harper+Scott. We designed and produced a collection of products for a company’s rebrand launch. Even though many different types of products were made, they all fit together perfectly and shared the same artistic identity, which fit the company’s new branding. 

What Does an Art Director Do?

The person who chiefly guides the Art Direction of a company is usually known as the Art Director. This is the person who makes sure that all the different aspects of a company and its projects stick together so that the Art Direction can be as uniform as possible. When all the products can very clearly and effectively stick together in the crowd, you can tell that the Art Director is doing a good job. 

The Art Director is in charge of directing the artists who work for the company and their artistic direction. They maintain the same mood, attitude, and feeling behind all of the different areas of a company, from products, to social media, to marketing, to packaging, all the way to how physical office space is organized and designed. Their job is to make sure that the whole brand is cohesive and works together in a symbiotic way. 

This often means working with artists of all different backgrounds and types, from illustrators, photographers, videographers, social media experts, writers, and many other art forms. An Art Director’s job is to tie all of these together in a unifying way and make all the different art forms build upon each other. It creates cohesion and oneness in a brand, making the art much more appealing to the end consumer. 

What is Product Design?

When it comes down to it, Product Design is all about solving problems. It’s taking a product concept, or even an already existing product, and making it as easy to use, accessible, and user friendly as possible. It solves every problem and every potential problem along the way. The goal of product design is to create products that are the best that they can be, that fit within the functionality of a company’s functional and aesthetical identity. 

Product design is often focused on prototyping and conceptualizing products, and then working on the product all the way through the design process. It critically analyses and attempts to understand the product, so that it can make the most functional and useful product possible, without sacrificing usability and versatility. It’s a very challenging process to fully understand a product, but when it’s done right, it ends with creating a product that is incredibly usable and very successful in the marketplace. Good product design directly creates good products, and that is the foundation of a good company. 

What does a Product Designer Do?

On a day-to-day basis, a Product Designer is responsible for making sure that every product in their jurisdiction is as usable and functional as possible, with virtually no flaws. They spend a lot of time prototyping and creating interfaces, implementing uses, and testing the products that they create. A huge focus that good Product Designers have is understanding their own products so that they can know exactly what the product must do. That way, they can know how to make the produce accomplish its purpose in the best and most efficient way possible. 

A designer is often focused on the nitty-gritty details of how and why what they are doing works. Good designers are always balancing innovation with creativity so that what they make is both exciting and fresh while still maintaining a level of familiarity that leads to accessibility from the general public. It’s not easy to find and maintain that balance, but when the designer can nail the sweet spot, it creates a product that will truly stand out from the rest, even in a marketplace that is full of close competitors. In a world with so many different products that try and accomplish the same things, the real difference between products often comes down to small things. That’s why good designers are so important; the small things are their specialty. 

How do Art Direction and Product Design Work Together?

Art Direction and Product Design fit together incredibly well. They are both tasked with creating something that stands out from the rest but does it through different means. They are essentially two sides of the same coin. 

Art Direction is focused on the general aesthetic vision. It pulls together a brand and makes the whole array of products that they offer align together to promote a family of products instead of just multiple randomized projects. Product Design implements the physical and small changes into reality and creates the products and designs that the Art Direction calls for. Functionally, while Art Direction is concerned with how a product feels to the customer, Product Design focuses on how the product looks, acts, and works. These two different focuses come together to make a product that is simultaneously innovative within a lineup of products yet remains cohesive with everything else in the brand. 

Here at Harper+Scott, we work in-depth with both of these concepts of product creation. We pride ourselves on the way that we innovate within various industries that are already saturated with talented creators. We strive to give companies individuality and identity so that they can stand out in the massive sea of products and brands. We’ve worked with several major brands over the years and have found a place in the industry that we are very proud of. If you would like to connect with us on how to create a better product and brand for your own company, don’t hesitate to reach out to us on our website


Art Direction and Product Design are two of the most important things that a company in the modern world can invest time and effort into. They are what sets a company apart from the rest, and give them a viable way to move forward in a world where there are so many brands fighting for a top spot. These are what separate the lower companies from the larger ones, and these are what can propel you and your company to the very top.