Setting an Elite standard


Kenmore partnered with Sundberg-Ferar in the development of their next-generation small appliance visual brand language (VBL). Kenmore was ready to hit the reset button and explore a complete line change. They leveraged SF’s research and industrial design teams to explore new aesthetic directions for Kenmore and design multiple product families. SF then applied its proprietary MAPSS research technique, (Measuring Adoption Propensity for Styling Selection), to help Kenmore select a direction that not only satisfied mass market desirability, but would also lead amongst early adopters and styling influencers.

The team refined the VBL to complement Kenmore’s manufacturing capabilities and deliver a sophisticated tapered body theme with angled chrome accents, elevating the premium appearance of the Elite line.


Consumer Products

After initial design exploration work, Kenmore and Sundberg-Ferar chose three design themes to take into a research phase. These design themes were compared against the two premium market leaders in a brandless design study.

The design theme that wins the largest mass market appeal is not always the best choice if it’s revealed that it’s not as desirable amongst style leaders and early adopters. Uncovering this insight is the purpose of our MAPSS technique. One design theme in our research for Kenmore, coined “architectural elegance”, not only won amongst the mass majority and amongst styling trend leaders, it also beat out all of the competition. Research results sometimes leave room for internal debate, but in this case, the winning VBL was clear.

Sears: Kenmore™ and Kenmore Elite™ Visual Brand Language

When relaunching a visual brand language it’s important to be ahead of the adoption curve and win with trend setters and early adopters, even if it’s polarizing to many at launch. If you have a product that wins with both segments, you know you have something special on your hands.

Human Impact

Small appliances occupy a space in the kitchen that serve a purpose, but also make a visual statement as part of the homeowner’s personal aesthetic. This line for Kenmore has a unique form language that breaks away from the normal cubism of appliances, to uplift and bring elegance to the countertop by tapering the forms, even with traditionally square items like toasters and ovens. 

Business Impact

The team designed four appliances within this project to launch the new VBL, but also developed a robust styling guide depicting clear product details for every physical element of the Kenmore product line, yet left room for interpretation as future design, engineering and manufacturing teams translate the theme across the remaining thirteen appliances in the lineup.

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