If one believes that modified grooming down results in being happier, more productive and more creative, than one’s behavior will hear that out. How one is groomed has always been linked to how one behaves, hence the expression “ looks like a million bucks”. The way you look affects the way you think, feel and act. Industry insiders have long observed that renewed attention to appearance is a sign of recovery and strength.
Managers are empowering employees to choose modified grooming methods from a variety of ways. Simply stated; good grooming habits is demonstrating your commitment and concern for your well-being during office hours. In fact, organizations are reporting such positive benefits from employees with clean grooming habits. Good grooming is here to stay and even part of a dress for success policy at many prominent corporations.
I recently had the privilege of speaking with Benjamin Wilson, Industrial Designer, Global Technology & DesignCommunications Lead for Braun & Gillette Venus. Procter & Gamble about the great history of the brand since 1921, why men are looking for tools to make their grooming effortless and that enable the looks they desire and why he believes that technology and needs will change, but Braun’s principles will remain relevant!
Joseph DeAcetis: Talk to Forbes about the great history, and development of your brand?
Ben Wilson: Since 1921, Braun has been a benchmark for useful, functional design and products of the highest quality – from its founding years as a radio manufacturer, to the debut of the S50 shaver in the ’50s, not to mention its current innovations in personal care tools and the recent return to the audio market, Braun is a brand with longevity. The undeniable influence of the era of Fritz Eichler and the Ulm School of Design on the role of design in business includes the thinking that led to the iconic “less, but better” way of creating objects.” From personal care to audio, timepieces to kitchen appliances, the Braun brand permeates many personal everyday products. Braun since day one has been about creating better solutions and experiences that improve people’s lives.
My background: At the beginning of 2002, I decided to move to Europe to experience new cultures, learn more about myself and to start my design career. I now have an amazing family of 4 and enjoy being part of the European and P&G design scene. Names like Hans Gugelot, Wilhelm Wagenfeld and naturally Dieter Rams drew me to Germany.
To be able to call myself a Braun Designer and have the privilege to share the knowledge I have gained at Braun, is a great honour. I have made it my mission to share my learnings and play a role in ensuring that the next generation of designers understand that it is not merely an aesthetic, but an approach, a way of thinking and doing things that leads to better products, ones that meet human needs and that are created to stand the test of time – the Germans call this having a “Haltung”, a way of doing things.
In addition to my industrial design experience, I have continuously represented Braun as an internal and external brand ambassador and moved from the executional design function to lead Braun Technology and Design Communications since 2016.
Joseph DeAcetis: In your words, what is your competitive advantage in development and specialized product.
Ben Wilson: Braun can be summed up simply, it is, and always has been, about creating objects for use that are based on human needs and that are designed and engineered to the highest quality to stand the test of time. In short, for humans, simplicity of use and built to last. We call this “Designed for what matters”. The idea of respecting humans is an underlying, recurring theme of our story, from looking after the humans that work at Braun through to treating the users with respect by means of considering their needs and helping them have a good experience with Braun products over a long time.
Joseph DeAcetis: How do you intend to market to Millennial’s and Gen Z – whom quite often, do not wish to follow the rules?
Ben Wilson: Having stood the test of time for almost 100 years, our Haltung has future. This generation, like various before, are looking for what will be next, what is most important for them and the world? What type of world do they want to live in? This generation, as Gary Vaynerchuk says, “have options”. Like no generation before, they have the ability to make change happen, to start a company, to go live within days and reach millions of people with their ideas… they don’t have to settle for mediocrity or things they don’t agree with anymore. They are looking for things that are authentic, real and that are intrinsically “good” – our Haltung, way of doing things, has a future. Technology and needs will change, but our principles will remain relevant. Imagine if the generations to come understand what truly good design is? In my opinion, one of the most important Dieter Rams quotes is
“Good design is making something intelligible and memorable. Great Design is making something memorable and meaningful”.
A thought/quote developed in association with my long-term business partner and friend Dr. Peter Kapos: In Braun’s current marketing approach to Millennials and Gen Z, the company are reconnecting with their brand tradition, particularly as it was formed in the 1960s and ‘70s. It’s standard practice for companies today to study their audiences in order to adapt messaging to fit their perceived requirements. Braun have realised that there’s already a clean dovetailing between its deep level ethos, its Haltung, and the concerns of young people. Considerations about better living through a more conscious and deliberate relation to objects, an emphasis on quality and experience, a desire to reduce clutter, noise and chaos, awareness about the direct relation between our individual choices as consumers and the future of a habitable planet – all of these thoughts directly informed Braun industrial design from the early ‘70s on. They are Braun Design DNA. Of course, these issues are also of urgent concern for a younger generation growing up in a precarious and, in many ways, perilous social and physical environment in which futures, both personal and planetary, are uncertain. So, for Braun, all that is required to find the marketer’s holy grail of relevance is just to be true to itself. That may sound cheesy, but it in practice this has required the company to take a long hard look at itself, and to make some brave decisions. Haltung is, after all, something that must be practiced rather than preached. As a company, Braun is looking forward to earning the regard of its young audiences as thecompany’s Haltung is increasingly evident in its products”.
Joseph DeAcetis: Talk to us in details about the 3 new shavers?
Ben Wilson: Braun manufactures various shavers and the Braun Series 9 is the World’s most efficient electric shaver, torture-tested on 3-5-day beards. The five shaving elements capture more hair in one stroke compared to other Braun shavers, for a flawless shave and provides both a close and gentle shave, without compromise.
However, this is not necessarily what all men are looking for when it comes to their grooming needs. Through extensive research we found that it takes a lot of attention and effort not to miss any hairs when shaving. Men generally just accept that there are some hard-to-reach areas whilst shaving, such as the jawline, and adapt their shaving technique to get the smoothest results. Therefore, Braun took on the challenge to address this and to deliver the ultimate shaving experience for men.
After several years of research and with the help of 10 ́s of thousands of men across the globe, Braun developed the NEW Series 7, Series 6 and Series 5 shavers with an extremely slim and perfectly balanced body. The new innovative slim drive system enabled the all new Series 7 3D flex head to ensure that the shaver head, which adapts to every contour of the face, can detail with ease and enables an easy smooth in-use experience that ensures closeness. This new generation of shavers brings together breakthrough technology, human first design and engineering excellence to provide a shaving experience that is easy, smooth and gentle.
SERIES 5, SERIES 6 AND SERIES 7 HERO FEATURES EXPLAINED
A NEW slim and ergonomic design – the handle has been redesigned to deliver better shaving with
• The angle between the handle and the shaver head is designed to allow the shaver head to stay in contact with the skin.
• The handle is slimmer to ensure a better grip and handling during the shave.
•The shavers have been perfectly weighted to balance the device requiring less effort while shaving.
•All three shavers can be used both wet and dry.
NEW and improved shaving system – for more power delivered to the blades
• Features advanced specialised cutting elements: a middle trimmer to capture longer hairs and two ultra-thin SensoFoils for a close and thorough shave.
• For superior shaving performance, the Series 5, 6 and 7 all feature a new and improved direct drive system which enables this new generation of shavers to cut through even very dense facial hair.
NEW EasyClick system to upgrade your shaver with attachments: From the perfect 3-day stubble to perfectly smooth skin, the series 5, 6 and 7 can be upgraded with attachments for ultimate versatility. This is the first of its kind from Braun, all of this in a single tool!
• Precision Trimmer: for moustache and sideburns trimming. • Beard Trimmer: for beard styles from 0.5mm to 7mm.
• Stubble Beard Trimmer: for a perfect and precise 3-day beard look without the effort, this is thanks to the hairs being captured inside the shaver head.
• Body Groomer: for a head-to-toe grooming. • Cleansing Brush: for deep pore-cleansing.
• EasyClick functionality: Every attachment has been designed to be interchangeable with one simple click.
Fast charge technology: Powerful Li-Ion batteries provide a full charge in 60 minutes plus a 5-minute quick-charging mode, enough for one shave.
THE BRAUN SERIES 7 360 FLEX – A PERFECT COMBINATION OF REFINED CONTROL AND MOVEMENT
Combining breakthrough technology with intuitive design, the new Series 7 uses flexibility and adaptation to enable seamless close contact.
• 360 Flex System: The revolutionary Series 7 features a fully flexible head that responds to the contours of your face and neck, reaching every hair for a smoother shave, using less effort.
• AutoSensing technology: The Series 7 uses Braun AutoSensing technology which automatically adapts to hair density – helping to capture event more hairs in each stroke.
THE BRAUN SERIES 6 – SENSITIVE TO YOUR SKIN
The Series 6 flexes to your skincare needs, meaning you never have to compromise on performance.
• SensoFlex shaving head: The gentle pivoting head and flexible blades of the Series 6 glide effortlessly over the curves of the face, reducing pressure on the skin and creating a sensitive yet close and comfortable shave.
• Skin Heath Alliance: The Series 6 has been given dermatological accreditation from the Skin Heath Alliance, an independent organisation that verifies the safety of products for the skin.
THE BRAUN SERIES 5 – EASY AND DYNAMIC
The Series 5 offers an easy and efficient shave that simplifies your everyday shaving routine.
• EasyClean System: The Series 5 features a built-in rinsing mechanism, allowing water to pass through the rinsing holes in the shaver head, clearing any shaving debris without the need to remove the shaving head.
Joseph DeAcetis: In your words, what are men seeking today in a good shaver and how has Braun developed specialized product to compete with this change?
Ben Wilson: When it comes to their grooming needs, men are looking for tools to make their grooming effortless and that enable the looks they desire. Needs change over time and trends come and go, at Braun we always strive to understand these shifts and ensure that we have the right solutions to offer.
As these needs change, just like the Brothers Braun did in 1955, Braun does research and seeks to understand what is desired and develops products that are designed for what matters. Today, men are grooming in more ways than ever, from a clean-shaven look, to 3-5 day and full beards – with this, the grooming jobs to be done and the challenges for our designers and engineers change. For example, our Series 9 was developed because many men shave during the week but then let their beard grow
from Thursday through Monday morning, where the shaver needs to be able to get through the 3-day weekend growth, lifting and cutting longer hairs. This is an immense challenge that our Series 9 has achieved and is therefore able to carry the tittle “most efficient shaver in the world, torture-tested on 3- 5-day beards”. Every year, we welcome over 30,000 men to our European technical centers to test our products. This way we stay very closely connected to trends and predict the unmet needs of our users.
Another example is the introduction of our Autosensing technology into our Series 7 and styling products. This technology ensures that our shavers and stylers achieve constant and optimal speed, regardless of how much hair is being cut at one time. Just like in 1955, if you understand what people desire and develop against those needs and aspirations, and develop products with a defined Haltung, this leads to happy users and strong business results.
Joseph DeAcetis: Talk to Forbes in detail about the current offerings and why it is important for consumers to be aware of this brand
Ben Wilson: To best answer this, I would very much like to welcome you to our Braun Collection in Germany. Here you will be able to experience the true depth of the meaning of the Braun Haltung and why the world needs to know more about it, today more than ever. Let me try to give you a brief snapshot:
We at Braun design for what matters. This is founded on decades of developing products with a very specific Haltung. The brothers Braun, together with Fritz Eichler and Ulm school, did not simply create a “vision of a better future”; they made a future vision tangible. The vision was “design for millions”. They believed that everyone deserves products that are designed with humans in mind, easy to use, are reduced to what matters most and that are manufactured to stand the test of time. They wanted to reduce design back to the essentials, leaving out the non-essentials, summarised well by Dieter Rams in the early 70 ́s with his idea of “Less, but better”. This is true sustainability, making things that are useful and built to last. This leads to a “keep culture” and is something that the world needs more than ever. The Bauhaus idea of “Less is More” was given a radical new meaning in the context of the oil crisis in the 70 ́sand scarcity of materials. The response to these conditions was that the world and the future requires “Less, but better” things.
Today, all products are developed with human needs in mind, from a tool like our S9 that can shave through 3-5-day beards with ease to those tools that are made to groom body areas… Our intent is to ensure that the needs are not only met, but maybe even create an experience that is surprising from time to time – in just how well they do the job they are intended to do, time and time again. This is Braun.
We aim to keep the promises we make when we enter a market. The return to audio equipment is another great example. The time is right to offer incredible technology, great design and innovative features like the mechanical microphone button. It might sound obviously simple but like most of our innovations it is founded on a deep user insight/need.
Joseph DeAcetis: Talk to Forbes about how computer-aided design helped in the development of your brand: both product make-up and e-commerce? Details please
Ben Wilson: CAD and Digital tools continue to evolve, new AI technologies are already changing the way engineers specify structures and robots are working in factories, buildings, bridges and houses. Product experiences are a combination of hardware and software technology. At Braun, we aim to use technology to enhance the experience in meaningful ways. A good example of this is the IPL device and supporting app, our IPL device is very intelligent, utilizing sensors and computing power, called Senso-Adapt technology, which adapts the light intensity in real time according to the tone of the skin in the area of use, this helps ensure that our users have an effective and safe in-use experience.
Joseph DeAcetis: What are your day-to-day responsibilities?
Ben Wilson: Our Designers at Braun are involved from the first moments of understanding what is needed, all the way through to the manufacturing. This is how it has always been at Braun, a flux between what is needed, design and technology. The day-to-day roles vary from the status of the projects that we lead… I think it is important to mention that the Braun design team is a mix of industrial, graphic and visual identity designers, but they are supported by the multifunctional teams that strive to create the best possible solutions. The team is always focused on keeping their promise, making sure the products are designed, engineered and tested to ensure they stand the test of time.
That being said, the development process can vary depending on whether we are creating a “new-to- the-world idea/technology” or are improving on an existing / established technology. This will affect how long the development process is- it can vary from 12 months to 5 years. Today, personally, much of my time is spent sharing insights like these to help more people around the globe understand why our products are so amazing and should be an essential part of their world.
Joseph DeAcetis: Where is the product made and why?
Ben Wilson: Braun was founded in Frankfurt am Main in Germany in 1921, and our new Series 5, 6 and 7 shaving technology is designed and engineered in Germany. We have a global supply and manufacturing network with Germany not only being a main manufacturing location but also the place where Braun is rooted and where our global design and engineering teams are located. All the knowledge, expertise and decades of experience in creating high quality electrical shaving and hair removal devices resides here.
Joseph DeAcetis: You have the floor: Talk to my viewers about why they should try this brand now? (details)
Ben Wilson: As mentioned, our products deliver top performance, are designed for what really matters to our users, are easy to use and built to last. This way of doing things helps ensure a positive in-use experience over time. To underline why: On a regular basis, I have the pleasure of guiding people through our 100 years of history and sharing stories that led us up to this moment in time. During these tours, I can pick up a hand-driven/powered torch from 1938 from the exhibition and demonstrate its use. That is Braun. Or that a simple Juicer, designed in 1972, is still in production today. One of my favorite questions I ask during my tours is: When the last time an orange changed? User needs can change or not, but when you keep the idea, design and engineering simple and ensure that they last, this is good for all. Good for the users, the planet and it is also good for the business. Make it once, make it right.
Joseph DeAcetis: How do you intend to keep customer’s satisfied
Ben Wilson: Our quality is founded on decades of setting the highest standards. Benjamin Franklin once said, “The Bitterness of Poor Quality Remains Long After the Sweetness of Low Price is Forgotten”. Today, this is something that, thankfully, more and more people are discovering again. The time for things of lesser quality and the “quick sale” are gone. The future generations deserve better, this was the vision that the brothers Braun and the Ulm School had in the 50 ́s: Make better products that people need and ensure they last. Design for millions.
Joseph DeAcetis: Talk to Forbes how Braun intends to play a positive role in the modern era of men’s shaving?
Ben Wilson: By providing tools that do the jobs they are intended to do, keeping our promise of meeting the unmet grooming needs that men have with products that are designed for what matters, simple to use and built to last. It is our commitment to meet men’s current needs and strive to interpret the evolution of those needs in the future.