As Austere entered our third year in business, we reflected on what we have accomplished, our challenges, and what is yet to come. Here are the things we have learned as we turned THREE.
1. You must be flexible.
When Austere started we went through something that you’d never expect, and you pray we will never experience again; the pandemic. The fact that we survived and thrived was a true testament to hard work and smart decisions and is by far Austere's biggest achievement to date. Never say never to learning and being agile to circumstances.
2. When starting a company, let your “thing” pick you.
At Austere we wanted to stand for something in addition to providing an innovative product with better design. What naturally rose to the surface was the amount of waste produced by the consumer technology industry and what we could do about it.
We decided to be the technology manufacturer at the forefront of this issue. We have thought about what materials to use as we develop products that are environmentally safe and we redesigned the instore displays (from plastic to wood and metal) to ensure longer use at retail. We also redesigned the typical packaging for home theater accessories from plastic to paper.
According to Health Magazine’s April 2022 issue, paper, accounting for 14% of total trash generation, has the highest recycling rate of all packaging materials at 81%.
We saw a problem to solve in our industry that we were passionate about, that has now become a brand pillar and a major focus in every part of our business. We learned that when starting a company, let some things pick you. It won’t happen overnight; you will need to be patient. But as your company grows you will see what aligns with your brand and your mission.
3. Having a design mission is critical when building a brand.
The best products and brands have design as a core philosophy. Customers want goods to match the style of their homes. They don’t want to have gorgeous appliances, furniture, etc. and ruin it with unsightly plastic accessories.
Here are some of the questions we asked ourselves, and examples of how we approached our design mission:
- Is the feature we are placing in the product what the customer wants and if so, does the placement or functionality of the product meet their needs?
Austere Power has SmartFit outlets, spread-out plugs to fit multiple devices easily. We also looked at the placement of the USB ports and compared it to where the cables will be plugged in and out. This simple adjustment helps avoid tangled cables, makes them easier to reach, and allows the longest length possible from the unit.
- Would the look of the product fit in someone’s well-designed and curated home versus standing out?
We compared metal vs. plastic and custom finishes vs. plain. We also considered the thinness of the product to fit well behind the TV, furniture, and between the connectors themselves.
- Do the materials also help to provide a better use case experience for the customer?
An example of this is with our Clean & Protect cloth. Everyone does microfiber, we decided an a dual-textured microfiber and polish side for a better cleaning experience and foam core for better structure. This allows for a streak-free clean every time.
- Are we differentiated from the competition?
We always want to elevate the customer experience. One way we did this was with the redesign of our Austere Clean & Protect. The product now allows for more mL at the same price and offers a grip for better usage. We also upgraded the sprayer so your solution comes out in a mist, avoiding dripping down your screen for a better overall clean. These features place us as the best Clean & Protect product on the market.
When it comes to packaging, the design mission is just as critical.
We wanted a simple and well-designed way to communicate all features and benefits to the customer while also acting as an education piece. This led us to use icons on the spines of our packaging, for a clean and functional experience.
We work diligently over each angle of the product on the package, so the customer understands what they are buying. We use lifestyle images to show where the product can be used and most recently we added QR codes to give our customers more resources at their fingertips.
We have had an amazing three years so far and we are excited for many more to come!
*If your electronics are no longer usable, we recommend dropping them off at an electronics collection site for proper disposal. You can use the Consumer Technology Association's Recycle Locator to find a drop-off location near you. If you have electronics that are still usable, donating them to an organization, program, or charity that you support, is a great way to prolong their life.