In 2019, shortly after opening a Boston office, Tactile connected with with Keurig, original single-serve brewer and coffee-pod manufacturing company. What began as a small color, materials, and finish (CMF) project has since blossomed into an ongoing, trusted partnership. With a dedicated CMF team,
we offer our expertise in all aspects of CMF development–trend research, strategy, concept visualization, and sample refinement–to create a well balanced blend of design and functionality in many of Keurig’s products.
Often our first step in the CMF development process revolves around researching and understanding current and future trends. Our research spans global consumer attitudes to specific shades of color in niche design sectors. This lays a foundation for CMF decisions and ensures products will resonate with
buyers and sellers while still being relevant by the time they hit shelves. Utilizing several trusted trend forecasting resources, our team has provided Keurig with comprehensive trend reports tailored in a way that provides clear direction and adheres to brand guidelines.
Our team typically begins researching trends at the macro level. What are the major events impacting the world? How are they affecting consumer attitudes? Asking these questions puts us in the right frame of mind to understand the drivers behind more specific trend spaces, such as home interiors, appliances, or electronics. After identifying trends within a particular space, we dive deeper into the relevant CMF trends found within them.
Having a CMF strategy is especially useful for larger brands like Keurig that may offer several dozen SKUs. They are necessary for creating long term aesthetic consistency, targeting specific user groups, and communicating value steps across product lines. We worked closely with Keurig to align CMF development with the company’s long-term product and brand strategy. This involved defining clear design
objectives and ensuring that CMF choices supported Keurig’s brand narrative. In mapping out these strategies for Keurig, we explored variations in color shade, color placement, material, and surface treatment. Additionally, we defined strategies to prevent production challenges and visually disorganized product lines that can take years to amend.
Since we began our partnership with Keurig, we’ve helped to redefine their color strategy. Rooted in the ongoing trend of monochromatic color application, we introduced a new tonal color approach to Keurig brewers. Traditionally confined to silver, touchpoints and features are now being highlighted through subtle tonal color shifts, with colored metallics also being introduced to expand the perceived value range.
In Keurig’s previous neutral color space, existing grays were tinted with warm and cool undertones, making it difficult to form tonal relationships. Tactile helped to create a tonally compatible white to black range by introducing new pure neutrals and repositioning
some existing shades. The new palette was created in a way that allows shades to be used in more than one pairing; the lighter shade in one relationship and the darker shade in another.
Visualization and Refinement
To help our proposals come to life, we’ve generated thousands of product renderings and visuals for Keurig over the years. It is our goal to create informative and beautiful renderings that accurately communicate CMF intent. That said, we know it takes
much more than a beautiful rendering to make that intent a reality. Our team works with local and international suppliers to help develop color targets, facilitate appearance models, and refine production parts and finishes to be as accurate as possible.
Design for CMF
A good design is one thing, but captivating CMF can be the defining element that makes your product stand out among the noise. This is why we encourage designers to consider CMF from the start of the design process: a) Plan out part break locations in a way that allows for CMF opportunities, both aesthetic and functional, b) Consider the use of textures and patterns that might require slightly larger draft angles, and c) Design with CMF flexibility in mind.
The partnership between Keurig and Tactile exemplifies how CMF development can be a driving force in transforming a brand’s image and product portfolio. Through trend research, strategic alignment, creative visualization, and meticulous sample refinement, we breathed new life into Keurig’s design language and ultimately, helped to continue to brew success in the ever-evolving world of coffee.