The term “white label” generally refers to goods that are not distributed and sold under the label of their actual manufacturer, but as products by a different, independent company.
Written by Philipp Brunner
A Service Design Experience with a Brandable Skin
Blank CDs, DVDs, and Blue Ray discs are classic examples of white-label products: Numerous electronic retailers and supermarket chains offer their own branded blank discs and yet the actual manufacturer can only be identified using the digital product code.
Speaking of CDs: the term “white label” actually comes from the world of vinyl records and DJ culture. Before the public release of new records, copies without any labelling were often sent to DJs and radio stations for promotional purposes. White labels quickly became a familiar expression in the scene: popular DJs used actual white labels to cover the real record labels as not to reveal their musical sources to their competitors.
White label design in the digital world
The strategy of white labelling has widely been taken up in the digital sphere as well. Here, the term refers to digital products and services whose design can be adapted to specific branding requirements to a certain extent.
The product’s technical infrastructure, functional scope and features are typically defined by the white label company and thus cannot be adapted in most cases.
The perception as an independent product of the integrated brand is an essential characteristic of a digital white label solution. Ideally end-users do not recognise any connection to the product’s actual underlying provider.
Outsourcing all technical expenses and maintenance tasks is one of the key arguments for a digital white labelling solution.
What are the benefits of white labelling?
Digital white labelling is all about economic considerations: a variety of reasons for potential savings and synergies speak in favour of white label solutions, both from the perspective of providers as well as licensees.
Benefits for white label providers:
- Multiple distribution of a single product development
- Creating client relationships for permanent support and maintenance
- Ongoing product development for the benefit of all existing partners/licensees
- Potential for a transaction-based business model in addition to licensing and maintenance
- Scalability of services enables targeting of multiple different groups
Benefits for partners (licensees) using a white label solution:
- Very short time to market
- Substantially lower costs of implementation than an in-house development
- Outsourcing of technical implementation and maintenance works
- Use of approved and tested process, transaction and interaction design
- Immediate benefits from continuous further development of the product
- High availability and fail safety
- Scalability of functionality and branding options allows tailored solutions for different budgets and requirements
All these requirements should be met by a proper white label solution.
Apart from that, what could be a unique selling feature of a product that is mainly characterised by adaptability and generic design?
Digital design minus visual design equals experience design
What is our approach (as an agency dealing with design) towards the design of white label solutions? Since the very nature of a white label product lies in its lack of a unique visual design, questions arise concerning the actual range of creative possibilities.
What remains from “digital design” when the factor “visual design” is being subtracted?
The answer lies in Experience Design: A solid, approved and effective user experience and a set of functionalities, need to be the central selling propositions for products with generic and adaptable visual design.
- Uniform interaction design: How does the system respond to user actions?
- Fixed process and transaction design: How does the system deal with processes and transactions?
- System status and user option information: How does the system communicate to its users?
- Technical service: system availability and performance
- Customisation services: extensibility and adaptability
- Support and individual customisation
These design parameters enable the transformation of a seemingly generic product into a unique and convincing digital service for both licensing partners as well as end-customers.
Functionality with approved and tested interaction and transaction design as well as comprehensive focus on service are at the core of successful white label solutions.
Parameterisation of design aspects
The actual design work for a digital white label solution should only start after a detailed analysis of the (potential) target group’s needs and the resulting definition of functional requirements.
The quest for the “lowest common denominator” is at the outset of the process: Defining those visual design elements, that make up the product and its design identity.
In this case the “lowest common denominator” consisted of a list of very basic and essential design assets for the yet to be developed white label system. The huge number of potential licensing partners with different branding requirements, scalability of design and branding options were a core aspect for the conceptual development.
A style guide of sorts for all design assets with detailed design parameters is the outcome at the end of the process, answering questions about which parameters are set unchangeably and which elements can be adjusted to meet individual brand and design requirements.
In every case, a unique and fixed Experience Design marks the foundation of the white label system.
White label design know-how by dmcgroup
dmcgroup is an agency network for corporate design and digital communication. Founded in 1992, we have broad knowledge and experience in conception, design and technical development of white label solutions.
One of our white label solutions was the White Label design for a mobile app framework for partner societies of Springer Science+Business Media, as well as the conceptual groundwork and strategic positioning for a future white label web solution of our client Allianz.