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I would like to ask you about a problem I’m facing very often at the end of a corporate-design process.

After all corporate-design elements are approved, I usually go on with proposing some interesting branding-applications (folders, pen, office stuff) which suit well to the branding-concept.

For this purpose I could google for branding mockups, but the weird thing about mockups is, that these products do not exist. Mockups are detached from the real product. I could pick a nice pen mockup I found online, that looks quite convincing with the logo on it, but if the client says “Yeah! This is a nice pen, I want that” I’m screwed. This pen doesn’t exist. It’s just a mockup.

And it’s not just pens, its actually every branding mockup product without unified proportions.

Isn’t this weird? How do you handle this?

How do you solve this problem that mockups are detached from real products?

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This is the classic problem with high fidelity prototypes. In this case, all you have to do is to use a low fidelity prototype.

In UX, we use sketchy-style wireframes for that. You can easily apply the idea to your work.

enter image description here

I used a cleanly drawn pen here because I couldn't find a free example in a different style on the quick, but I suggest that you actually use something which feels sketchier, like the drawings from here.

You may not expect that much difference, but I can tell you that clients react very differently to high fidelity and low fidelity prototypes. No matter how much you try to tell them that the high fidelity version does not exist, their gut tells them that they can have it, exactly like that one. But when faced with low fidelity, they automatically understand that there will be differences in the finished product.

  • 2
    this is excellent advice. It's similar to using Greek text and/or coloring placeholder copy magenta or cyan or some other improbable color. Don't show the client something they can't have. Make it clear that what you're showing them is an idea — not even a proof of concept. – Lauren Ipsum Aug 18 '16 at 19:26
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    Well, the point is, that it is actually possible to have a very fidelity prototype for printing material such as a pen. All you need is the logo you already have and a mockup of a pen that exists in reality. I think the comparison isn’t quite well. For webdesign prototypes you are not able to show a fidelity prototype, since the product isn’t finished and you don’t want to spend so much work on a prototype. Branding-items do not need a lot of design-thinking. Its just picking a product that fits and applying a design concept that has been already approved. – herrvorragend Aug 18 '16 at 20:44
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    @herrvorragend that's the point though, don't mockup something you can't follow through on. If you can make a high fidelity mockup of something you can deliver on then great, otherwise you're just setting up unrealistic expectations. If you are going to mockup products you can't deliver then you need to make it very clear that you can't. – Cai Aug 19 '16 at 8:13
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If you do several mockups I would encourage you to pair up with your local printer house or a company that does sell the product and you could work on a mockup around what they offer. Some print houses I've had experience with will even sell to you wholesale or offer a commission when your client reaches out to them. There are several online shops that come and go but I would encourage you to pair up with your local printshop that prints them in-house.

One thing you didn't mention that should be noted is look out for quality. I've paired with some print shops that sourced terrible products that were meant as giveaways compared to quality products that were meant as a memorable representation of the business.

Also, this same branding can and does apply to apparel. So to answer you question "How do you solve this problem that mockups are detached from real products?" I work with the company that sells that real product and develop a mockup template.

  • Can you explain the downvote? – DᴀʀᴛʜVᴀᴅᴇʀ Aug 19 '16 at 12:30
  • I think this is the best solution. I used to work for a screen printing company, we used to make mockups like what you're talking about all the time. You could probably pretty easily get images of blank items and even templates indicating imprint areas, so your mockups will be as accurate as possible (this stuff might even be available on their website). If you send enough business their way they may even do the mockups for you for free. – wing-it Aug 19 '16 at 12:31

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