Here are some definitions and concepts that can be used to understand how products and services can be differentiated:
- An attribute is used to describe the characteristics or properties of something.
- A feature is often described as a prominent attribute.
- A function is what something does.
- Form is the external experience or shape.
- Design involves all the above.
- Meaning involves all the above plus the relationship of the product or service to emotional and psychosocial needs.
A very simple way to view all the above is that features, function, form, design, and meaning are all attributes, with different levels of information about a product. Consider the SuperDuper smartphone in Figure 7.1. The SuperDuper phone has a keypad (attribute, feature, function, and form), with lighted square keys (attribute, feature, and form), and a high color indestructible screen (attribute, feature, and form) with a black onyx color and coarse texture (attributes, features, and form), which can be used for calling and texting (attributes, features and functions), listening to stereo music (attribute, feature, and function), and locating friends within 1 mile (attribute, feature and function). This smart and futuristic SuperDuper phone (attribute and overall design) creates feelings of connectedness, comfort, and security (attributes and meanings).