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7.1 Features, Attributes, Form, Design, Function, and Meaning are Interrelated Concepts

Here are some definitions and concepts that can be used to understand how products and services can be differentiated:

  • An attributeUsed to describe the characteristics or properties of something. is used to describe the characteristics or properties of something.
  • A featureOften described as a prominent attribute. is often described as a prominent attribute.
  • A functionWhat something does. is what something does.
  • FormThe external experience or shape. is the external experience or shape.
  • DesignFor products and services, involves its attributes, features, functions, and forms. involves all the above.
  • MeaningFor products and services, involves its attributes, features, functions, forms, design, and the relationship of the product or service to emotional and psychosocial needs. involves all the above plus the relationship of the product or service to emotional and psychosocial needs.

Figure 7.1 SuperDuper Smartphone

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 "SuperDuper Smartphone". 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).