Sound Technologies, formerly Sound-Eklin, based in Carlsbad, CA, is the global veterinary imaging leader and a division of VCA, Inc. (NASDAQ: WOOF). Sound has competitors large and small nipping at its heels. Because the challengers are so numerous, they were gaining market share despite the fact that their products consist primarily of linked, off-the-shelf components manufactured by others.
Sound’s headquarters and warehouses where 70 employees worked were largely destroyed in the wildfires that hit San Diego County in May 2014, marking a clear line of demarcation between a successful past and what overnight became an uncertain future.
Given management’s urgent desire to rebound from this tough situation and restore employee morale, the success of the first product to be introduced under the new company name was doubly important. This product was a revolutionary next-generation version of its industry-leading portable equine X-ray system for use by traveling veterinarians.
MindFlow Design was engaged to handle the design research, industrial design and engineering. At the start, the client readily accepted MindFlow Design’s suggestion that the product should strive to reposition the market leader as an innovator while serving as the template for an extended family of future products. Essentially, MindFlow Design’s role was expanded to developing an entirely new brand language for the company.
Sound’s internal product development team came to the project with strong assumptions about what veterinarians wanted. MindFlow Design’s researchers put these assumptions to the test by creating low-fidelity concept prototypes for use by veterinarians who met the team in a barn. Veterinarians integrated the mock-ups into their normal work routines with horses in moderated one-on-one test sessions. Tests disproved the initial assumptions.
These observations educated MindFlow Design’s development team on veterinarian workflows and ergonomic needs, enabling them to come forth with fresh hypotheses. Then it was back to the barn to have vets test mock-ups of three very different configuration concepts.
The favorite configuration represented an industry first. Previously, vets had to kneel and hunch over a display screen on a dirty barn floor. Now they could interact with the system and clients while standing. Even more important, they could make real-time diagnoses at the point of care, share the results with their horse owner clients immediately, and prescribe medicine or even perform medical procedures without any need for a return visit.
MindFlow Design’s efforts led to creation of the NEXT Equine Digital Radiography system, a breakthrough for the industry.
Fast forward to its all-critical launch at a trade show in December, barely a week after the company’s announcement of its new name. A MindFlow Design team leader was invited to educate salespeople and interact with potential clients on the show floor. By the end of the trade show, Sound sold 65 percent more units than anticipated.
The results speak for themselves, assuring Sound continued dominance in the veterinary digital imaging market. Best of all, with MindFlow Design’s assistance Sound now has a new visual brand identity that it can leverage to accomplish future business success.