Teenage Engineering is one of my favorite brands. They started out in audio, released a line of highly regarded bags, and recently launched a field desk.
But that’s only part of the reason why I like this brand so much. The other reason is because their offering is so diversified that they’ve become a great example of why brands don’t need to have categories anymore.
Let’s take a look…
Watch my TikTok short on Teenage Engineering below, or scroll to read the expanded version now:
Who Are Teenage Engineering?
Teenage Engineering is a Swedish company that manufactures consumer electronics out of Stockholm. The company was founded in 2005 by Jesper Kouthoofd, David Eriksson, Jens Rudberg and David Möllerstedt.
Musicians who use products built by Teenage Engineering include Beck, Depeche Mode, and Jean Michel Jarre.
What Products Do Teenage Engineering Create?
The brand’s products include electronics and synthesizers, with products that include the OP-1 synthesizer, instant cameras, and a range of field equipment and apparel.
The most mainstream product from this brand is probably this Off-White collaboration on a speaker:
Teenage Engineering have made a name for themselves inside the music community with just an incredibly aesthetic and functional set of synthesizers that honestly, I would put on my desk just because it looks sick.
They’ve also branched into high quality home audio with amazing-looking form factors… but what I think is really interesting is the fact they play across so many categories. For instance, this is just a steel casing for you to be able to build your own computers inside.
They’ve taken a strategic approach – which I think is most similar to Apple – where design is the connecting piece between all these categories, whether its the bags…
their audio products…
or now, this desk…
which isn’t just a desk. This is basically a system with which things connect and interact. This is the basis of the functional ability to proliferate this design across probably a larger line of furniture than just the desk in the future.
Who Does Teenage Engineering Collaborate With?
2012 – 2014: Collaboration with the Stig Carlsson Foundation to develop the OD-11 speaker, a faithful reproduction of Swedish designer Stig Carlsson’s 1974 minimalistically designed aesthetics.
2013: Collaboration with Swedish clothing company Cheap Monday to create a set of work uniforms.
2015: Collaboration with Cheap Monday again, this time to design the Pocket Operator (PO-10) synthesizer series, which includes three models:
- PO-12 rhythm, a drum machine
- PO-14 sub, a bass synthesizer
- and PO-16 factory, a lead synthesizer.
Each model also doubles as a 16-step sequencer.
The series was so popular that shipments were delayed by up to three months.
2016: Another Cheap Monday collaboration, the PO-20 series of the Pocket Operators.
2017: Yet another Cheap Monday collaboration, the PO-30 series includes a drum synthesizer collaboration with MicroTonic, a sampler, and a voice synthesizer. PO-30 devices also feature a microphone.
2018: An IKEA collaboration of audio equipment products, Frekvens.
2019: A Panic collaboration that produced Playdate, a new handheld video game console. The device’s mechanical crank design is specifically credited to Teenage Engineering.
2021: A partnership with British-based tech company, Nothing. Among the brand’s design aesthetics on their products, Teenage Engineering worked on Nothing’s first commercialized product, the “ear “.
Top Tips for Creator Brands Like Teenage Engineering
Teenage Engineering’s strategy should really resonate for creators and people who start their own brands because often, you feel like you’re locked into a category.
In reality, its the through-lines of your business, what you believe in and what you care about, and how that applies across your community and the categories you operate in that’s going to set you apart from your competitors.
But as you build your brand or begin thinking about what the future of your brand looks like, don’t limit yourself to categories. Instead, think about what the through-lines are that will connect everything you make over the next decade.
Don’t limit your thinking by boxing what you’re capable of putting out.
Catch the Builders.Build podcast with my best friends, Colin and James, to discover more about our individual TikTok perspectives and entrepreneurial journeys across brands, products, websites, and more.
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