From zombie brand to objects of desire.


A traditionally ‘analog’ brand needed to find a way to connect with, and actually mean something to a whole new digital generation.



Conducted rigorous global research and designed a line of products that mined TDK’s history and connected it to today’s digital audiophiles.



Ziba’s brand strategy and design influenced an entire decade of TDK Life on Record audio products. Immediately adopted into mainstream indie-rock and hip-hop culture when among others, American rapper, Snoop Dogg featured the 3-Speaker Boombox in their music videos.



User Research, Consumer Insights & Trends, Brand Strategy, Product Design, Engineering, Front End Innovation



TDK dominated the magnetic storage market in the 1980’s with audio cassette tapes that set the standard for quality and fidelity.

But in 2007, TDK licensed its brand to Imation and shifted to an OEM-based strategy, placing their brand on everything from ear buds to thumb drives. The brand had become incoherent to the modern music listener.

When Imation approached Ziba, ostensibly to help with a rebranding effort, our research revealed a larger problem. TDK had an identity crisis. While they continued to enjoy strong brand awareness even among people too young to remember the mixtape culture of the 80’s and 90’s, the products themselves had all but disappeared.

The solution to creating a cohesive TDK identity came down to a single truth: stay true to your heritage. Build on a beloved existing brand without being nostalgic or retro. So, we focused our energy on young urban men who embrace both the analog of decades past and the digital of today. We visited these music lovers in their homes and favorite hangouts in some of the most music-obsessed cities in the world including Tokyo, Berlin, San Francisco and Manchester, the cradle of the UK rave and modern pop scenes. They collect vinyl and MP3’s with equal devotion. They are committed to fidelity and performance but value discovery and the community that comes with social listening even more. They love the convenience of digital music and the ease of sharing, but miss the warmth and social nature of cassettes and records.


All this learning led to the creation of a line of audio devices including a high-performance turntable, two and three-speaker boomboxes to reintroduce the joy of social listening and stereo headphones to make solo listening immersive in ways earbuds can’t. The response was nothing short of ear shattering. CNet senior editor Donald Bell concluded his online review of the Three Speaker Boombox with: “They had to pry this thing out of my hands. My apologies to TDK. They shouldn’t have had to see me cry like that.” Gizmodo’s reaction was more succinct: “TDK Three Speaker Boombox: Oh. Hell. Yes.” Beyond these early hits, Ziba’s brand strategy and design influenced an entire decade of TDK Life on Record audio products.