An almost organic shape, a skin that provides some unique functionality and a curious name are three characteristics that mark the Cocoon, a new clamshell 3G mobile phone from O2 launched in the UK in August.

I’ve had one to play with since last week, courtesy of VCCP, O2’s ad agency. (Disclosure details here.)

In my first post about this intriguing gadget, I’m not going to talk about its features (well, a little bit). No comments about making phone calls. Nothing about is it simple and easy to use. None of that yet.

Instead, I’m going to talk about two things that have been in my mind each time I’ve thought about or looked at this phone – design and branding.

If you haven’t seen the phone yet, here’s an idea:


That’s a static view of the animated home page of the Cocoon website. It sets the scene for the overall brand experience that is reflected in everything: packaging, presentation, the website, in-store product displays… indeed, the complete brand experience.

It’s called “A Life Within.”

I was intrigued by this descriptor, primarily as I wanted to find out if there was any substance to it or was it just another bit of marketing babble in a market that’s full of such babble.

First, though, a look at the name. Where did that come from?

The origin of the English word cocoon comes from the French word cocon, which itself originates from the Provençal word coucoun meaning eggshell, according to Ask Oxford, the concise online Oxford English Dictionary.

Indeed, the product code inside the phone includes ‘cocon’ although I expect that’s just coincidental.

Googling on the phrase ‘o2 cocoon a life within’ brought me to The O2 Cocoon: A Life Within, a detailed commentary on the from-scratch thinking and planning behind this experiential descriptor by a designer called Levent Ozler, based in Turkey according to his website bio.

It provides an explanation on why ‘cocoon’ was conceived as the brand name.