i'm with the brand

Lacoste logo lace: just a shirt or Campana consumerist commentary?
March 3, 2010, 5:00 pm
Filed under: Advertising & Branding | Tags: , , , , ,

lacoste lace

Brazilian designer duo Fernando and Humberto Campana have been commissioned to design a limited edition collection of Lacoste shirts for men and women. The brothers designed four shirts in all, but the most outrageous and inventive of all are the pieces entitled Alligator Lace, each in a limited edition of 12, which are composed entirely of the French clothier’s iconic embroidered logo. It’s a fascinating display of the mundane and workaday transformed into something exquisitely delicate, an oil-and-water contradiction between brashness and subtlety.

These are clearly statement-making art objects, and although I doubt it was the designers’ intent, they make an interesting commentary on branded objects and our relationships with them. We are human billboards when we don logo-bearing clothing, and both brand and wearer theoretically gain from this display: one exposure, the other cachet. The piece forces us to confront this issue, and challenges our willingness to glibly and eagerly cloak ourselves in a brand’s identity, as if to ask: That’s what we’re really buying ultimately, isn’t it? Why not be honest about it? Where is the virtue in feigned transcendence of the system? And while some branded items are more egregious than others in their logo-smattering, what is Alligator Lace, if not this readily-accepted notion taken to an ironic, satirical extreme? At what point does it become crass, or was it all along? Interesting questions, all.

designboom offers the following information on the shirts’ provenance:

“the shirts have been hand-made by the coopa-roca women’s co-operative in brazil, whose purpose is to provide positive working environments for its members, female residents of rocinha, brazil. improving the quality of life of the craftswomen and their families, the small production force is aimed at developing decorative craftwork productions through the revival of traditional brazilian craft techniques such as drawstring appliqué, crochet, knot work and patchwork.”

It’s intriguing that something so corporate would be crafted using the talents and traditional techniques of local artisans, bridging a cultural and generational gap in such a way as to highlight both the parallelism and disparity between the “traditional” and the modern practice of design and manufacture.

View the rest of the Campanas’ Lacoste collection at designboom.



VYRE presents The Brand Quiz
March 2, 2010, 8:59 pm
Filed under: Advertising & Branding | Tags: ,

The Brand Quiz

How iconic is your brand? How much are you a part of culture? Of our shared visual vocabulary?

Brand asset management firm VYRE put together this fun (and tough!) quiz to show off their proprietary content management platform VYRE Unify, and to highlight the importance of great brand assets. Guess each of the 21 brands  from two colors, a visual clue, and a crpytic phrase. It’s funny that how well you do on the quiz has at least as much to do with how effectively the brands are asserting their identity out in the world as it does with how good a job you’re doing answering the questions.

Good luck, and happy brandspotting!

(Thanks to Blair for the tip!)

Google’s je ne sais quoi and the reinvention of the logo
November 29, 2009, 8:13 am
Filed under: Advertising & Branding | Tags: , , , ,

Recently Sesame Street marked its 40th anniversary, and on a stray whim deciding to search for something from the Google site rather than through my built-in search bar, I was delighted to see Google celebrating the occasion with a Sesame Street-themed logo. A little poking around online showed me a collection of Sesame Street-flavored Google logos the company was using in other countries that day, and I realized what a clever little paradox this themed logo was.

Google seems such a part of the culture that it seems fitting for them to celebrate significant cultural milestones and figures in the way that they do, endearing themselves to users in the process with this bit of on-brand playfulness. Google’s a part of the culture machine, after all–and not just locally, but globally as well: in my little bit of sleuthing, I found that these themed logos are much more common and much broader than what we might see in the US. While some are shown worldwide (like those for Earth Day and the day water was discovered on the moon), many are specific to a given market, tailored to fit the country in which they appear, celebrating local holidays and culturally significant people and events, from the birthday of renowned artist/architect Isamu Noguchi (shown in Japan) to the opening of the Acropolis Museum (shown in Greece.) In all of these themes, Google demonstrates an understanding of the people and culture, of what’s important and exciting at home and the world over–and in so doing, also seems to justify their rightful place in culture.

In the Doodle 4 Google competition, Google even gives users a chance to make the brand their own, mining students around the world for their imaginative twists on the logo, displaying the winning doodles on the Google homepage for a day. This strategy wisely leverages user enthusiasm and creativity, fostering audience participation without relinquishing control, allowing user input while remaining brand-led. Here are some some of China’s 2008 submissions:

But that’s not actually what I came here to talk about.

What really got me thinking was how Google’s distinctive logo could metamorphose so regularly without losing itself. Going through an archive of Google’s holiday and fan-created logos I noticed that in earlier years Google’s themed logos were much more conservative, typically the standard logo with a little nod to the holiday tacked on–a shamrock here, a pilgrim hat there. Typical shy logo-tweaking. But over the years, perhaps emboldened by their hegemony and recognizability, the holiday logos interpreted the Google logo more and more loosely, sometimes dispensing with the traditional logo, font, or color scheme altogether–but still, in a rare feat, I thought, never leaving me in doubt as to Google’s brand: whose logo it was, and what it stood for. And that’s what I found most intriguing, most fascinating–what was it about their brand, and their logo, that it could survive such drastic changes with tone and identity intact? That could strengthen their brand in spite of (perhaps in part because of) a shapeshifting logo? I’m not sure at the moment that I can offer any great theories as to how they did it and how a brand might replicate it, but it’s something that’s been tumbling around in my mind for the last few weeks and I though I’d throw this musing out there. Whatever it might take to accomplish such a coup, however elusive the solution, it sort of gives overprotective brands something to aspire to, doesn’t it?

Due to Google’s logo policy, I’m afraid I can’t post any images as examples here, but you can check out Google’s official holiday logo and fan logo archives here. Definitely worth a look!