Hessian – Brand For Sale


So I saw this little nugget pop up early last week, and my first reaction was… that’s cool. Then when I started really thinking about it, I completely shifted gears.

Hessian is a brand for sale–that is, a brand that represents no business or product. The designer, Ben Pieratt, hopes to sell the Hessian brand for $18,000. That includes 30 hours of design time, the URL, twitter handle, identity that’s already been designed, and a whole list of other odds and ends you can find here. The buyer will then apply it to their restaurant, start up, clothing label, etc. 


Visually, the design and execution are pretty cool. I like the flying “h” through space effect; it weirdly reminds me of the flying toaster screen savers from the mid-90’s. That’s not a bad thing, it’s just what popped into my head. I must say, if I saw this identity emblazoned across a storefront or wrapped on a vehicle, I’d be intrigued. If I walked into the store and it was a nail salon, however, I’d be disappointed. 

Ben mentions in his blog post about Hessian “… it seems to me that in today’s connected environment, there’s no reason designers shouldn’t be able to create designed product packages, and then sell them to entrepreneurs.” I think he is correct when it comes to maybe graphical elements such as icons, or heck, even customizable website templates, but branding? I can’t help but imagine that this type of thinking will turn the identity and branding process into something more along the lines of getting a tattoo. You walk into the store, flip through the book, and say “I want one that’s similar to this”. Now, you can always get a super duper custom one-of-a-kind tattoo, but that will cost extra.

This idea, albeit interesting, completely misses the point – in my opinion – of what branding and identity is. I may be proven completely wrong, and these guys may have invented the next big business model for identity designers. However, in my world (and BOF’s world), branding and identity begin with the client, or more specifically, the business. We have to ask what or who we are creating an identity for. How should that person or business be portrayed to the rest of the world? What are the fundamental values of that business, and how can those be incorporated into a brand mark? The list goes on. 

Anyway, I don’t mean to sound cranky, I’d love to hear what you guys have to say. I also promise to do a follow up if this thing sells.

Happy Friday!



Nathan Spainhour Nathan Spainhour is a Designer + Interactive Director at Brains on Fire. Meet him here.
  • paul

    I agree with you Nathan. It’s like buying a brand/identity off the shelf at your local store or something. While it “could” really fit someone’s product or business, it’s more likely that such a model would mean ending up with a number of companies/products with “cool” brands, but no connectivity between the brand and the product/company itself. It’s also probably such a company would then be tailoring their true identity to “fit” with the brand they bought. In the long run such an off-the-shelf brand will do more harm than good for a company.

    • http://www.stringshot.com natespain

      Totally with you @d75e289c18593885449ef2090e8008f8:disqus. Thanks for the insight!

  • http://twitter.com/chadhartman Chad Hartman

    I like the idea, if someone is starting a bike shop or clothing store, this may be a good way to begin creating a ‘look’, but let’s not fool ourselves, this is a logo, this is an idea, this is not a brand or an identity. A brand evokes feeling, a brand gives you butterflies, a brand makes you smile, because it has delivered something personal. I like the idea and the creative look, but feel nothing …. yet

  • Sticky ricky

    The design is great but would see myself creating a restaurant around the brand instead of creating a restaurant and then build the brand. Its like booking a 2 week hiking trip to the himalayas and getting someone to wear in your new hiking boots. Sure they might be soft and fit reasonably well but they will never really feel like they were moulded to fit you and the longer you wear those boots the more obvious it becomes. A brand should be moulded around a business so there is no distinction between the 2. As for the price. For 18000 I will create a brand, build a site, design a menu and wear in your hiking boots.A new term might be appropriate. faceless franchise

  • Jessica

    If you like this type of stuff, you might find these guys interesting. They ONLY build ready-made brands. EvilHeadquarters.com