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.
What a great week. Geno and I traveled to one of the happiest places on the planet and met with our friends at Voce. Definitely same tribe kind of folks. (They were gracious enough to put us up in their condo across the street from their offices. As you can imagine, Geno’s a seriously fun roommate.)
Everyone here is working hard and putting in lots of hours on some really cool projects.
We made the official Brains on Fire book announcement on the blog and response was amazing. We will gather all the responses and make some decisions about who is getting book gallys with the next two weeks. Sound like a plan? I wish I had twenty books for everyone who took the time to answer. Or tweet about it.
Thank you very, very much.
Also, Eric Whitlock has been finalizing the cover art. Which I failed to tell you is a compilation of 17 artists doodles. Sort of a visual representation of a movement. Wiley was kind enough to let us design our own cover since we are very particular about that sort of thing.
AND it’s raining baby boys around here. Megan (or Mama Byrd as we call her now) is expecting a baby boy. So is Justin Gammon. Well, his wife is actually having the baby. And Logan Metcalfe and his wife just welcomed a baby boy into the world last week. I love having babies around the office. So that is going to be big fun.
Okay. So want to play chat pack this week? Come on. This one is easy.
This week’s question:
If you had to change your first name, what would you choose as your new name?
Hmmm. I have always liked my name. It’s one that could be male or female which is always fun. I get a lot of Dear Mr. Phillips email. When I was little I begged my family to change my name to Hope. Go figure. But right now, if I had to change it. I’d go with Frank. OR some set of initials like RL. RL Phillips. Kind of sounds like a race car driver.
Happy Friday. Make it count! And do something unexpected this weekend. Step out of your comfort zone. I have been doing that a lot lately. And it’s life changing.
Now you can name Pontiac’s new sport truck. (It looks like a newer version of the El Camino to me.)
Pontiac is jumping on the user generated content bandwagon and has created a mini-site where folks can suggest names for this ‘bad boy.’ (Their words, not mine.) What do you get in return? Well, bragging rights, and a chance to win one of the new vehicles in late ’09. No, if they chose your name submission you don’t automatically win the car. It looks like that you could submit the most crap-tabulous name and still win ” it’s the luck of the draw.
The thing that gets me about these contests is that you never know if the name they picked was actually submitted by a real person and not created by the ad agency. (In fact, there are rumors that this very thing happened to our hometown baseball team. I’m just sayin’.) But how could it be remedied? A big ‘ol celebration for the person who submitted the chosen name?
There are some new developments at the Brains on Fire lair.
1) Happy new blog! Yes. It was time. So after ” what ” like 2.5 years, we’ve changed the design on the blog. (And we welcome your comments.) You’ll notice a few new things:
a) The FIRE CAM is, indeed, our YouTube videos. Here you’ll find many random things, updated bi-monthly (or hopefully more often), included rants, insights and work that happens around these parts.
b) The PHOTOS are, well, a Flickr gallery of ‘slice of life’ images around Brains on Fire, our outings or just complete randomness. There will be two random images pulled from the Flickr gallery, but you have the option to go to the gallery once you open those pics. Make sense?
c) Yes, you still can customize the blog (scroll down and find it on the right hand bar). But now, along with changing the color to the hyperlinks, it will change the background image as well. Each time you load the blog, the header image will change as well. These are also random images from our lives and the Brains on Fire space.
d) There’s also a handy calendar of when and where Brains on Fire is speaking around the country (and the globe). Be sure and see if we’re coming to a screen near you.
2) You might remember the pro bono work we did for Justice for Children International – the organization united to fight the good fight against child sex trafficking. They have announced their new name and rolled out their new identity: Love146. Be sure and check them out ” and you HAVE to watch the video. (Brains on Fire didn’t do the video or the website.) Well, as a big ol’ unexpected ‘thank you,’ they cashed in all their frequent flier bonus points and got us a foosball table. It rocks. And it’s a great addition to our space.
3) Partner and lead design rockstar, Greg Ramsey (we call him ‘Ram’) got a-hankerin’ for popcorn. So did he go out and get some popcorn to put in the microwave? Yeah, right. He bought a popcorn maker. So if you come by our office in the afternoon and it smells like a carnival, then you know what’s going on.
So consider yourself updated on all the goings on at the Brains on Fire.
P.S. I hate popcorn.
September 24th at Midnight, an apology letter from the Founder of Redux Beverages was posted on www.drinkcocaine.com. In this age of taking ourselves too seriously (healthy cookie monster, anyone?), I would have expected it to be a broad apology, a recall, a name change and something about “our best intentions” and “any harm done.” But instead… it was an apology for outages to their website which had been inundated with more hits than they could possibly have planned for (6.7 million from Sept. 17-23). What is drinkcocaine.com advertising? Well… it’s a road trip’s best friend – an energy drink called Cocaine Energy Drink (yup) that boasts 350% more caffeine (I said 350% more) than Red Bull. If you ever want to blink again, I’d steer clear.
Of course, what’s really great about this story is their marketing spending so far: $37.50. That was what it cost to pay a courier to deliver a case to the offices of The New York Post. The Post took it from there.
Learning lessons from the release of Red Bull – which involved a lot of rumors and speculation and concern over ingredients and such to build anticipation – Cocaine took the controversy a step further and let their name spark the conversation. If ever there were a case for building Buzz into an identity… this would certainly be on the list. It isn’t an example of great WOM based on an authentic community relationship (yet), but just try naming your product Cocaine and NOT being talked about. Of course, they’ll also have a lot to live up to. If you step out with that much daring built into your name, you’d better hope that the rest of your identity and consumer inroads can live up to it. Otherwise, all that buzz can turn on you… FAST.
They’re only available in limited release right now, but you can bet this burst of conversation over the last 2 weeks is going to translate into sales… even if it ends up tasting like shoe polish. But more importantly… will the excitement last?