Maverick creative thinking shreds marketing nerves

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I’m a huge fan of movie posters and have wittered on endlessly on this blog to anyone who has enough patience to read about my love for them. There are some great and some not so great examples around at the moment and one of the best examples of brilliant creativity in this space  had nothing to do with the actual marketing team, but a street artist.

The dude who goes by the name Poster Boy NYC is known for ‘putting his spin’ on NYC  signage with anti-consumerism, anti-everything satire. What he’s done for a poster of  Hugh Jackman’s latest movie, The Wolverine, however, is a genius work of marketing that should embarrass the studio team assigned to this film for not thinking of it first. The actual poster for the film features the simple image of Wolverine with claws bared. In the his version, however, the posters on either side are made to look as though they have been clawed by Marvel’s hirsute superhero.

It’s a piece of sharp thinking, sure to get the official creative team looking at their shoes and coughing. Sign him up, boys.

When food meets branding

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Right in my sweet spot, this. Two of my favourite obsessions, food and design, coming delightfully together in this post.

An awful lot of people watch the TV series Masterchef and probably don’t give the logo much thought at all, me included. Television programme branding is often just there to support the actual televised content, which to be honest is how it should be. Great design shouldn’t be conspicuous, it should support and allow the real content to shine and this applies across all disciplines.

It’s only when we see the Masterchef design out of its TV context that one comes to appreciate the quality of execution and application across a wide range of items. London-based consultancy The Plant has given the brand a bit of a makeover (nothing too radical) as the brand branches out from its televisual roots into retail, events/ online and publications.

I think they’ve done a very tidy job of it too, from the subtle re-draw of the logo to a nice colour palette and onto a sophisticated colour palette and photographic style. Coming, I’m sure, to a store near us all. Very soon.

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Branded Superheroes

This is an interesting exercise by Italian designer Roberto Vigati Santos.

Take well-known superheroes. Then add global super brands and make the most appropriate connections.

Hey Presto – we get a result that I’m not 100% comfortable with but one that’s probably closer to the real world.

I like the combination on commercial brand prowess and superpowers.

Enjoyable.

 

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Pantone’s colour of the year 2013…

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…is Emerald.

Really?

Pantone do this every year. They pick the most bizarre colour in their vast array of shades to be the upcoming colour of next year. They predict it will dominate the catwalk and be the go-to colour for designers and fashionistas. Except last year’s colour (Tangerine in case you’d forgot) wasn’t exactly the must-have Pantone swatch colour of 2012.

I expect this is more about a hook for the PR company to get the Pantone story out there. After all, I’m writing about it and it’s the kind of story journalists like.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not like I don’t like Emerald but the descriptors that surround the colour above have the accompanying sounds of barrels being scraped. I mean, luminous and universally appealing? Not in Hull it’s not where green is an unlucky colour with the seafaring city. Good job I don’t live in Hull…

 

Ode to the iPod

When the iPod first landed on the scene it absolutely revolutionised music for me.

I’d fallen out with music a little bit – CDs just weren’t my thing, they seemed so soulless. So when a piece of technology arrived that could keep all of my music digitally in one place the size of a fag packet, I was all in.

Of course the technology raced on and subsequent iPods got smaller and thinner whilst their capacity got larger and larger. I can say hand on heart that the iPod and iTunes rekindled my love for music again, allowing me to have every single song in my library (once I’d painstakingly digitised the lot) at my fingertips. I have owned pretty much every generation of the iPod apart from the fiendishly priced original and revelled in the increased capacity of each version and the reduced prices too.

All of my musical consumption revolved around the ipod – I could have every single tune in my pocket when on holiday, I would plug in the Ipod to a dock and play it around the house. I sacked off my perfectly serviceable Denon hifi in favour of a reassuringly expensive Bose sound dock. The iPod drove technological innovation across the board for me and I thought it significant that it had its own section in my music magazine of choice, the now defunct The Word.

But technology marches relentlessly on and just as the iPod vanquished all in its path, progress will in turn kill it off in due course via The Cloud. I have, of course, embraced cloud based technology and all of my music now lives in the cloud so I can stream it all to multiple devices wherever I may be on whatever I like.

But I still love my iPod.

The tunes are physically on there and I like that. Oddly for me, I don’t need to have physical vinyl or discs, but the actual song files I’m quite happy with. I’m not sure if I’m comfortable just yet going 100% streaming, so I’ll be hanging on to my gradually outdated iPod as Apple don’t seem that keen on doing anything with it anymore.

But I think of it as a digital comfort blanket, always to hand, easily plugged in to a device, every tune I own, all in one place.

 

 

Rapha

Brands are interesting, or at least I think so.

As a consumer, our relationship with brands is a complex one: it’s based on a multitude of experiences with a brand – it could be physical, for instance in a shop or it could be an emotional one, seeing a tv commercial. All of those experiences add up to what the brand means to us and I’d guess that most people don’t really think too much about it, we just get on an transact with brands. Or not, as the case may be.

It’s not often then, you encounter a brand so single-minded in what they are doing, it’s breathtaking.

Rapha are one of those brands.

If you’re a cyclist, you’ll know exactly who I’m talking about. If you’re not, you won’t. And that’s because they spend every single waking hour focusing on their customer – hardcore cyclists – what they like, what they want, who they are – you know, all the stuff a lot of businesses don’t do particularly well. I’d go so far to say that if you’re not a cyclist, they actually don’t give a monkeys about you – these guys are seriously focused on their bike riding customers.

Simon Mottram, founder and CEO of Rapha was speaking at an excellent conference I attended this week –  Hull Digital. He is the founder of the business and the Rapha brand we see is essentially him, the embodiment of his values and beliefs. Rapha as a business has grown off the back of  the popularity of cycling and particularly the MAMIL phenomenon (Middle Aged Men In Lycra). Middle aged men with disposable income in wealthy countries have essentially fuelled Rapha’s growth and emergence on to the world stage of cycling, leading to their sponsorship of the world’s best cycling team, Team Sky for whom 2012 Tour de France winner Bradley Wiggins rides.

So they’re doing loads of things right: they love their customers and know them intimately; they are cycling nuts themselves so know what works and what doesn’t; their products are reassuringly expensive and technically the best available and they have a brand with superb provenance (their name comes from an Italian cycling team in the sixties) and a highly sophisticated, perfectly judged visual identity. What’s not to like?

Interestingly I was talking to a young dude who cycles competitively at club level at the conference  and whilst he appreciates the Rapha image and ethos, he claimed he’d be ridiculed at his club if he turned up in head to toe Rapha. It seems there’s a culture of not trying too hard with your image in British club cycling – the tattier the kit, the more kudos it gains you, something coincidentally I’ve experienced first hand playing tennis at club level. It’s almost not the done thing to look the business, which I find bonkers. I imagine there’s no such culture internationally where our more stylish European cousins or monied Americans spending big time on Rapha kit.

I have to admit the geek in me really enjoys the attention to detail lavished on every product Rapha sells from gloves to jerseys to embrocation. They know full well that their customers are complete geeks too and cater for their every branded whim. It’s a joy to behold when not only is the product brilliant but the packaging is just as good too.

Rapha has really set its stall out to own a very specific space in the market and it’s a joy to see a brand at the top of its game. I just hope that they don’t get snapped up by a Nike and lose their independence – a similar thing happened a few years ago with once uber-cool brand Howies who lost their way after acquisition to the corporate world – who have since bought their independence back, tellingly.

My prediction is that Rapha will continue to plough their stylishly unique furrow, independently, for quite some time to come.

Do you buy books in a shop or online?

I love the smell of books.

The paper, the ink, the print finish on the dust jacket, the dust jacket itself even the glue that binds it all together all have a unique aroma that is part and parcel of the book reading experience. So I delight in the sensory experience of buying a physical book in an actual bookshop.

But it’s a hard thing to do these days.

Even in a big city like Leeds there’s only one bookshop of note – Waterstones. The low cost and convenience of Amazon has meant that the book buying experience has been transformed into a remote, transactional act that is all about cost and nothing to do with value. I’ll be honest – I’m partly to blame too. It’s hard to see a book half the price online and not buy it. But I do try where possible to buy my books from Waterstones in Leeds, if they don’t have a book in stock then their ordering service is excellent. Also when I’m in a bookshop, I always buy more than I intended to buy…I can’t resist a well designed cover or an unusual format or a tactile cover.

But Waterstones aren’t going down without a fight.  They’re running a superb awareness campaign right now that’s really caught my eye – it’s an interesting and engaging angle focusing on selling the bookshop and not the contents of the bookshop. Will it make more of us buys books from a shop and not a website?

Take a look and let me know what you think…