Archive for the ‘logos’ Category

The Art Of Preppy Branding

April 24, 2011 - 8:40 am 8 Comments

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For most people, a polo shirt is just a polo shirt. While I don’t entirely disagree with that claim, it is impossible to ignore the innovative and painstakingly consistent branding that top sportswear designers have used to create their special niche in the preppy world. Take four brands: Ralph Lauren, Lacoste, Brooks Brothers, and Vineyard Vines. Each company has had great success with its line, even though some have been around longer than others. To the objective eye, they all manufacture colorful polo shirts with critters on the left breast. However the branding each company develops transmits a specific message to the masses, making each stand out its own way and attract people accordingly.

In honor of polo shirt season, I’m going to bestow some special honors on these four preppy contenders based on their recent branding campaigns.

The Classic Award Goes To…The Pony. Blue-blooded American is the best way to describe Ralph Lauren’s advertisement for BIG PONY, the new men’s fragrance line that’s been popping up in every. single. fashion. magazine. Rekindling the root of what RL the brand was founded on, the iconic ad features four incredibly good-looking polo players. Each fresh-faced male is appealing in his own way, just as each scent offers something different, yet they all look effortlessly classic – like it’s intrinsic to their very being.

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The Chic Award Goes To…The Crocodile. For decades, French brand Lacoste has made its mark with European chic sportswear. As their most recent advertisement illustrates, Lacoste isn’t afraid to be a little quirky while still remaining high-end. The “Unconventional Chic” ad stars model Anja Rubik, sporting a slinky, shimmery evening gown with a simple white polo shirt on top – certainly unusual, but undeniably a blend of luxurious apparel. “We wanted a campaign that was an affirmation of the brand statement as a whole,” said CEO Christophe Chenut. “We’re showing that you can be chic in a different way, not just when you are dressed up for a party or for the office.”

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The Old School Award Goes To…The Golden Fleece. The 2011 Suprima Collection from Brooks Brothers ad campaign is as old as the Greek myth that inspired the logo. Depicting conservatively dressed friends at an outdoor gathering, the atmosphere generated by the ad is undeniably stuffy, appealing to those of traditional values and country club lifestyles. The Brooks Brothers website is of the same caliber, featuring tips on “Proper Etiquette for Golf” and “How to Dress When Attending An Outdoor Event.” Emily Post would undoubtedly approve.

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The Laidback Award Goes To…The Whale. Vineyard Vines is all about the Good Life. Inspired by summers growing up in Martha’s Vineyard, the clothing incorporates colorful patterns of sailboats, beach chairs, crabs, etc…, all evocative of summer’s finest moments. Every catalog contains photos of smiling families, friends, and wedding parties wearing the brand, firmly instilling the feeling that Vineyard Vines brings people together. Instead of using professional models, Vineyard Vines selects college students, sailors, their own employees – anyone who enjoys the Good Life really – to represent the brand in the catalog pages. Each person has a story (and wears Vineyard Vines while telling it). Right now, Vineyard Vines is in the middle of its Spring Tour, road tripping all over the East Coast in this brightly patchworked vehicle.

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The Ups and Downs of Monogrammed Logos

March 10, 2011 - 12:58 pm 4 Comments

You see them on the street. You see them in restaurants. You see them in the coffee line. Bags are everywhere. They are the quintessential, number one tool a woman uses to hold all of her belongings. A woman’s best friend. And in return, their carriers like to keep in good company. Louis Vuitton. Gucci. Chanel. Coach. If you don’t got ‘em, you want ‘em. Which means getting excited over a designer bag street sighting while sizing up the lucky woman carrying the purse you covet.

The biggest enabler of purse envy is the monogrammed logo.

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Take a luxurious bag and slap on the designer’s initials? Before you know it, you’re the woman with the Louis Vuitton. The popular girl with the Coach bag. Without even opening your mouth, the bag says something about you. It says you can afford to spend money on luxury items and you aren’t afraid to flaunt it. The whole point of monogrammed logos is to establish an elite following. Those who spend a ridiculous amount on a purse are rewarded with the prestige that accompanies designer items. Meanwhile the rest of us, wishing we were as fortunate, put these handbags on a pedestal, worshipping them for all they’re worth.

For the vast majority (myself included), the only way we can tell if a bag is designer is by the logos. Getting overly obsessed with the brand name, we’d prefer that feeling of status over the actual quality of the products, themselves. Enter in knockoffs. On the streets of New York City, Rome, and other cities, women purchase knockoff designer bags every day for virtually nothing so that they look like they can afford luxury items. While this is great for those of us who don’t have thousands of dollars to spend on purses, it also means the designers are losing their exclusivity. Now anyone and everyone can look like they’re carrying a Chanel bag and only the truly perceptive can tell the real from the fake.

True Story: A friend of Spada Media’s found a pretty white bag with multi-colored Louis Vuitton monograms all over it. She thought it would be perfect for summer so she bought it.

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A few days later, she was grocery shopping with an overflowing carriage and two tired, complaining children. Clearly in need of a pick-me-up, she stopped at the Dunkin’ Donuts inside the store to get the kids something to eat and a coffee to deal with all of it. When she took out her new pocketbook to pay, the cashier completely freaked out. She started gasping and pointing at the bag. “That’s a Louis Vuitton! Where did you get one? Paris Hilton has that same exact bag! Oh my god, did you pay $10,000 for it like Paris did?” Our friend burst out laughing and said, “If I could afford $10,000 pocketbooks do you really think I’d be at a Stop&Shop on a rainy day with two kids in tow?” The cashier was completely shocked that the bag wasn’t real, but our friend cheered up!

So what are these monogrammed logos doing for designers? The recognizable aesthetics make the bags universally appealing; however, the brand is undoubtedly cheapened due to knockoff sales. It’s a Catch 22, forcing the designers to decide what’s more important to them: exclusivity or popularity.

Starbucks’ Siren Makeover – Hot or Not?

March 1, 2011 - 7:57 am 19 Comments

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In the debate between Starbucks’ old logo and new logo, I pursued a different course of action this week by taking an office poll to determine which logo wins out. As far as the marketing professionals were concerned, the decision was unanimous. Starbucks should not stray from its highly recognizable logo into new territory. Because that’s exactly what this updated logo is. Brand new territory.

“Personally, I never paid any attention to the center of the logo,” Spada’s director of marketing admitted, referring to the wavy-haired mermaid holding her fins beside her. “The center alone is not recognizable enough to stand on its own. Starbucks needs the whole package.” Our account coordinator wholly agreed. “The surrounding brand name gives your eye a place to focus and the siren only completes the logo,” she says. “I’m lost when looking at the new logo. This mermaid means nothing to me without the brand name.”

For the benefit of those who have been hiding under a rock, Starbucks is rebranding its image from a coffee provider to a company without limits. While remaining true to their heritage, which, for reasons unknown to this author, includes a siren, Starbucks has experienced a total of four logo changes in forty years. The logo we all know and love was created in 1992 and features a twin-tailed siren in black and white with encircling text reading “Starbucks Coffee.” Soon, this will be a relic of the past, especially as the new look, coinciding with the company’s 40th anniversary, is so drastically different. Gone is Starbucks’ brand name. Gone is the black and green color contrast. Enter a green mermaid, smiling at you on a Styrofoam cup.

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According to a client who was milling around our office today, the brand name is crucial. Starbucks may be on every street corner in New York City and other such metropolises, but popularity does not eliminate the need for a brand name. “The former logo says, Come visit us, we are Starbucks, and we will serve you a cup of coffee. I’m a simple guy. I want the brand to say what it is,” he explains.

Spada’s CEO and creative extraordinaire understands Starbucks’ ambition in the logo’s alterations, yet thinks they could have taken a different route. “As Starbucks is attempting to market non-coffee products, it is clear why they chose to move forward with the rebranding,” she elaborates. “However, they strayed too far from the brand when, really, they should have worked with what they had but changed the surrounding text.”

As far as I’m concerned? There’s certainly something appealing about the new design’s minimalist and streamlined feel. I can see how Starbucks would find it more “modern.” Yet the green and white design fades into the white background of the coffee cup, creating the impression that it’s missing something. The previous eye-catching logo pops so much in comparison, it’s hard to feel like this is an upgrade.

Loving Literal Logos

February 3, 2011 - 11:56 am 40 Comments

Logos: always the first step to branding and the one that takes the most thought to develop. And with good reason, since the logo acts as a company’s representative, expressing everything from its mission to its culture. This week, I’ve focused my thoughts on logo designs that are visually literal. In other words, they look like what they are. Here are a few of my favorites . . .

Simply There

The Spiced Pear, a restaurant located in The Chanler Hotel in Newport, RI, caters to a high-end crowd and offers an elegant take on New England dishes. The logo itself, a modern etching of a pear, is highlighted with colors pulled from the most vibrant and aromatic spices. It is visually simple to fit the modern elements of the chic restaurant and displays the company’s message right there in front of you – food that plays to your eyes and nose as well as your taste buds.

The Spiced Pear

As Literal As It Gets

Target (or Tar-gée as we devoted shoppers call it) is yet another owner of the literal logo. Not only is this THE place to get any and all needs a household can muster up, but as everyone knows, you’re bound to walk out with some things you don’t need at all. With that being said, the red rings not only match the company name, but reinforce Target’s message better than Walmart, Kmart, or any of their fiercest competitors. This is the one stop you need to hit a bullseye and meet all your needs!


Quirky and Creative

In the Event Planning industry, creativity and extravagance are important capabilities to portray. A Boston firm, whose events for Expect Miracles (formerly known as Mutual Funds Against Cancer) I’ve attended, was not afraid to identify themselves with a name and logo that screams quirky, creative, and capable: Fancy Pants Event Planning. The logo, a funky pair of pants against a harlequin background pattern, speaks for itself and the patterns remind me of linens and drapes which are commonly used in most upscale events.

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