What, in your opinion does the word ‘brand’ mean?
Hmm tough one! A brand cannot be defined easily, it represents too much, in fact it is everything that presents a product, experience, service or organisation to us. It’s a first impression, a lasting relationship, a story & a feeling that makes a brand. We choose certain companies because they resonate with us, we aspire to be a part of their group & what they’re offering, or we trust that they will help us to solve our problems & improve our life.
A brand will mean something different to each and every one of us, because we all experience it in a unique way dependent on factors like, who we are, what we do, & where we are in the world. There will be key traits that unify a brands’ varied audience, such as shared interests, values & goals, but they will be at varying stages of commitment to said brand from one another.
A successful brand will effortlessly connect with a wide audience, adding greater meaning or security to their life, while simultaneously creating a bond built on trust & loyalty, adapting & growing constantly with the times.
Ultimately, we’re all looking for something or someone to help us with our life ventures, to share experiences with one another & to help others in doing the same, which is the part brands play. So, if you ask me, the word brand means belonging to a group or number of groups that have helped you to be you. Think of them as sidekicks and you’re the hero in the quest that is your story.
Ideal project or industry sector to work in & why?
The dream for me would be a project for positive change within the energy industry, thinking about the future & sustainable living. As we all know global warming is a serious threat & needs action now, so I’d love to be a part of impacting that change. A project that focuses on how everyone in their day-to-day lives can help this global crisis, whether that’s being mindful of where you’re shopping, what you’re buying, how you travel from A to B or how you’re running your home – we can all do our bit.
Last year Boris Johnson announced the bringing forward of banning fossil fuel vehicle production and sales to 2030, & so it goes without saying that a brand on everyone’s radar at the moment is Tesla. The electric car manufacturer had a phenomenal year in 2020, with a better one predicted this year. Their stunning, slick branding & website is modern, technical & informative of the companies’ achievements, showcasing not only the car models, the Roadster & new Cyber Truck, but also Solar Roofing & Powerwall home batteries, successfully tapping into the sustainable lifestyle. And while this shift to electrical vehicles is good, there has been arguments that these efforts are not enough & that the act of replacing current models with new electric ones has its own environmental impact.
This being said, I’d hope to see a focus on sustainable public transport options, including rail & bus services, as well as more support for cyclists & walkers. I think a fascinating project that has to be mentioned when discussing sustainable living, is NEOM’s utopian society. The $500 billion mega city build is part of Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030, which aims to see the new country become an investment hub, connecting Asia, Europe & Africa. Details of the disruptive infrastructure promises to revolutionise urban living, proving how people & the planet can co-exist in harmony. Carless cities, AI automated transport & zero-carbon homes are just some of the ways the project pledges to tackle conversations around pollution, traffic, & human congestion, transforming the concept of the conventional city into a futuristic modern solution.
Although it all sounds idealistic, there has been several causes for concern surrounding the movement & its human rights issues, with reports covering the expulsion of tribe’s people from their homes & one fatality. So, although their website & promo video is almost dreamlike, and poses to answer all the questions to a better future, it’s sounding more & more like the next script for Black Mirror. Conversationally interesting, watch this space.
What has caught your eye in world of branding recently?
I’ve been eagerly awaiting to see the Gucci X The North Face collaboration that was teased on social media back in September 2020. I’m obsessed with Alessandro Michele’s idiosyncratic sense of vintage style that he’s injected into the Italian fashion house & have been excited to see how his iconic design has been adapted to work alongside the outdoor adventure brand.
The name of the collaboration ‘The Spirit of Discovery’ is explained by The North Face to ‘explore the deeper parallels between the two brands in equipping those who seek adventure, challenging the status quo and quests for self-expression’.
With the use of earthy warm tones, retro florals & monogram prints throughout the line-up, what seems to be uniting the collection is the influence of 70s fashion. A clear focal for Michele’s rein over Gucci with The North Face bringing back their original designs & silhouettes from the same decade.
This is a great example of two very different brands successfully benefiting from a collaboration by expanding their markets, for Gucci, a more attainable collection for the masses that’s been adapted for everyday wear & for The North Face a sense of belonging to a more elite, luxury identity.
Some of my favourite collabs to date...
Moncler X Genius
The ongoing Moncler Genius project ‘One house, different voices. Eight collections. Twelve design partners.’ My favourite has to be Richard Quinn’s. I just love the futuristic forms mixed with bold 60s florals, the collaboration has such a stunning theatrical presence exploding with colours & patterns that both clash and complement each other.
IKEA X Off-White
The highly anticipated & still sought after ‘MARKERAD’ homeware collection from Swedish Megastore IKEA X Off-White’s creative direction Virgil Abloh. The demand alone around this collab is worth mentioning, as IKEA set up the comfiest queuing system featuring sofas, armchairs, blankets & cushions for lucky ticket holders to sit on while they waited for entry into one of two stores supplying the collection.
Studio Feixen X Nike
Playfully energetic poster & typography collaboration of Studio Feixen X Nike. The activewear brand bought out two concepts with the graphic designer: ‘Hyperdunk’ & ‘Bring you Game campaign’ as well as tshirt designs under Nike for big names such as Lebron James & Kevin Durant.
Louis Vuitton X Takashi Murakami
The 13-year long collaboration between luxury fashion house Louis Vuitton X Japanese contemporary artist Takashi Murakami. From 2003 & the launch of the inaugural Multicolore Monogram collection & the ‘it bag’ of the aughties, he arguably created a design as popular, if not more than Louis Vuitton’s signature brown monogram. My favourite collaborative outcome though, has to be a video piece called ‘Superflat First Love’ by Murakami that feels like a sort of Animie psychedelic trip.
Looking to the future
As we know the current health & economic crisis has impacted all of our lives in a drastic way. With the limits of tier restrictions & national lockdowns, the way we connect with one another, with businesses & services has had to completely change. We haven’t been able to interact face to face with clients or customers, visit stores, share offices or even meet in our friends & families’ homes, so how we are communicating & building or maintaining meaningful relationships is really important for both our business & personal needs.
We’re turning to brands who are offering us a sense of support, understanding, hope & a better future – it’s a time for companies to respond resiliently, rethinking & restructuring their business proposition to meet new needs & desires. Stagnant brands that fail to evolve in our ever-changing world risk being lost & forgotten; to stay in the game you’ve got to keep up, be agile & open-minded.
Whether Covid-19 has opened up opportunities for you, or paused them, we have all undergone a transformation to adjust to a new world, bringing with it a new way of living & working.
So, reflect, be thankful for the good & improve. Build around or redesign the bad. Life will return to normal, but my hope is for a new normal, entering it with a different perspective & appreciation for each other, the world around us & our existence. You could say we’re all undergoing our own rebrand. This is an exciting time – what are you offering the new world that is upon us?