“It’s New Orleans. You’re Different Here.” Or are you? How does one ‘brand’ a place that has just been devastated? Where does it even start? Does the process of design or visual communication even matter at this scale of suffering? To the people of New Orleans–who depend on tourism after major economic shifts in the 50s and 70s–it does.
After the physical devastation of Hurricane Katrina, the ensuing media maelstrom resulted in a tarnish settling over the image of the South’s multi-faceted and multi-cultured gem. So the problem is then very specifically a branding one. The people of New Orleans and Louisiana would take care of the physical space. Peter Mayer Advertising would help handle the image with a multi-faceted campaign explained in part here.
Though this is not a full look at the incredible body of work Peter Mayer produced for its city it brings to mind some intriguing questions about the role branding places in defining place, or redefining it. Commercial art has not ever been shy about its role in manufacturing image. When combined with the discipline of design and the psychology of Peter Mayer’s public relations team, the city of New Orleans was beneficiary to a positive aspect of branding. A real physical city with real and tangible and hurting people needed real help to bring the tourism dollars back.
I have heard arguments on the impossibility of branding something as public and multi-variabled as a modern city. In this case, we see undeniable evidence of success. Though we in America will forever remember the travesty of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, some songs ultimately go unsung when things are being rebuilt. In this case, New Orleans is still standing and probably stronger than ever. The city’s people are survivors. The campaign to keep the economy going through tourism dollars was not only a success in branding, but also a shining example of the benefits of commercial art in our society.
I was privy to a lecture fully explaining this body of work through my local Pensacola Bay Area Advertising Federation. Though I understand the ethical implications of generating this type of work for something as ephemeral as a city and its people, it was an incredible experience to witness firsthand the effect the work could have. The potential for art and creative thinking to influence people around the world into visiting a specific region is no small task. It was a pleasure to more fully empathize with the reasoning behind attempting such a task, but also in grasping that ‘re-building’ a city is not always about plywood and nails. Our cities are complex. Keeping them going often requires complex systems of communication and influence that have a global reach. Who better to attempt this mammoth task than a local and passionate agency with Peter Mayer?
Follow their work here. They’ve grown with their city. What type of relationship do you have with yours?
Though not part of a specific nation’s branding, per se, the product contains a nation’s name and therefore, relates to not just a fantastic product and brand, but also adds to and communicates with the nation. What’s good for the candles is also good for the nation. Thank you, Richard Baird for your wizard post. Follow him here.
Candles of New Zealand is a family run business established in 2008 by Nicola & Steven Farrant and based in the Bay of Plenty. In preparation for the Auckland gift fair, design agency Family Design Co. redesigned their brand and packaging propositions to better reflect the company’s vision and to create a diverse but unified collection and visually characterising the handcrafted, traditionally produced and high quality aspects of the products.
Pictures say 1000 words, especially when they move and sing.
Go to their YouTube Channel to immerse yourself in the experience of New Zealand and the work created. Something to keep in mind is not only the word New Zealand, but also the sophisticated and subtle use of the island as a punctuation mark in the 100% Pure New Zealand marque. The island chain becames an inescapable piece of the brand pie and is even seen in Somo’s distinctive Tourism Export Council marque. Though it doesn’t have the same brand power and punch as the 100% Pure New Zealand campaign, the form of the islands are too bold to ignore when working for anything tourist related.
Stay tuned for more New Zealand and after, more locational branding.
These lively and quiet, but illustrative forms were designed to express the nature of the people of Thailand and their waterside lifestyle. The color palette simply uses three organic qualities of the physical environment that flow through the blood and daily lives of the Thai people. All these forms and their animations seem to trickle around the idea of more than just a place and grow into the idea of a people. The Na’vi in Avatar come to mind with their deep-rooted connections to nature and their very real physical and spiritual world.
The baseline of the typeface references the water, a surface to travel upon and live life within. The glyphs are the Thai people themselves, above the water, but in constant interaction with its surface. Each glyph and its corresponding motion design brings the form and lifestyle of the Thai people into a pleasing resolution. Even the layperson, ignorant of the meaning and subtlety of the beautiful Thai letter forms can appreciate their fluidity and grace as they move. Though the two-dimensional representation of these aspects of Thailand may have been enough, the animation takes the project to another communicative level, increasing our understanding gently, almost musically. The third dimension comes with ease and in turn, increases our grasp of a specific meaning and a unique people.
It was cogent of Ekawit to bring the Latin forms into this project for the student of design, but something else also happens here. We are confronted with the beauty and simplicity of letters as they are literally. These Latin forms in relation and contrast to the Thai again become ‘pictures.’ We see the primal hieroglyphs. We see language being formed in situ.
Nowadays, we read so much. Our current culture is incredibly inundated with the forms words take that we forget how they were formed. We forget the process. Ekawit’s rendering of this ‘new alphabet’ confronts us with the exotic while simultaneously bringing us into the familiar.
Ekawit’s sketches show a thoughtful process as well as potential for motion. The intimate breakdown of form and geometry is in step with his endgame. Ekawit’s studies and the final work highlight both a region and its beautiful people through letter form, but also bring into high definition the patient and time-consuming practice of the intensely intimate discipline of typography.
Please visit Ekawit’s site on Behance for the videos showing the animations of these beautiful type forms.
Transforming the ‘brand’ of a city might be something we’re not used to here in the States, but we are currently living in a global world. Every four years, at the Olympics we see excellent examples of some of the most in-depth and sophisticated systems of branding as seen very recently in London. Designboom covers it in-depth here and lists most of the major players. Design Boom’s post.
The logo, like or dislike, is instantly recognizable. The color palette is more relative to an age and a time then a specific city or place. It captures a spirit, a human energy seen every four years, no matter the region. And it uses the visual and typographic language of the region to express that energy, in context for the world to see.
The simplicity of the typeface and its playful, bold energy works with the mark as well as the extensive and elaborate pictogram system. No impact is lost and the message is delivered uniformly without losing its punch. But the Olympics in London is perhaps one of the most visible examples of a new form of branding taking place constantly around the world.
My next few posts will highlight some exceptional examples of what I see as a new form, but what is already a valuable part of the rich visual cultures seen around the world. Though some of the work is a few years old now, the concepts are still fresh. Through the strategy of branding and visual thinking and forms of graphic design, we will see branding of a place and a space.
I don’t want much. I don’t want a large space. I don’t want to fill that space with junk. I do not want 14 cars or gold-plated teeth. I don’t care for white picket fences or even guest bedrooms. A fold-out sofa or a well-made futon will do just fine for my friends and visiting family, thank you.
I do want to work. I want to do exciting work. I want a fulfilling environment with laughter and intrigue and attention to detail. I want a city full of life and energy being exchanged on a daily basis. I want to be compensated fairly for my efforts and my energies. I want a designed life with an emphasis on staying current. I want to read. I want to always learn.
I want fulfilling relationships based on open and honest communication. I want love. I want to play where I work and work where I play. I want to eat well. On occasion, I want to drink well and feel good about feeling honest when the drink gets to me. I want to learn about other faiths. I want to experience them, practice what they preach. I want to walk and swim and sleep. I want to grow things. I want to provide an environment for my children that is better than the one I had as a child. I don’t want them to worry about their education, but pursue it. I want to travel. I want them to travel. I want to learn new languages. I want to live where they are spoken.
I want to walk across the Outback. I want to see Everest, climb some of it. I want to swim in all the world’s oceans, trudge through the Amazon, lay in the hot sands of the Sahara. I want to see people samba in Carnivale in Rio. I want to see the Olympics. I want to see the Big Wheel Race and make one to compete.
I want to write to paint to design to breathe to love to eat to sleep. I want to live. I want to live well according to the ethics of me and my loved ones. I want to share. I want to speak and to listen. I have wants too. Though my wants seem simple. I want stories.
“I find it wholesome to be alone the greater part of the time. To be in company, even with the best, is soon wearisome and dissipating. I love to be alone. I never found the companion that was so companionable as solitude. We are for the most part more lonely when we go abroad among men than when we stay in our chambers. A man thinking or working is always alone, let him be where he will. Solitude is not measured by the miles of space that intervene between a man and his fellows. The really diligent student in one of the crowded hives of Cambridge College is as solitary as a dervis* in the desert. The farmer can work alone in the field or the woods all day, hoeing or chopping, and not feel lonesome, because he is employed; but when he comes home at night he cannot sit down in a room alone, at the mercy of his thoughts, but must be where he can ‘see the folks,’ and recreate, and as he thinks remunerate, himself for his day’s solitude; and hence he wonders how the student can sit alone in the house all night and most of the day without ennui and ‘the blues;’ but he does not realize that the student, though in the house, is still at work in his field, and chopping in his woods, as the farmer in his, and in turn seeks the same recreation and society that the later does, though it may be a more condensed form of it.
Society is commonly too cheap. We meet at very short intervals, not having had time to acquire any new value for each other. We meet at meals three times a day, and give each other a new taste of that old musty cheese that we are. We have had to agree on a certain set of rules, called etiquette and politeness, to make this frequent meeting tolerable and that we need not come to open war. We meet at the post-office, and at the sociable, and about the fireside ever night; we live thick and are in each other’s way, and stumble over one another, and I think that we thus lose some respect for one another. Certainly less frequency would suffice for all important and hearty communications. Consider the girls in a factory,–never alone, hardly in their dreams. It would be better if there were but one inhabitant to a square mile, as where I live. The value of a man is not in his skin, that we should touch him.”
There is a reason I’ve read this book so many times. I wonder if part of the modern condition is that we are all afraid to be alone. Even here in the great wilderness of the American South, we seek this constant interaction. Perhaps each and every interaction we have is a part of this greater fear of not having more interaction, like social junkies. At least in the South, we drive further for ours…