As award season flourishes and 2015 is now well under way, the BrandMusings blog takes a look back some of the finer branding details that captivated my attention in 2014. Some of these may seem a little obscure, but good brand design is about creating subliminal impact with the smallest of details executed thoroughly.
Best Brand Identity:
You'll definitely know if you've seen hair stylist to the celebrities Tara Smith's range of hair products on a shelf because of the wildy colourful tropical birds which stare out from the product packaging. In this respect I adore this brand identity becuase it is positioned so far from the overly scientific brands (the likes of Loreal or Garnier) or the overtly naturalistic brands (like Neils Vinyard).
And this positioning is key - the main feature of the Tara's entire range of hair care products is that they are strictly vegan. But instead of adhering to the usual "eco-clichéd" creative brand strategy (earthy tones, green leaves..) inspiration was sourced from a different part of nature, in vibrant tropical birds. The use of different coloured birds in the identity works so well because it 'shrieks' individuality; aside from the main element of grooming, are we not purchasing beauty products to help us express our own individuality?
The entire Tara Smith brand image is cohesive and above all honest. The logo and brand name is simply "Tara Smith", wiht the clever strapline "Tested on celebrities, not animals". The website is easily navigable, colourful and emblazoned with macros of beautiful feathers. The "In a Nutshell" section should be mandatory for all brands. A well deserved winner of Best Brand Identity 2015.
Crabtree & Evellyn West Indian Lime Shave Soap
This simple, elegant Crabtree & Evellyn packaging caught my eye because of its beautiful synthesis of old and new. The product, shave soap, is by all purposes a very traditional product perhaps appealing to a more niche market demographic. However the up-tempo packaging is sure to broaden appeal of the range, with its masculine grey and acid green tones, the mix of modern sans serif font and the line drawing of the sail boat and the palms adding a touch of history.
Best Product Branding:
The White Company Bed Linen
Once packaging is removed, maintaining a brand identity on a product can be slightly more difficult, especially when consumers prefer some products remain "brand neutral" - not everyone would want bed linen emblazoned with a logo. Instead of allowing its product to get lost in the airing cupboard, The White Company chose to add it's logo subtly on the buttons of its bed linen. I like this idea, every time the user removes or fits the bed linen, the White Company brand is present with each button fastening.
Soul To Keep (Pitchfork feature on How to Dress Well)
Web design is so often how we first encounter brands, artists or just about anything these days. With the slow demise of Flash based sites there was a time not too long ago when no animation and simplistic, large type was favoured, leading to a pretty bland experience. With the onset of HTML 5 that beauty, simplicity and some dynamic architecture is beginning to return and this was best exemplified in Pitchfork's feature on artist Tom Krell, aka How to Dress Well.
The feature discussed his then new album, "What is Heart?", and with the simple scroll down you are immersed in moving and still images, spots of light, blur and focus and beautiful typography. If this is the future of web design, I definitely like where it is heading.
Best Brand Touch Point:
Molton Brown Reed Diffuser Instructions
The business of selling any fragrance is highly emotional, the actual product only detectable to one of our most evocative senses. Molton Brown, no stranger to this concept, chose to play on the sense of emotion and theatrics with the short and concise instructions that accompany their aroma reeds diffusers. Users are invited to “set the scene”, “start the show” and “enjoy the performance”. Best copy for any form of user manual? I think so.
As can be seen here the biggest branding impacts can often be found in the smallest details.
Which of these do you find the most effective? What other stand out branding ideas have you come across and loved? Let me know in the comments below.