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LINDSAY BAZOS REBRANDING BRANDING GRADUATE DESIGN THESIS 2009


Lindsay Bazos | Graduate Design Thesis

REBRANDING BRANDING Introduction

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Inspiration

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Brand Context

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Shifting Perspective

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Intuitions

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Supporting Text & Endnotes

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Lindsay Bazos | Graduate Design Thesis

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INTRODUCTION In 2007 Sao Paulo’s populist right-wing mayor, Gilberto Kassab, banned outdoor advertising in the name of what he called “visual pollution,” his first move in a larger Clean City Law initiative that included measures to fight water, sound and air pollution. Sao Paulo’s council president said “What we are aiming for is a complete change of culture. Yes, some people are going to have to pay the price, but things were out of hand and the population has made it clear that it wants this.”[1] Eight thousand billboards, among other advertising surfaces such as busses and taxis, were stripped of their brand messages, many of which had been illegally placed. In the short term, the removal left the city feeling empty. The blank billboards and effaced building walls, as well as the abandonment of emotionally-loaded brand imagery, provoked feelings of isolation and focused eyes on beautification issues in the city that were before overlooked because of the dominant presence of brand communication. But more recently, the conversations about Sao Paulo have been more positive. In a 2008 Adweek article IDEO’s CCO, Paul Bennett, talked about a colleague who visited the city and had described its public space as a canvas on which “Everyone is talking, everywhere.”[2] There are art installations in the sewers, and graffiti dressing what was before just a reminder of removed advertisements. Also, businesses are finding new ways to identify themselves, as companies such as Dolce & Gabbana and Citibank are painting their buildings bright colors and patterns to make their brands recognizable. The removal of transcendent brand messages and the rediscovery of tangible, undefined space has invited people to occupy their city visually. It has also required brands and the agencies they work with to rethink the way they inhabit space and communicate with the public. This Sao Paulo story led me to my thesis topic. Upon hearing what the mayor had done, I started thinking about design as a process of removal rather than a process of adding. How might one use removal or absences to create “empty” space on which personal narratives can be applied? How might one design open visual frameworks in which systems of identity and control are explicitly shared amongst makers and users? And how might one design in a way that invites meaning to be self-assigned? Ultimately, these questions supply intention and focus to my design practice. In my thesis work, these questions drive my exploration in Rebranding Branding.

The general thrust of branding points to creating dense, fabricated narratives that often prey on the emotional sentiments of “consumers” rather than explain and support the actual products and services they are designed for. Rob Walker, New York Times columnist and author of Buying In: The Secret Dialogue Between What We Buy and Who We Are, describes the domino effect of positioning products and services in this way. He says “The more narrow the range of actual differences in commodity attributes, the more important it becomes to create a different kind of value - one that transcends the merely material. This is the goal of branding.”[3] My thesis argues that this goal of transcendence is often dishonest and shuts people out of the opportunity to contribute to the construction of brand narratives. As I will discuss, transcendent brand experiences only allow our passive participation and leave us clinging to emotional brand values that generally lack connection to the tangible products and services that we buy. Brands need to reconsider how they display meaning and value. Display means to show, exhibit and make visible. And yet it also means to reveal and open out. The word’s primary meaning, to show and exhibit, usually overshadows its potent secondary meaning in the world of brand communication. My interest is in the secondary meaning – to reveal and open out. That said, in my thesis I explore how abstracting, subverting and breaking down brand messages influences those brands’ ability to open up and share control over their experiences. I also break down and rebuild a brand strategy model and a brand design process that is used in the industry to construct brand experiences. The intention of doing this is to reveal more tangible, yet still inspiring, modes of branding.

experience In the course of the last two decades, experience has become the engine of consumer society. Within the new experience economy, two design attitudes have developed that address experience in a totally opposite manner: closed (highly defined) and open (undefined) specificity. Out of these two pos-itions, the first presents to deliver unique experiences, whereas the second actually does provoke unpredictable and thus per defi-nition one-of-a-kind reactions. - Jaakko van ‘t Spijker, Studio Sputnik


Lindsay Bazos | Graduate Design Thesis

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INSPIRATION The inspiration for my thesis is three-fold, although no one inspiration area can be separated from another. They feed each other. But, for clarity’s sake, I’ll highlight each of the areas individually. My Background Firstly, my professional background is in brand identity and package design. I have four years of experience turning seemingly undifferentiated products into brand experiences. I understand the power of images and the designer’s ability to load persuasive, emotive meaning into brand images and experiences. Through the brand images on its package, I very well might be able to make you care about bottled tap water and believe in it for reasons unrelated to what it is and what it does. Acquiring such a skill initiated my desire to find more responsible and inspiring ways to use the power of branding and images. Soon after, I found myself in graduate school dealing with my curiosities. Spectacle Secondly, because a large part of my past career in branding involved value engineering and designing transcendent entertainment into the display of packaged objects as basic as detergent, I am interested in the history and theory related to spectacle and consumerism. In the following chapter, I will briefly cover this topic as I talk about important historical markers that I’ve identified for this project. Nihilism and Design And thirdly, I am attracted to nihilistic approaches to design - thinking about breakdown or anarchy to establish new meaning or new approaches. What was before an interest that I could not name was made clear to me when I heard multi-media designer Liz Diller of Diller Scofidio + Renfro talk about some of her firm’s work as acts of “Productive Nihilism.” In her 2007 TED talk titled “Architecture Is A Special Effects Machine,” Diller describes a collection of their work as being “in the service of creating a particular special effect, and that is something like ‘nothing’ or something ‘next to nothing.’ It’s done through a form of subtraction, or obstruction or interference in a world that we normally sleepwalk through.” The first project Diller highlights is Blur

Building, an exposition pavilion designed for a national Swiss exhibition in 2002. Blur Building was nihilistic in that it was decidedly low definition. So, rather than follow the trend in exposition design in which emergent technologies are used to feed our appetite for stimulation and spectacle, Blur Building used emergent technologies to create a mass of fog with “as little definable architecture as possible.” There was nothing to see but your dependence on vision. Sensory deprivation was intended to stimulate sensory heightening. The act of seeing was the spectacular experience. Because it broke down traditional modes of thematic entertainment and created an atmosphere of “nothingness,” Blur Building invited the meaning of the experience to be constructed personally by those in it. An example of the effect of the “no meaning” building was that it was unexpectedly coined as the national Swiss icon of doubt.[4] A DS+R project that was not covered during Liz Diller’s talk but that I would also consider productive nihilism is Bad Press - Dissident Ironing (1993). As DS+R states on their website, the project scrutinizes ironing as one of many household tasks still governed by motion economy principles designed by efficiency engineers at the turn of the century. DS+R explored ways to free the domestic task from the aesthetics of efficiency. White shirts were ironed and folded in new and interesting ways. This is essentially an “unbranding” of cultural behavior. It is the introduction of a new identity system for the white-collared shirt that invites personal modes of making meaning. What was before a normal behavior is now being presented as a new behavior with seemingly endless opportunities for projecting individuality. I find nihilism, complete with its associations of anarchy, rejection and emptying out, inspiring in its ability to shift cognitive frameworks, present opportunities for individuality and demand reassignment and/or reconsideration of values. And while DS+R’s work might be stronger in concept form than when it is realized, the nihilistic intentions behind the work excites and motivates me. I’ve noticed that using nihilism as a framework for design can be seen as distracting, as the word often connects our minds to terrorist acts that


Lindsay Bazos | Graduate Design Thesis

Inspiration

cause uncomfortable chaos and death. But if we can also recognize positive outcomes of nihilism and think of it as a platform for liberation and individuality, it becomes a vehicle for creativity. Stanford’s Encyclopedia of Philosophy discusses German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche’s positive perspective on nihilism. Encouraged by the cultural situation in nineteenth century Europe, which included growing interest in natural sciences and Darwinism, Nietzsche considered the consequences of the death of God and the system of control that religion provided to communities of people. He imagined a scenario in which people realized that life has no intrinsic meaning and he identified a positive outcome of such a realization. The encyclopedia states Nietzsche’s thought process: “For a ‘strong’ or creative individual, nihilism presents a liberating opportunity to take responsibility for meaning, to exercise creativity by ‘transvaluing’ her values, establishing a new ‘order of rank’... Nietzsche imagined such a person as the ‘overman,’ one who teaches the meaning of the earth and has no need for otherworldly supports for the values he embodies... Nietzsche has understood that nihilism is the ultimate meaning of the moral point of view, its life-denying essence, and he reconfigures the moral idea of autonomy so as to release the lifeaffirming potential within it.”[5]

Outdoor Advertising Ban - Clean City Law, Sao Paulo, 2007

I am intrigued by the notion of design strategies that create open frameworks for the ‘open man’ in which ‘transvaluing’ and the reshuffling of ‘rank’ is encouraged. In the context of brand strategy and communication, creating such platforms for personal narratives is a new idea that I believe should be absorbed and applied. TO NOTE: I recognize that this is not a new idea for the design industry at large, especially in the realm of interaction design. Brenda Laurel, CCA’s Graduate Design program’s chair and a pioneer in the design of interactive narratives, often talks about the popularity of narrative play – its ability to engage personal creativity at all ages. She uses the term ‘projective construction’ to describe this kind of flexible narrative framework used in interaction design, particularly in the context of gaming.

Sao Paulo’s mayor, Gilberto Kassab, saw visual pollution as the first order of business when putting the Clean City Law into effect. The voids created by the ban encouraged people to consider their past relationships with the advertisements. What was before a saturated and desensitizing environment became a very open, noticeable place that provoked new issues and ideas.

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Lindsay Bazos | Graduate Design Thesis

Inspiration

Blur Building by Diller + Scofidio, 2002

Bad Press - Dissident Ironing by Diller + Scofidio, 1993

This is an exposition pavilion for a Swiss expo designed by Diller + Scofidio. Liz Diller points to this project as a rejection of the use of emergent technology in exposition design to feed our insatiable appetites for visual stimulation and spectacle. In this space, there’s nothing to see but your dependence on vision.

This project scrutinizes ironing as one of the many household tasks still governed by motion economy principles designed by efficiency engineers at the turn of the century. Here, Diller and Scofidio explore ways to free the task from the aesthetics of efficiency. This is essentially an “unbranding” of cultural behavior.

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Lindsay Bazos | Graduate Design Thesis

BRAND CONTEXT The Industrial Revolution During the Industrial Revolution (of the late eighteenth and nineteenth century) centralized factories were established, creating a need for the people behind sold goods to build trust in their non-local products. Companies had to find ways to declare differences between their near identical commodities on shelf. This became a critical aspect of business, which led companies to focus on the engineering of product values that transcended the material in order to create difference, as noted in the Rob Walker quote I used in my introduction.

spectacle Since the spectacle exists in silence, there is no dialogue – only the frame of the pitchman or the barker... There is an absolute separation between the tableau-like silence of the freak’s display and the initial metacommentary of the pitch. This separation is poignantly felt by the viewers as a hesitation: the pause before the curtain closes or before the viewer walks on. - Susan Stewart, On Longing

The Great Exhibition of 1851 The stunning material display in the Great Exhibition of 1851 in Hyde Park, London is an important event that resulted from the shifts in consumerism during the Industrial Revolution. The exhibition marked a key moment in the evolution of the relationship between crafted experience and consumerism, as it was intended to encourage the design and production of things. Excitement and spectacle were integral to the experience of the two miles of displayed objects within the Crystal Palace at the Great Exhibition. The elaborate display introduced products in connection with values of entertainment and leisure, an association that was previously unimaginable. This reframing of the dynamic between things and people helped to dissolve hierarchies that had structured the relationship in the past. Because of the overwhelming quantity of goods, visitors were guided through the aisles by way of designed “villages,” historical “styles” and themed collections to make the exhibits comprehensible. Products were encased in thematic experiences. In The Value of Things, authors Neil Cummings and Marysia Lewandowska describe the intentions behind the exhibition: “The driving force behind the exhibition was Henry Cole, a commissioner for the Society of Arts, who since 1846 had organized annual product displays intended to educate consumer taste.”[6] The Great Exhibition of 1851 inspired a scattered series of similar international celebrations that continued to emphasize the value of transcendent entertainment in direct relation to commodities.


Lindsay Bazos | Graduate Design Thesis

Brand Context

Transcendent Experiences This developing commodity culture inspired theorists to discuss the affect of entertainment-based cultural relationships with commodities. Canadian communications theorist Marshall McLuhan highlighted the relevance of this dynamic in his 1967 book, The Medium is the Massage. “Any understanding of social and cultural change is impossible without the knowledge of the way media work as environments.”[7] French cultural theorist Jean Baudrillard elaborated on this critical focus in his 1985 book, Simulacra and Simulation, which discusses (among other things) the cultural response to visually and emotionally dense advertising displayed in public space. “Advertising is the first manifestation of an uninterrupted thread of signs, like ticker tape, each isolated in its inertia. Disaffected, but saturated. Desensitized, but ready to crack. It is in such a universe that what Virilio calls the aesthetic of disappearance gathers strength.”[8] In her 1993 book titled On Longing: Narratives of the Miniature, the Gigantic, the Souvenir, the Collection, American poet and critic Susan Stewart contemplates the power shift in such transformational brand and advertising environments. “With the creation of fictive worlds that are removed in time and space from the context of situation, an increasing distance is placed between the producer and consumer, and the symmetry of conversational reciprocity is replaced by the specialized values of performer and spectator.”[9]

into millions of niche communities. In the past, manipulating emotionally loaded cultural information was understood to be a surefire way to make connections with a “target group.” This model is no longer relevant or justified, nor does it usually fall in the category of “doing honest business.”

“Brand” and “advertising” are not under scrutiny in these critics’ or my work. Rather, what is under scrutiny is the form that brands and advertising have taken since the Industrial Revolution – the way they are constructed, the way they communicate and the environments of performance and passive engagement that result from their form.

All of this is not to say that technologies make people “too smart” for the emotion-driven brand and marketing tactics that currently dominate. The problem isn’t that the current mode of branding doesn’t work. The problem is that it does work, very well. And while most people think they are not affected by brand persuasion, an endless number of studies prove its power in purchase decisions. Coca-Cola versus Pepsi is a classic example. In Rob Walker’s Buying In, he revisits an experiment on brand persuasion conducted by scientists at the Baylor College of Medicine. The first portion of the experiment was a blind taste test. From a purely functional standpoint, Coke and Pepsi weren’t viewed as different. The second portion of the experiment involved cultural information – brand information. The participants were given one brand-labeled drink and one unlabeled drink. In all cases, the branded drinks competed against their unbranded selves. The result was that

“Consumer” Culture Because technology has increasingly influenced everything from the way we communicate to the way we manage hierarchies in our political and social lives, the person-as-spectator or person-as-consumer or person-as-target approach to brand development and marketing is now an issue of critical reflection. Moral issues aside, profiling groups of people is harder than ever before as social media continues to enable people to control and congregate

Brand experience is currently termed in the industry as the means by which the brand is created in the mind of the stakeholder. But how much work should brands do to etch their experiences on the mind? And, more importantly, how much work should be left up to the intelligence and creativity of the mind? In an April 2008 Advertising Age article that covered the 2009 Ad Age Digital Conference, Unilever’s Chief Marketing Officer, Simon Clift, was noted as saying that the customer is now able to hijack brand communication and that the brand is “definitely behind the consumer” right now. Ad Age pulled out “five new rules” for marketing based on Simon Clift’s talk at the conference. Of the five, the first is most telling of the branding industry’s approach to business. “#1.... The consumer is not a moron, she’s the person defining your brand.” The fact that “consumer is not a moron” is positioned as a new idea implies that, up until now, branding and marketing efforts have been operating under the impression that “consumers” are morons. The “hijacking” tools that new technologies continue to offer people have only recently started a “People are intelligent. Trust that.” conversation. [10]

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Lindsay Bazos | Graduate Design Thesis

labeled Pepsi tied in the taste test against its unlabeled self. Coke, however, dominated its unlabeled self. That said, it seemed that the Coke brand – functional product attributes aside – embodied something culturally and emotionally valuable that people liked and that Pepsi didn’t have. Deciding between Coke and Pepsi seemed to be deciding which idea to consume, not which liquid to consume. [11] The soda story stands to highlight the power of brand persuasion in taking meaning and perceived value far beyond tangible product attributes. I am attempting to bring brand meaning and value back to tangible attributes, and away from transcendent emotional experiences. I think there is great potential for transparent, tangible experiences to inspire delightful engagement.

images The spectacle is not a collection of images; rather it is a social relationship between people that is mediated by images. - Guy Debord, The Society of the Spectacle


Lindsay Bazos | Graduate Design Thesis

Brand Context

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Branding was storytelling inspired by attitudes and aspirations associated with the brand’s declared lifestyle. The brand’s main goal was to communicate its emotional value. The brand created full experiences that guided people’s identity aspirations.

Branding is storytelling inspired by the tangible qualities of the objects or system the brand supports. The brand’s main goal is to communicate its source and function. The brand creates flexible experiences that allow for attitudes, aspirations and identities to be decided and projected by those who engage it.

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Brand Context

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SHIFTING PERSPECTIVE My thesis exploration and resulting shift in perspective began with a series of hypotheses and studies relating to the authoritative nature of brand communication on packaged commodities. I used gum and soda brand packaging as the point of brand contact to explore alternative modes of communication and discover my own intentions. The use of these branded products over other options was initially arbitrary, aside from the fact that I had recently designed a “Gum Almanac” as part of an independent study in typography. After selecting and working with the gum and soda in my explorations, I realized that brand serves a very specific and important role in the perception of these products. In both cases, the food product is trivial in terms of nutritional value. From an ingredients standpoint, the competing products are essentially the same. Therefore, a gum or soda brand’s point of difference is largely based on emotional connections with transcendent images. The value of these products rests heavily on the associative cultural cues and experience of the brands that support them. Through the packaging explorations, I discovered the reasoning behind my desire to turn branding on its head. I then used those insights to revisit brand strategy models that guide brand identity development projects. This section explains both my packaging explorations and the resultant rebranding of the branding process.

seeing Perception has to do with the interaction between the perceiver and the world external to him. The appropriate domain for the logic of seeing is cognitive, not objectivist. Cognitive models allow us to make sense of a wide variety of semantic phenomena. - George Lakoff, Don’t Think of an Elephant


packaging studies


Lindsay Bazos | Graduate Design Thesis

ABSTRACTING THE BRAND Hypothesis Abstraction invites the invention of personal stories because meaning is unclear or undefined. Findings The value of the brands I have used – Trident and Orbit – are already etched in the mind of the person who comes in contact with them. In this case, abstraction isn’t successful in opening up interpretation as much as it is successful in asking you to reassemble the concrete brand image in your mind. The dictatorial narrative of the brand is not necessarily made flexible here. Rather, that quality seems to be reinforced because the abstraction essentially asks you to remember the brand image “as it should be.” Opportunities The idea of a brand that is designed from scratch to operate as an abstracted image, a constant blur with little directed meaning, continues to intrigue me. I believe that abstraction, used by designers as a strategy to create new brands that are not yet supported by marketing campaigns, just might produce flexible narratives in the way I originally intended.

Shifting Perspective: Packaging Studies

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Lindsay Bazos | Graduate Design Thesis

RESHUFFLING BRAND IMAGES Hypothesis Disorganization is used as a tool to disorient the brand’s implied meaning for those interacting with it. My hypothesis is that the “exquisite corpse” quality of the display of the brand that results from the constant visual reshuffling (on the part of brand management, marketing partners, store owners and the customers interacting with the brand) causes personal narratives to be applied to the changing combination of images and constructed meanings.

Shifting Perspective: Packaging Studies

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Lindsay Bazos | Graduate Design Thesis

Shifting Perspective: Packaging Studies

Findings Anti-brand people that I know – whom are consistently unwilling to show affection for or attachment to brands on any level – were quick to tell me which Orbit box they would want. The typical comment went something like this: “I would want that one, just because of the box. I don’t care what’s inside.” Breaking down the Orbit brand in this way seems to heighten the impact of the value of the brand image over the product. Reducing the image down into parts transforms them into fetishized objects – collectables. The possibility of collecting and reorganizing creates a strong association of play to these branded objects, disassociated from anything having to do with the gum sticks themselves. The products essentially drop out of the equation. Opportunities Reshuffling inspires our desire to reconfigure and play without explicit direction to do so. Fetishization can be seen as a form of flexibility within a system because the act of collecting supports a more intimate identity dialogue between object and person. That said, my studies do suggest to me that using reshuffling as a design strategy can invite more participatory dynamics into a brand experience. It seems relevant to the way people are already starting to manage the contents of their lives.

fragmentation What happens to the music bits today will happen to the chair bits tomorrow when you are able to download the arm-rests from Ikea and the upholstery from Crate & Barrel, mix them up and print them out. - Fortune Magazine, 2006

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fetishizing The fetishized object must have a reference point within the system of the exchange economy – even the contemporary fetishization of the body in consumer culture is dependent upon the system of images within which the corporeal body has been transformed into another point of representation... The pleasure of possessing an object is dependent upon others. - Susan Stewart, On Longing


collecting To collect is to divert an object from any prescribed path or circulation, to place it to one side... As a peculiar form of accumulation, collecting appears to intensify the relationship between artifacts and collectors, facilitating a mutual exchange of identity. The drive to acquire more things contains, orders and arranges people’s desires, creating an illusion of mastery through delineating a ‘knowable’ space within the apparently endless universe of materiality. - N. Cummings & M. Lewandowska, The Value of Things


Lindsay Bazos | Graduate Design Thesis

DELETING BRAND ELEMENTS Hypothesis Deletion involves removing brand communication elements from the packaging in order to create literal blank space. My hypothesis is that removing different layers of top-down communication and creating “white” space allows a customer to get closer to the object she’s buying – to create a canvas for her to act on with her own values. Findings Removing color doesn’t break down the brand’s ability to communicate its agenda. Instead, this removal tends to highlight the secondary messages that help project the declared value of the brand (emotive patterns, flavor exaggeration, etc.). Reducing the packaging to modernist text with substantial white empty space supporting it (see following pages) feels oddly more dictatorial than the original Orbit packaging. Opportunities Perhaps the ultimate flexible brand experience and invitation to participate comes through the brand’s ability to honestly depict the thing it supports. Maybe the ultimate open brand narrative is created by focusing brand communication on form and function.

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white White is a synthesis of all colors and, at the same time, the lack of color – achromatic. As a color that escapes color, it is a special one. Put another way, color is no more than a single aspect of white. Insofar as it avoids color, and thus more strongly awakens physicality, it is a materiality; like empty space or a margin, it is pregnant with time and space. It even entails abstract concepts like absence and absolute zero. - Kenya Hara, Designing Design


Lindsay Bazos | Graduate Design Thesis

BRANDED AS “IT” Hypothesis These studies focus on creating a new kind of spectacle by translating the brand into a tangible experience. In this case, the images no longer create a brand experience that is distanced from the packaged object. My hypothesis is two-fold. My first assumption is that functional, haptic relationships between the packaged object and the user create greater space for interpretation of meaning. My second assumption is that, as we continue to constantly experience hyper-saturated, surface and fantasy focused brand experiences, the tangible and the real present themselves as the ultimate spectacle because they dive below printed surfaces and distanced aspirational experiences. The dense surface experience of brand spectacle – as we see on packaging, billboards, the internet and TV, and as we experience in branded environments – is now the norm. Following a new model that focuses on the real presents spectacle as a sensational experience.

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Lindsay Bazos | Graduate Design Thesis

Findings Transparency and tangibility are means of participation Opportunities As you have witnessed, the evolution of my explorations is a break from transcendence and a return to the material. With each reduction, the brand messages (which began as totally explicit in their “this is why you want me� communication) evolved into more conversational communication. I imagine that this leads to a brand/person relationship that is more human as a result of the brand being embedded into the product itself. It seems there is an opportunity to focus on tangible qualities of brands and invite people to take different paths into brand experience.

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anti-transcendence The nineteenth and twentieth century obsession with science, technology and the occupation of the sky have resulted in a different form of public sculpture and monument. The very fact that you can climb inside and to the top of the Eiffel Tower, the Statue of Liberty, or the statue of William Penn on the tower of Philadelphia’s City Hall simultaneously speaks to an abstract transcendence above and beyond the viewer and the possibility that the viewer can unveil the giant, can find the machinery hidden in the god and approach a transcendent view of the city himself or herself. - Susan Stewart, On Longing


Lindsay Bazos | Graduate Design Thesis

intangible | transformative

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transparent | tangible


rebranding process


Lindsay Bazos | Graduate Design Thesis

THE BRAND MODEL All of the brand models used to construct brand identities express variations of the same goal – make an emotional connection with the “target consumer.� One model is of particular interest to me (see opposite page), as it is the model I followed during my past career. It was the model that my boss lived by. Restructuring this model seems crucial, as my perspective on the role of branding has shifted. The only way for me to truly rebrand branding is to redesign the model that guides brand building. The rebranding has to start with the framework, and the process. My packaging explorations led me to my focus on tangible, transparent modes of branding that allow for personal narratives to be part of the brand conversation. I redesigned this model to reflect that focus and to propose a new way of working for the industry.

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Lindsay Bazos | Graduate Design Thesis

Shifting Perspective: Rebranding Process

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Lindsay Bazos | Graduate Design Thesis

Shifting Perspective: Rebranding Process

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Lindsay Bazos | Graduate Design Thesis

The priorities within the brand building process are reorganized and the rhetoric of branding is reconsidered (as words like “consumer,” “target,” “psychological and emotional benefits,” “brand toolbox” and “brand personality” support the idea that the customer is not intelligent, or even human). The tangible qualities of the products and services that the brand supports are brought back into focus within the new model, and a confidence in the intelligence of the customer is reestablished.

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Lindsay Bazos | Graduate Design Thesis

Shifting Perspective: Rebranding Process

THE BRANDING PROCESS Removing the surface narrative as the focus of branding and the key selling strategy puts more pressure on the entire design process, starting with the conception and development of the tangible products or services. And since commodities can only define themselves in relation to their competition, it is no longer an option to put an undifferentiated product in the market. There are no fabricated emotional values to mark points of difference. New products coming into the market have to be, in fact, new.

The current design process for branding includes multiple rounds of “consumer research” that are vital in identifying the emotional values of the brand. Both quantitative and qualitative research methods are used to test potential brand narrative platforms. The platforms often include different emotion-based propositions, such as “freedom” or “intelligence.” The most compelling narrative – the one that speaks most to “consumer” aspirations – is the narrative that becomes the brand. The potential for the brand design team to acquire genuine feedback on the experience of the brand is limited in the current branding process. Hugh Dubberly, a well-known design planner and teacher, states that “feedback is the information loop flowing from the system through the environment and back into the system.”[12] Feedback is not selectively listening for clues from screened participants in a focus group. In order for real feedback and dialogue between brand and person to occur and be observed, the products or services need to be in the market. This is where the construction of personal narratives around the brand can happen, and where the company can learn what its products or services are, and what they are not. On the following pages I have redesigned the brand design process to reflect this thinking. Of course, there are issues with me doing this. Design processes are difficult to standardize, especially if the goal is to free the process from its controlled, manipulative ways. But, as you will see, the redesigned process calls for 1) the brand narrative development to be condensed 2) the research revolving around the identification of emotional values to be removed and 3) the products or services to be introduced in the market faster so that the real observation and research can be put in motion.

how do we design? Our processes determine the quality of our products. If we wish to improve our products, we must improve our processes; we must continually redesign not just our products but also the way we design... How do we design? Why do we do it that way? - Hugh Dubberly, How Do You Design?

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then

PRODUCT SERVICE

NARRATIVE CONCEPTION

INTERNAL REFINEMENT

CONSUMER RESEARCH

CONSUMER OPTIMIZATION

APPLICATION

INTRODUCTION

existing research review

client + design team

quantitative

narrative adjustments establishment of emotional brand values

production of brand packaged products and services

transcendent brand experience

management interviews competitive analysis brand audit cultural anthropology

qualitative


CONSUMER RESEARCH

CONSUMER OPTIMIZATION

quantitative

narrative adjustments establishment of emotional brand values

qualitative


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now

PRODUCT SERVICE

NARRATIVE CONCEPTION

INTERNAL REFINEMENT

APPLICATION

INTRODUCTION

existing research review

client + design team

production of brand packaged products and services

tangible brand experience

management interviews competitive analysis cultural anthropology

RESEARCH VALUE PROPOSITIONING VALIDATION experience feedback opportunity for optimization


Lindsay Bazos | Graduate Design Thesis

INTUITIONS assuming intelligence invites personal engagement We don’t underestimate people. We really did believe that people would want something this good, that they’d see the value in it. People are smart; they figure these things out. - Steve Jobs, Apple

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narratives embedded in tangible experiences inspire elastic brand dialogue

Intuitions

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Lindsay Bazos | Graduate Design Thesis

Intuitions

“empty” icons offer space for personality characteristics to be projected onto them ‘We work very hard to avoid things that would define the character,’ a Sanrio executive has explained [Sanrio is the Japanese design firm that produced the Hello Kitty icon]. Similarly, the company does very little advertising on behalf of this, its most profitable emblem. The mouthless cat can not be said to ‘stand for’ some social or cultural idea – like the Polo emblem’s supposed connotation of upper class leisure or the Ecko rhino’s (possibly debatable) links to urban culture. Hello Kitty stands for nothing. - Rob Walker, Buying In

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SUPPORTING TEXT Stewart, Susan. On Longing: Narratives of the Miniature, the Gigantic, the Souvenir, the Collection. Durham and London: Duke University Press, 1993 ed. Addressing the relations of language to experience, the body to scale and narratives to objects, Susan Stewart looks at the “miniature” as a metaphor for interiority and at the “gigantic” as an exaggeration of aspects of the exterior. In the final part of her essay, Stewart examines the ways in which the “souvenir” and the “collection” are objects mediating experience in time and space.

Walker, Rob. Buying In: The Secret Dialogue Between What We Buy and Who We Are. New York: Random House, 2008. Brands are dead. Consumers are “in control.” Or so we’re told. In Buying In, New York Times Magazine “Consumed” columnist Rob Walker argues that this accepted wisdom misses a much more important and lasting cultural shift. As technology has created avenues for advertising anywhere and everywhere, people are embracing brands more than ever before. Walker demonstrates the ways in which buyers adopt products, not just as consumer choices, but as conscious expressions of their identities.

Cummings, Neil, & Lewandowska, Marysia. The Value of Things. London: August Media Ltd., 2000. This title argues that society’s priorities, its notions of value, are still informed by our relationship with physical objects, even though we have entered an age characterized by technological abstraction. This book examines how modern life is saturated and defined by things. The authors use a mix of text and photography to describe the way in which two institutions, the department store and the museum, are central to the story of society’s access to material things.

Hara, Kenya. Designing Design. Lars, Switzerland: Lars Muller Publishers, 2008 ed. Part treatise, part biography and part monography, Kenya Hara’s book, Designing Design, operates as a kind of quiet manifesto for design in the new millennium. For Hara, design is conceived as a platform to generate dialogue rather than one-way exchange. Design should be an empty vessel with space set aside for the user’s own thoughts and curiosities, a distinctly Japanese approach. The provision of such space gets attention precisely because it is so devoid of meaning. Particularly within the sea of visual noise that is the Japanese city, this strategy provides welcome relief to the eyes, and allows the user to enter the conversation as if asked, “What do you want me to be?” - Review by Blaine Brownell | Ambidextrous Magazine


Lindsay Bazos | Graduate Design Thesis

Supporting Text

Lakoff, George. Don’t Think of an Elephant: Know Your Values and Frame the Debate. Vermont: Chelsea Green Publishing, 2004.

Betsky, Aaron, & Eeuwens, Adam. False Flat: Why Dutch Design Is So Good. London: Phaidon Press Inc., 2008.

Lakoff, professor of cognitive linguistics, examines the ways US conservatives use language to create “frames.” He shows how he believes this misappropriation of language creates the context for discussion amongst candidates, parties and the media, rather than the real issues. He asserts that progressives and others committed to full public discourse must learn when it is used, and how to use it themselves to level the playing field.

FALSE FLAT showcases the dynamism of contemporary Dutch design and, through a detailed exploration of the country’s geography, culture and history, defines its particularities as a manifestation of things intrinsically “Dutch.”

Baudrillard, Jean. Simulacra and Simulation. Trans. Sheila Faria Glaser. Ann Arbor: The University of Michigan Press, 1994 ed.

Droog Design. Simply Droog. Amsterdam: Droog, 2004.

Moving away from the Marxist/Freudian approaches that had concerned him earlier, in this book Baudrillard develops a theory of contemporary culture that relies on displacing economic notions of cultural production with notions of cultural expenditure.

Droog’s debut and subsequent success at the 1993 International Furniture Fair in Milan proved that simplicity does not have to be boring. The number of products in the Droog collection has now grown to over 150. With a new 700 sq. meter headquarters in Amsterdam within their sights, a review of the last 10 years’ exhibitions, ideas and designers is well timed. The book is informative and a complete documentation of their entire range.

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Supporting Text

Buchanan, Richard & Margolin, Victor, eds. Discovering Design: Explorations in Design Studies. London: The University of Chicago Press, Ltd., 1995.

Holland, DK, ed. Design Issues: How Graphic Design Informs Society. New York: Allworthy Press, 2001.

Discovering Design reflects the growing recognition that the design of the everyday world deserves attention not only as a professional practice but as a subject of social, cultural, and philosophic investigation. The essays discuss such topics as the relation of aesthetics to technology, the place of design in social action, the role of the consumer in design decisions and the need for ethical practice in contemporary design.

Twenty contributors, ranging from designers, illustrators and advertising strategists to artists, writers and educators, look at contemporary design in a critical, ethical, historical, social and often humorous context. The voices that come together in this volume discuss issues such as: designing the shape of brands that are unscrupulously promoted on school grounds; the implications of the global branding warfare; design’s role in the blurry outcome of the Presidential ballot; designers’ uneasy relationship with reading and language; how graphic design can foster – or undermine – social developments in this world and more.

McLuhan, M., & Foire, Q. The Medium is the Massage. Berkeley: Gingko Press Inc., 2001 ed.

Grynsztein, Madeleine. Take Your Time: Olafur Eliasson. New York: W.W. Norton & Co., 2007.

With every technological and social advance McLuhan’s proclamation that “the media work us over completely” becomes more evident and plain. In his words, ‘so pervasive are they in their personal, political, economic, aesthetic, psychological, moral, ethical and social consequences that they leave no part of us untouched, unaffected, or unaltered’.

In the work of Icelandic artist Olafur Eliasson, the sun can rise inside a museum and rainbows can appear indoors. His immersive installations explore the intersection of nature and artifice, transforming ordinary spaces into sites of wonder and spectacle. From kaleidoscopes to waterfalls to mirrored passageways, the projects invite the viewer’s active participation while posing provocative questions about the workings of human perception.

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Supporting Text

Tufte, Edward R. Envisioning Information. Cheshire: Graphics Press, 1990.

ENDNOTES

This book celebrates escapes from the flatlands of both paper and computer screen, showing displays of dimensional, complex data. The most design-oriented of Edward Tufte’s books, Envisioning Information shows maps, charts, scientific presentations, diagrams, computer interfaces, statistical graphics and tables, stereo photographs, guidebooks, courtroom exhibits, timetables, use of color, a pop-up and other displays of information. The book provides practical advice about how to explain complex material by visual means. Topics include escaping flatland, micro/macro designs, color and information, , layering and separation, small multiples and narratives.

1] Burgoyne, Patrick. “Sao Paulo: The City That Said No To Advertising.” June 18, 2007. Businessweek. <businessweek.com/innovate/content/jun2007/id20070618_505580.htm> 2] Bennett, Paul. “Lessons from Sao Paulo’s Streets.” March 10, 2008. Adweek. <adweek.com/aw/ content_display/community/columns/other-columns/e3i1de189927bfff758aebb01a3dd64f455.html> 3] Walker, Rob. Buying In: The Secret Dialogue Between What We Buy and Who We Are. New York: Random House, 2008. Page 8. 4] Diller, Liz. “Architecture is a Special Effects Machine.” TED. December 2007. Online Video. <ted. com/index.php/talks/liz_diller_plays_with_architecture.html> 5] “Existentialism.” Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. August 23, 2004. <plato.stanford.edu/ entries/existentialism> 6] Cummings, Neil, & Lewandowska, Marysia. The Value of Things. London: August Media Ltd., 2000. Page 53. 7] McLuhan, M., & Foire, Q. The Medium is the Massage. Berkeley: Gingko Press Inc., 2001 ed. Page 26. 8] Baudrillard, Jean. Simulacra and Simulation. Trans. Sheila Faria Glaser. Ann Arbor: The University of Michigan Press, 1994 ed. Page 91.

BOOK EXCERPTS | ARTICLES | VIDEOS

9] Stewart, Susan. On Longing: Narratives of the Miniature, the Gigantic, the Souvenir, the Collection. Durham and London: Duke University Press, 1993 ed. Page 7.

Gombrich, E.H. “The Visual Image.” The Story of Art. London: Phaidon Press Limited, 1995. Pages 2-16.

10] Neff, Jack. “Lever’s CMO Throws Down the Social Media Gauntlet.” April 13, 2009. Advertising Age. < http://adage.com/abstract.php?article_id=135943 >

Lakoff, George. “More About Cognitive Models.” Women, Fire and Dangerous Things: What Categories Reveal About the Mind. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1990. Pages 253 - 270.

11] Walker, Rob. Buying In: The Secret Dialogue Between What We Buy and Who We Are. New York: Random House, 2008. Introduction xxi.

Bowker, Geoffrey C., & Star, Susan Leigh. “Introduction.” Sorting Things Out: Classification and Its Consequences. Cambridge: The MIT Press, 2000. Pages 1-32.

12] Dubberly, Hugh. “How Do You Design? A Compendium of Models.” Dubberly Design Office, 2004. Page 117.

School of Visual Arts Paul Rand Lecture Series. “Steven Heller on Branding the Totalitarian State.” 27 April 2007. <http://design.schoolofvisualarts.edu//blojsom_resources/meta/paulrand/ 01%20Steven%20Heller%20on%20Branding%20the%20Totalitarian%20State.m4v> O’Brien, Jeffrey M. “A Factory of One’s Own.” Fortune Magazine. 07 November 2006. <http:// money.cnn.com/magazines/fortune/fortune_archive/2006/11/13/8393124/index.htm> Digit Interactive Communications Group. “Brand 2.0: Intelligent Branding.” White Paper, 2009. Dubberly, Hugh. “How Do You Design: A Compendium of Models.” Dubberly Design Office. White Paper, 2004.

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PROJECT This project was presented to the Graduate Design faculty of California College of the Arts in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the Master of Fine Arts degree. Spring 2009


LINDSAY BAZOS REBRANDING BRANDING HELLO@ LINDSAY BAZOS.COM


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