AFTERNOW

A blog about what is and what could be

Invisible Brands

Recently I’ve stumbled upon some of Rob Walker’s work in prelude to his new book “Buying In”.  In one of his write-ups he talks about invisible badges.  According to Walker, badges are signals that suggest a tighter relationship with the brand producer and the brand consumer.

Walker observes that people no longer buy stuff to impress others, rather to impress themselves.  This means that logos are becoming less important indicators of status.  Look no further than the high-end fashion industry where logos are shrinking.

Christian Louboutin has made red soles the staple of his shoe line.  Bottega Venta bags are identifiable by their intricately weaved patterns. Rolex is known for the weight of its watches and Armani for the slender rounded shoulders of its men’s blazers.

Intended for small affinity groups rather than mass markets, these companies are creating brand undergrounds where consumers need to be fully indoctrinated in the brand cultures to fully understand their subtle signaling.

This is a liberating trend for brands with strong belief systems like Zappos that pays their employees to quit or Gourmet that believe that there is no conflict between mixing high fashion and streetwear pieces.  Companies with substance can now start to tell richer brand stories through the product themselves.

Moving forward the miniaturization of logos will become more prominent, where embedded clues, colors, fabric and materials will become the main brand identifier.

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