The brand and no-brand discussion has a long history, but most probably the most prominent point was the publishing of the NO LOGO book by Naomi Klein where she argued that over-branding leads to negative consequences, such as the invasion of public and cultural spaces and cultural values being driven or even created by sales motives.
That was a strong point, but the irony was not lost when the NO LOGO became “a sort of logo” for the anti-brand movement and the book with its ideas created something close to a brand. So I guess, this just proved the point that branding is an inevitably natural phenomenon.
But let’s a look at the counter-intuitive examples where brands try not to be brands, but still are brands. Yes, that’s confusing, I know.
1. NO-DESIGN DESIGN
Muji is a very curious bird – a Japanese company that has been started in 1980 that has been driven to make everyday objects that are simplistic and “empty” (that’s the word they are using themselves).
The brand is steadily growing into a retail giant and it’s logic of simplification seems to be gaining momentum. If you go through the images of the products, you will see there is a certain unpretentious serenity about them.
The other brilliant moment about the brand is how they innovate. They don’t call it social listening, they don’t call it consumer research, they don’t call it ethnographic or any other kind of study – they simply say that they go to people’s home and ask questions and investigate what people need orlack. That’s that. Brilliant.
2. AGENCY WITHOUT BRANDING
This is an Amsterdam studio formed back in by 3 founders that remain with the studio up till the present day. And so does their attitude for agency branding.
The agency follows a very straightforward logic – if we create branding and creative work for others, we should showcase that instead of what we are. Not so many clients care for the branding of their creative/design agency, they are much more preoccupied that the agency will deliver for them.
The conclusion is simple – feck agency branding, let’s show what we can do instead. Can’t argue with that.
3. THE UNBRANDED BRAND
Premium brand without a brand would enrage many marketers. Well, that’s what the unbranded brand is about.
They throw away all that is unnecessary and unneeded to have a lower price for a premium product.
In a branded world the unbranded is a new type of brand. And there is a certain pride in that – a way of justifying the fact that the company does what it matters and throws everything else overboard.
4. THE UNBRANDED WEB
yep, that’s actually 2015
If you are looking for a website that could be crowned as the most unbranded website ever, I am pretty sure your quest might be over. Take a look at the Craiglist website. The term “barebones” hardly describes it. And yet there it is.
Craiglist very existence (and company performance) challenges the notions of visual identity and the importance of design. This is the example of pure functionality and service driven no-no-brand.
I guess, the point is simple. All of the above teach us a simple truth that a no-brand is an aesthetic and ideological position and a no-image is an image just as much.