Category: Music, Art, Film & Fashion

The Color of Sound

February 22, 2012 — Joshua Books

Meg’s blog about Christian Louboutin’s use of the color red got me thinking about another product that has recently benefited from color branding: headphones.

Eight years ago, Apple’s iPod TV commercial changed the way consumers see music. The dark silhouettes dancing against bright colored backdrops brought the contrasting white iPod and ear-buds to life.

Here is just one of iPod/iTunes ads run by Apple in recent years:

Apple marketed products under the rainbow logo for more than twenty years until 1998, when a corporate identity rebrand introduced the monochromatic/white color scheme. This change sparked a revolution in the iconic nature of their products.

After the iPod was introduced in 2001, white headphones became a virtual status symbol, and a badge of insider knowledge. Pinpointing the opportunity to brand this accessory was a stroke of genius (like so many other strokes of genius that can be credited to Apple), And thanks to Apple, the headphone craze has exploded internationally, as innovative branding has transformed a utilitarian necessity to a form of self-expression.

Living and working in New York City makes it difficult to let trends go unnoticed. Which is why my ears perked up when I started hearing […]

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A Well-Heeled Debate

February 2, 2012 — Meg Asaro

Can a brand “own” a color? While traveling on business recently, I actually had time to read the entire paper, from front to back. As a working mom of a toddler, a true luxury, I assure you. Anyway, I was enthralled by an article that started with the question, “Can you trademark the color red?”. As some of you may know, last year Christian Louboutin attempted unsuccessfully to stop YSL from selling red-soled shoes, claiming infringement of its “federally registered Red Sole Mark.” YSL shot back with “Dorothy is the original,” as in,  The Wizard of Oz. Classy stuff. More importantly, the court’s answer was essentially that color is functional, meaning that it is a tool to which all designers should have access. But, the article also goes onto say that Burberry’s famous plaid is theirs and theirs alone. A contradiction of terms…or is a pattern more “ownable” than a chinese red, the official shade of the red sole itself?

I would beg to differ on both accounts. Ask anybody to close their eyes and say the first thing that comes to mind when you say Target or Coke. Inevitably, they will say “red” over the bullseye or the bottle, […]

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Branded Cities

October 26, 2011 — Meg Asaro


Do cities have their own brand? Personality? Style of storytelling? The resounding answer is yes. Close your eyes and what do you see when your hear the “City of Lights”? Rain bouncing on cobblestoned streets? Parisians riding around on bicycles with baguettes sticking out of their baskets? Paris was a central character in Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris. So much, in fact (spoiler alert!) that the viewer was taken through a portal to the city during its bohemian heyday. Who wouldn’t want to chum around with Picasso, Dali or Hemingway?



Carrie Bradshaw constantly referred to New York City as a central character in Sex in the City. These days, romantic comedies seem destined to be centered around the Big Apple. Is it the smell of the roasted cashews, the provoking museums, sumptuous restaurants, horse riding through Central Park? Maybe it’s that great tap water that gets the heart pumping.



Last month, I saw Drive. Now, let me say, I’m not an LA girl but Ryan Gosling? (Thank you sir, may I have another). Drive reminded me of my curious but detached attitude to the “City of Angels”. Some people love it. Anthony […]

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Missoni Madness

October 5, 2011 — Rachel Kash


A few weeks ago, America was treated to an Italian invasion in the form of Missoni for Target, a special limited edition line of bikes, luggage, clothes and housewares in partnership with the design-centric retailer. Target heavily promoted this campaign with this ad:



Weeks before the launch, fashion and design lovers marked the launch date in their iPhones – but it seems they weren’t the only ones.


Because when Missoni for Target launched on September 13th (not coincidentally, during New York Fashion Week), the response was not just overwhelming – it was pure chaos. So many consumers visited that the site actually crashed! In fact, if you went there in the hopes of purchasing multicolored hand towels and pretty throw pillows, here’s what you found instead:




What the what? Doesn’t Target welcome millions of visitors to its site every day? Aren’t they equipped for this sort of thing? Seems the big box retailer was also taken off guard by all the hoopla, so much so that Joshua Thomas, a Target spokeman, the Associated Press that, “This is unprecedented.”


So why the big run on Missoni? Well, as one […]

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Renegade Craft Fair

July 14, 2011 — Erin Fosbenner and Melissa Feudi


Last weekend, Erin and I visited the Renegade Craft Fair in Williamsburg in search of inspiration from the young and creative artisans that have sprung up all over Brooklyn.

Traditionally, crafts have held a unique place on the scales of imaginative art-making: they’ve conveyed family, community, and cultural stories that are at times intimate, decorative, sociological, and spiritual. And craft museums and fairs have been capsules offering a glimpse and insight into old craft-making, and craft art. (It takes a big history buff to relate and look past the “surface-bore.”)

In my teens, I always got excited about trips to the local art fair, then crazy disappointed at what I discovered: a buffet of ceramic butterflies, tie-dyed everything, made-for-the-kitchen wooden signs with clichéd family idioms, and all the rest. But Erin had a different memory. For her, crafts shows were reflections of her grandmother’s home and filled with surprise – chests of beautiful, handmade, and original trinkets and things.

So on this weekend, at Renegade, there we were, Melissa and Erin, a counter-balance of positive, and negative arts-and-crafts psyches, and this is what we found: refreshingly original crafts booths and displays (outrageously different than […]

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TV Shows Start Thinking Out-of-the-Box

June 9, 2011 — Jennifer Curulli



The opening credits for a TV show is like its three-minute elevator pitch, during which you can sell a viewer on what the show is all about, who the star is and what the feel of the show will be. Today an audience has eighteen other things going on when they sit down to watch TV (and that’s even if they are watching it on scheduled time, as opposed to via a DVR). How do you really grab a new audience’s attention? Brand the heck out of your series!

Today’s shows use a variety of design methods that go above and beyond what used to be a “typical” intro. The majority of shows from the ‘70s, ‘80s, and ‘90s follow one of two formulaic systems. Either they have staged film roll of each actor doing “normal character” things with his/her name in a traditional font over the visual, or they show clips from episodes for each main character in the series with one piece of music over it all and again, with bland white typography over each frame. This is best shown here in classic ‘80s sitcom, “Who’s The Boss.”



These days, producers […]

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Will Jenny From The Block Win The Celebrity Brand Turf War?

December 10, 2010 — Sandra Creamer

By Sandra C.

Photo Courtesy of

WWD just reported that Jessica Simpson has broken the “$1 billion retail barrier” with her fashion / lifestyle brand. Hard to believe for someone best known for thinking that chicken comes from the sea! But this report proves Jess is no dummy—in fact, she is worth about $100 million. Not bad! Close on her heels is Jennifer Lopez, who recently made news with the announcement that she and her husband, Marc Anthony, are going to launch a lifestyle brand exclusively at Kohl’s in 2011. The question that comes to mind: Is this going to work?

[media-credit  align=”alignleft” width=”145″][/media-credit]Like Jessica Simpson, Lopez has generated more news with her non-Hollywood pursuits than with her music or movie career (“The Back Up Plan” being one in a string of recent, forgettable films) However, “Jenny from the block” was recently named one of Barbara Walters’ “10 Most Fascinating People of 2010”, and has a new stint as a judge on “American Idol.” More importantly, she is also very busy on the business front as the new brand ambassador for L’Oreal, and already has a very successful fragrance line with […]

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Waiting for “Superman”… or Superbrand?

September 29, 2010 — David Kim

By David K.

Waiting for Superman, Davis Guggenheim’s provocative new documentary on the state of American public education, opened in select cities last Friday, contributing to the recent wave of debates from Main Street to K Street on educational reform.

The Superman metaphor is a fitting one for the neglected students in America’s fast deteriorating public schools; it captures their longing for rescue from the muck of educational disparity.

For branders, “Superman” will evoke something entirely different—superhero as (super)brand mark, comic-cool, paragon of advertiser’s virtue. After all, is there a more iconic brand ensemble than red cape, French blue body suit, and golden “S?” Color and logo leaping over distressed frontiers like education in a single bound, swaying the tide of public perception faster than a speeding bullet, and raising the banner of generational hope with taglines like “No Child Left Behind” and “Race to the Top” (that’s “NCLB” and “R2T” for aficionados of brand acronyms). Yea to branding and its seductive, zany lure.

But, when it comes to the hallowed battleground of the classroom, should we confuse Superman as brand mark with Superman as metaphor (or, one better—real life reformers in the flesh?)? Elevate consumption over participation? Favor […]

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Brand experienced: When local is not enough (Part 2 of 2)

August 4, 2010 — Brian McDonagh

By Brian M.

(…) This is the continuation of last week’s blog article ” Brand experienced: When local is not enough” by Brian M. This is part 2, part 1 should be read first (…)

I guess I am not too upset—it’s to be expected. I mean, how can some intangible entity do better than a flagship store full of people less than a ½ mile away who have access to the inventory of 11 other stores within a 10 mile radius?  It would have been superhuman.

Even so there are opportunities for both Amazon and B&N to think bigger about who they are and how much more they could mean to consumers like me:

Amazon has the opportunity to become a new iteration of the personal shopper—the logistics alone for this are huge, but by celebrating the human element , not the algorithmic one, it offers a great moment to make a real connection.

Slap RFID tags in the boxes and make the processes trackable in a more concrete, personal way. It’s one thing to watch the transaction-abstraction of the slow but steady progress of a UPS or Fedex package making its way across our interstate […]

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Brand experienced: When local is not enough (Part 1 of 2)

July 29, 2010 — Brian McDonagh

By Brian M.

I say “Brand Experience” and You say this, that, and other things which partly to mostly confuse me. Yes, And, none of the above is possible if a brand can’t deliver. Consider one case … literally. At first glance it might read like a tired tale of the now clichéd brick and mortar struggling to stay in the game against the click and order set. “Technology Once and for all Conquers Humans.” Nah, it’s more than that.  After all, you can still fail online – even if you’re Google. (In fact, it’s easy to blame technology when maybe the story is just another chapter in “Humans: Getting in Our Own Way for Millennia.”) So, I see it as a question of focus. Not, ‘Do what you do well’, but, ‘What do you do, really?’ Here’s the lowdown:

FADE IN ON: Me. A typical morning. I am not at home cozily luxuriating over the choice between a drive to the local big box and a visit to a virtual wonder world. I am simply a guy who needs a book—right away—whose immediate instincts tell him, “Get off your butt and walk down the street if you […]

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