The [funny] art of naming a nail polish

The [funny] art of naming a nail polish

American Hustle (2013) is a peculiar movie. This highly entertaining flick is put together brilliantly. Don’t know how many of you noticed Jennifer Lawrence’s (Rosalyn Rosenfeld in the movie) obsession over her [supposedly] beautiful nails and the particularly beautiful nail polish she wears. In one of the scenes, half way through the movie, she goes on and on about her fragrant nail polish while she is dining in a restaurant with her husband and another couple. The sweet spot we are interested in this scene is the way she describes her nail polish. She says, ‘There’s this top coat that you can only get from Switzerland and I don’t know what I’m going to do because I’m running out of it but I LOVE the smell of it’. And then she asks everyone to smell her nails and describes it as ‘perfumey but also something rotten’.

Painting nails is not a new avocation. It has been there for centuries. The commercial practice of it started only in 1878. The first nail salon was opened in Manhattan during this time when women entered the workforce. It started off as an inexpensive luxury. It was so in demand that people bought nail polish even during the Great Depression. Back then, when asked what makes nail polish so desirable, women said that it makes them feel good about themselves. People certainly couldn’t disagree with this opinion as men had too many things to feel good about themselves. Later, Hollywood stars and advertisements propagated the appealing nature of nail polish and it eventually became a great topic to talk about among women.

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When people talk about something, they use names of people or places or events or anything related to it. However, initially, nail polish had only numbers for each shade. Each colour had multiple shades and the manufacturers didn’t think much about numbering each tiny bottle. The unpleasant fact is that we have only limited terms for colours and infinite numbers. Both are equally displeasing. A great thinker once said that to name something is to begin understanding it. Perhaps, Jennifer Lawrence attempts to name her nail polish only to fail, but ends up giving a glaring description. She understood it, but could not name it.

It is interesting to notice the way language restricts our verbal expressions. A linguistic study revealed that there are only 6-8 colours that can be recognized and associated universally with a set of words. Some tribal languages have only three colour terms – dark, light and all the others. Russian has two words for blue (wonder what they say to ask for a pair of blue jeans). Most Indian languages do not have words for colours like pink and purple. Some of the colour terms are even borrowed from fruits, vegetables and animals’ nomenclature. We have hundreds of colours and their respective shades, but only a few terms to represent them. But, all these linguistic barriers did not stop Suzi Weiss-Fischmann, the Hungarian-American businesswoman who founded O.P.I, from inventing new names for all the lovely shades she had produced in her company. She was so unstoppable that she named one of the shades ‘Lincoln park after dark’. The company is known for it’s hilariously witty, funny and innovative nail polish names.

O.P.I was originally Odontorium Products Inc., a small dental supply company. After it was sold out, Suzi and her partner turned this company into a nail polish manufacturer. They started giving funny names to different shades and every collection holds relevance. When the company plans a limited collection to be released in a particular city, Suzi flies down to that city, explores all the iconic places and makes notes. Later, she will be accompanied by her naming squad, typically consisting of people from different departments of the company, and they thumb through maps, atlases and books to arrive at a clever name. No wonder they came up with a name like ‘Sun, sea and sand in my pants’.

Suzi was hit with this idea of giving clever names to nail polish when she was at a Starbucks once. She wondered, when a coffee seed can be brewed in different ways and it could be sold with different names, nail polishes too deserve a new identity like that. Other nail polish manufacturers too followed their naming architecture and created a gorgeous industry. When asked about what she feels about nail polishes, Suzie said it’s a ‘personal experience’. It’s true. This experience comes alive when a friend or a stranger at the bar comes up to a woman to know the name of the nail polish shade she is wearing and the name the woman utters is what makes it tick. It circles in their social circles until the stock is sold-out.

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Here are a few names that didn’t leave our mind after we read them.

A butterfly moment | My Chihuahua bites | I’m not really a waitress | Crawfishin’ for a compliment | Don’t Bossa Nova me around | Can’t find my Czechbook | Alpaca my bags | Vant to bite my neck? | Don’t make me wine | Tea with the queen | Jealous boyfriend | Jamaican me crazy | Pet my peacock | Cougar attack | Don’t pretzel my buttons | Did you ear about Van Gogh

The last one is our favourite – not the shade, just the name.

There are two interesting stories worthy of sharing. Suzie was bitten by a Chihuahua when they were under the process of naming and hence ‘My Chihuahua bites’. A woman from the naming team was in a restaurant once and the waitress spilled some wine on her accidentally and said ‘I’m not really a waitress’ and that apologetic phrase turned into a name instantly.

If this is the way to name things, ‘Rotten flower from Swiss Alps’ would make a perfect name for Jennifer Lawrence’s nail polish in the movie American Hustle.

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Notes from our design studio

Notes from our design studio

The taste for identity and an urge for differentiation is nothing new. Like we have corporate logos today, the Japanese created their own family ‘crests’ for each family name, centuries ago. Each crest represents a surname (usually called a family name). These pieces of identity are also called Coat of Arms in some parts of the world. This fact might belittle a graphic designer at first but it reinforces their efforts towards their work of art as they are practicing one of the oldest arts, but in another way and by using modern tools. Nothing we do today is born out of thin air and nothing can all stand by itself. Artists seeking originality today have to attempt a dialogue with history.

A researcher once said that his passport is more powerful than him because it has all the information the other person has to know about him and it looks cuter than his whole self and that it can cross borders alone, but he cannot without carrying it. His argument postulated the inevitable inclination towards brevity and information. Although his statement corresponds to a different field of study, it seems more relevant in the context of design. Communication is essential in this world and we are more and more dependent on machines and mechanical persons for that purpose. To declutter the process, downsizing has to take charge.

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You are bound to reinvent the wheel and yes, it is useless. While thinking about a graphical/artistic representation of a product/brand you might first produce something that is close to an already existing piece of art. You will then go for some other unexplored areas to get a hold of a new perspective. This happened with the invention of the hand axe for the first time. During the hominin evolution, those who invented the hand axe could not transmit the knowledge of how it was made to the next generation and so it was invented several times over centuries. The hand axe and the subsequent compound axe were invented over and over again. Against this epic failure, a designer must avoid reinventing things by transmitting his knowledge from project to project about how not to think and where not to look for inspiration.

Design (graphic design for that matter) is closely related to semiotics. The French thinker Roland Barthes had a distinct voice in this regard. His idea of semiotics and the interrelatedness of every object within its vicinity sheds light on mass culture. Film is one such culture. For instance, the movies made in the early 60s and 70s had a nature of feeding information with every frame. Posters and titles have had many direct visual and symbolic representations of what the maker wanted to convey. So, it seems, film has always got the necessary semiotic perspective, if we reinterpret one of Roland Barthes’ statements that meant – the audience always looks for signs to interpret a narrative. For example, Saul Bass’ ‘Anatomy of a murder’ is one iconic poster designed for the film by the same name. Sometimes design acts as a substitute for language and thought, and other times it cannot be substituted.

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Orson Welles didn’t make ‘Citizen Kane’ all by himself and had a number of inspirations for many scenes of the film. Xerox didn’t invent photocopiers. Microsoft didn’t invent Windows. Apple didn’t invent MP3 players. Amazon didn’t invent online shopping. Sony didn’t invent games consoles, video recorders, or portable cassette players. They all just brought together all the greatest inventions and consolidated them to make the best product. When you don’t have an idea, stay open to the world and work things in your way later. A person, a word, a street or a coffee might give you an idea (not restricted to these and not necessarily in this order).

Few designers talk about Design Thinking, few others talk about Design Doing, some talk about Design Being but you can always end with Design Feeling.

Inkube

Inkube

Making design not just the extension of the environment,
but the environment itself.

INKUBE – a coworking space – is the definition of contemporary in the modern world. It’s where a lot of young ideas will bloom into the voices of the future. We did not want to limit the environmental branding (space branding) to just complimenting the vibe, but also generating it. Therefore, pragmatic designs that blend seamlessly into the space and create one positive aura, and bright colors to stimulate the entrepreneurial spirit.

Thinking of brands

Thinking of brands

People think of a brand as much as a brand thinks of people.

People thinking

People do not think about a brand unless they have a need and a brand serves it well. Those needs could be functional or emotional. Several products came into existence to serve the many needs of people and brands drop their ads and visual identities whenever and wherever possible to grab their attention. Early in the infancy of this industry, naive-experts (oxymoron) understood that a brand is what people know and what they think about it and not what the brand actually wants to be. A brand exists as a knowledge structure in the mind of the consumer The power of a brand lies in what resides in the minds of customers. And, so, accordingly those brands that make people think become stronger brands. Such strong brands are always rooted in culture or in daily lives. To emphasise, stronger brands deliver customer value by providing culturally resonant stories and images that customers use to buttress their identities.

Marlboro was reintroduced in 1955 as a filtered cigarette targeted to men. The new advertising showed tough men sporting a military tattoo on the top of one hand. The ads told stories of these men enjoying themselves working on their car or fishing. This launch was a huge success that fetched a 5%increase in share. This tattoo campaign was pulled in 1959. For the next four years, agencies experimented with a variety of ideas intended to communicate masculinity and none of them worked. Finally in 1965 the brand took off again with a campaign depicting the autonomous life of industrious cowboys laboring on the range, with music from The MagnificentSeven playing in the background, and named this new imaginary place‘Marlboro Country’.

Budweiser was a competitive but not dominating brand in the 1970s, strongly challenged by other well-known brands. In 1983, they launched “This Bud’sfor You,” a campaign that showcased men working cheerfully and industriously in artisanal trades, men whom Bud saluted with abaritone-​voiced announcer proclaiming “this Bud’s for you!” The results were startling. American men, particularly working-class men, flocked to the beer. By the middle of the decade, Budweiser was unchallenged as the most desirable beer in the country, dominating the premium segment.

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People think for themselves and not for the brands. They are insanely busy and unapologetically forgetful. A brand can have a moment with them provided the brand relates itself to them culturally and individually.

Brands thinking

Brands have no choice but to think about people. ‘People can remember brands but brands cannot remember people’ is an obvious overstatement but it emphasises the need for doing something worth remembering.

A Lexus dealer once delivered a serviced car to a customer. The next day, the customer complained of a leak from somewhere which left a dark stain on the concrete floor of his garage. The usual apology of a luxury brand would consist of two more free services or something in that line. But the dealer serviced the car for free again and instead of getting the floor cleaned, he replaced the entire concrete floor with a new one.

When Apple first thought of opening their own stores, the primary thing they are worried about is the customer experience. Their idea of brick-and-mortar stores were those that offer an immersive experience. To test their ability, they erected a wooden replica of their pre-planned store in the outskirts of the city only to dismantle it because Steve Jobs didn’t like it. Though they fell short of time and budget, they worked around their shortcomings and what we see today is a result of months of experimentation. The idea of the GeniusBar too holds a similar back story.

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Brands have so much to lose with each touchpoint. The ad could be great but the shopping experience could be dissatisfying or the product itself could be poorly designed. A brand’s job is to assimilate everything onto the same page. An average product and an average service creates an average impression. A Great product and a great shopping experience create a lasting impression. Sloppy product with a great service and an average ad create only confusion. This confusion is harmful in a competitive market. Nike is based upon ‘authentic athletic performance’, which exists as a knowledge structure in customers’ minds. Yet, consumers’ knowledge of ofNike’s athletic performance is inconsequential. They hold similar knowledge structures for Adidas, Puma and other athletic brands. This knowledge does not differentiate success from failure, and has nothing to do with why consumers valueNike’s brand symbolism. Consumers value Nike primarily because they find value in the stories that have been embedded in Nike, its symbolism, and draw upon these stories in their everyday lives.

Walker’s Diary

Walker’s Diary

A diary that inspires you all through the year.

The idea for this diary stemmed out of Ucchvas’ positioning statement which says, Re-walk to life. It is loaded with inspiration and aspiration. To take it further, we designed this diary that narrates the lives of the greatest people who contributed to humankind in various ways. This is a tribute to those legends who walked miles and miles in pursuit of knowledge and for a greater good. With this diary, each month begins with an inspiring story. Each day reminds you to never stop your journey. ‘Odyssey’, the name of this diary, aptly summarizes the journey of life.

Talking in grams: Revisiting Isotype

Talking in grams: Revisiting Isotype.

Would you enter a toilet which has no gender segregation signages outside it,
without hesitation?

Why is it that we have gender specific pronouns for male (he) and female (she) and
not for other genders?

Why is it that only men are gentle as in gentlemen, and not women?

In 2016, North Carolina legislature has enacted a bill (Bathroom bill) which states that an individual may use gender specific toilets in public places according to the sex confirmed (at the time of birth) & mentioned in one’s own birth certificate. With this dicey ruling, protests ebbed from every corner within no time. Transgender rights activists decried the bill for obvious reasons and their protest received deserved attention, sending a wave of dissent across the country. As expected, the government realized the mistake and scrapped the bill later this year (2019). Let alone the bill, we as artists, designers and business people have a lot to look through this case – how we look at each other in a society.

To brush up a little history – gender segregated toilets/restrooms were not a reality until atleast two centuries ago. As a matter of fact, women didn’t even have toilets in public places around this time. They were expected to stay at home or leave early from social gatherings. Of course, times have changed eventually. This was precicely when toilets were segregated and signages of men and women (pictograms) were put up outside. Now, along with these two, transgender pictogram is also added to say that it is a gender-neutral toilet. But, if it is a neutral one, isn’t it enough to just put the word ‘toilet’ and drop the pictograms? Or is it better to create an all-gender pictogram so that it can be used in every possible place?

If a social problem such as this isn’t a prey for design, what is? After all, Isotype was born as a solution for one such problem.

Isotype (International System of Typographic Picture Education) is a method of graphic design which was formulated (in the late 1920s; lasted till early 1970s) solely for educational purpose. It is often addressed as Vienna method as it originated in Vienna, Austria and was developed by Otto Neurath and Gerd Arntz along with Marie Neurath for Gesellschafts- und Wirtschaftsmuseum. This system is desribed as language-like system which is capable of imparting factual information and satististics to common people in a condensed form.

The functional elements of this system are also called pictograms. The principle founders of this system hoped it to function parallelly with verbal languages because Isotype was thought to be the driving vehicle for ‘common knowledge in a common language’. Societal aspects such as housing, health, education and social administration were the main backgrounds of Isotype design, which altogether state that this system evolved more as a social need to build a communicative tool. Otto Neurath says that pictorial signs must be created that can be read, like letters and musical notations. It is a matter of creating a kind of hieroglyphic script suitable for international application (1928).
To understand the philosophy of Isotype, it is necessary to review the writing systems we have. Any writing system is used to represent elements or statements expressible in a language. These systems require characters, scripts, orthography and physical symbols to construct a meaning. Logographic, syllabic (Japanese), alphabetical (English), alphasyllabary (Telugu) and abjad (Arabic) are the widely known and recognizable writing systems for us. Out of all these, logographic system walks tall for it is the one which is inter-cultural and inter-lingual.

 

Pictograms (represent words) and ideograms (represent ideas) are the two constituents of logographic system which make it a univeral communicative tool. Modern day name for both of them is ‘icon’. The million icons we blink at everyday, such as of bus, tram, pedestrian, escalator etcetera – in public places; camera, search, battery, printer, alarm etcetera in PCs are pictograms which actually ring bells of individual words in the language we speak. Arrows directing this way, that way, no way, thumbs up for like, tick in a box for vote, pizza slice, martini glass, no smoking, restaurant cloche, knife & fork for a restaurant etcetera are ideograms.
Therefore, all that Isotype created are Ideograms and not pictograms, so to speak; leaving it open for debate.

Isotype started as a pictorial language which can inform the people about the government plans and policies in Vienna, through easily comprehensible pictograms (hereafter referred to as icons). For example, a mammoth statistical data of ration of Vienna is boiled down to one simple chart with silhouttes. However, it couldn’t become a universal language as expected by its founders; it rather became an international practice in the decades following the 70s. Even though most philosophers and designers who witnessed its course declared that it could never be a complete language (like a picture esperanto), its influence and effect is evident on modern day icons all over the world. Design critic and academician Ellen Lupton writes: Otto Neurath’s concept was continued after World War 2 by graphic designers internationally and its legacy includes both the design of statistical charts and the more generalized production of visual symbol sets, from travel signage to corporate identity marks (1987).

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As a well formulated and established design method, Isotype movement failed to travel across different domains. The last application of this method is said to be done by United States department of transportation (DOT) for traffic and road signs (1970s), which are also being used in other countries. Otto Neurath’s stylistic principles (silhouttes) remain the foundation for icons we see in the world today, whether it be on elevators or toilets or even in airports. The movement neither died nor evolved. All it proved is that this system is certainly a language, which is not put to use much.

Graphic designers from around the world were aware of Isotype and the applause and shrugg offs it received. It was unhurriedly accepted as a graphic design technique in a few years.

The fundamental and basic principle of Isotype movement is that the icons should be devoid of any emotional means. While the core principles – reduction, readability (comprehensibility) and consistency in design have been implemented while making an icon, emotionless-ness, which is a fundamental principle, had subsided in its evolution. This is evident when we observe the difference in charts made from 1925-43 and from 1944-71. In the last three decades of its existence, Isotype was used to ilustrate children’s literature, in which the basic nature of this method crossed boundaries in representing an object by being more emotional and less informative.

All this exposition proposes that Isotype design had a potential to be an icon and a symbol (semiotic) at any given time considering its cultural and social relevance. Like blackness of a blackbird is the iconicity of that bird, emotionless-ness is the iconicity of Isotype.

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Otto Neurath in 1927 wrote: Social museums have as their object – the person as a social being. Interestingly, the Gesellschafts- und Wirtschaftsmuseum was described not as a museum for rare artifacts or for works of art, but it was conceived as a place to gain knowledge. Not only this, all the charts and icons exibited in the museum were said to be modifiable and reproducible. This being the inception of this movement, it grew up to become more descriptive and representative by including emotional aspects in the icons/images made for children’s literature. The idea of pictograms (as referred to, then) for children is conceived to be in the form of educational charts which help them in getting acquainted with the environment and surroundings. Therefore, this deviaton from emotionless-ness is palpable in Marie Neurath’s work, which depicts more descriptive images rather than silhouttes without any human features.

Ruth P.Ruinstein in his paper ‘Interpreting visual narratives’ (1997, pp. 725-728) quotes French sociologist Maurice Halbwachs who postulated that visual images are a part of core culture, like time and space, and give shape to a child’s orientation to social realities. Ideas, beliefs and values, that is. The basic constructs of collective life are embodied in images. They contain the central system of rules of behaviour and thought that controls much of what we do. These visual images are collectively called public memory. Artists who are unusually receptive to the group’s categories of visual images may intentionally employ such constructs in their work, updating and reaffirming or altering their traditional meaning (1980). This whole idea suits the ideology of Isotype design and its evolution without doubt. This detailed definition strengthens the notion of icons and their ability to carry information being a languge in itself.


Decades have passed leaving newer problems. Now, no smoking icon goes along with no vaping too. Toilets have three icons of gender. Bicycle way is merged with pedestrian way as a shared way icon elsewhere. Suitcase icons are replaced with trolleys.

‘If your dog poops, you scoop’ like icons surfaced now and then.

Whenever or wherever they appear, icons are only extensions of language; any natural language. So, does the English idiom ‘play a good knife and fork’ remind you of any icon?

ReeDay

Reeday

Creating identity for a battery company that believes it can and will change the way people perceive power.

ReeDay is a battery manufacturer who approached us for designing a logo and cracking a tagline. So we gave our grey cells a jolt and got down to the task. Used a bold font to denote the power-packed product and its mighty impact. The alphabet is slightly inclined forward to denote how they are future-ready. It’s in blue to denote that the product is trustworthy and intelligent – totally ahead of the curve. And the tagline – Ree-imagine Power – is to help people switch their imagination of power from AC to DC, and to bring to light a company that’s constantly reinventing the battery, shrinking its size and boosting its strength.

Until everybody knows that everybody knows.

Marks + Methods Blog Post
Marks + Methods Blog Post

Until everybody knows that everybody knows.

In 2006, an american activist started a campaign to ‘empower through empathy’ among coloured women who have been sexually abused. After a decade, in 2011, a Hollywood actress took the campaign to twitter and tweeted about sexual harrassment and assault she had experienced in her workplace. The one hashtag she used in her tweets had propelled the campaign into the world. In just one day, the hashtag she used had been seen over 200,000 times online and had been tweeted more than 500,000 times. It is the #MeToo campaign, which stirred work cultures and social patterns all over the world and even after a year, it is still in the air.

In early 2011, 30 year dictatorial regime in Egypt came to an end with huge protests all over the country. It was a revolution which happened in 18 days and had reversed everything that came in its way. Millions of people protested and marched along the streets incessantly. Surprisingly, most of them were informed about those gatherings and events through one platform mainly which is a facebook page (created a few months before this). Atleast half of the protesters used facebook and more than thirty percent of them knew about those demonstrations through this social networking site, in which thousands of such pages mushroomed in hours.

These two incidents have nothing to tell us about brands but they can show us the fundamental communication-fabric by providing insights into a question brand owners grapple with – How does a brand message transmit in digital media. How we communicate with a brand and how we share those experiences on digital platforms are what stand around the core of digital branding. While a strong brand message can catapult a brand to furthest reaches of possibility, only visibility can give it watershed moments all along its journey.

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Following each thread in this communication fabric we mapped the journey of a message in social networks, which we articulated as the Brand Visibility Map. It is a strategy which tries to identify different clusters of people on social networks who collectively make the target audience of a brand. If we read the map from the tail end, we can see that large groups of people (Followers) are connected to a few people (Proponents) and these few people are further connected to fewer individuals (Catalysts). The roles of proponents and catalysts consolidate a brand message, individually. Apparently, the function of Proponents appear more decisive and enduring.

Marks + Methods brand visibility map

It took a decade and a catalyst (actress) for #MeToo like message, which is for social change, to reach wider audience. The outspoken women (proponents) took it further and inspired a million others. Likewise, a facebook page acted as a catalyst by informing about the wrong doings of the regime in Egypt and inspired all to protest. However, the pivotal role in both the incidents is of the proponents as they mobilized millions of followers. Proponents are the people who are present in different audience clusters. They are linked to the catalyst as well as the followers. Proponents are those who are active in social networks and whose activity can influence the decision and opinion of the many followers. So, a like or share by a proponent in a social network page could impact a few followers, all at once. Therefore, proponents carry a reliable stature in digital media. Connectors do not exibit such influential characters but they are capable enough to grab attention. This is observed clearly in FMCG sector where celebrities (Catalysts) endorse a brand. However, more consumers (Followers) choose a brand not because a celebrity endorsed it but because someone reliable in their acquaintances (Proponents) had used, commented on or recommend a product and eventually all the others jump on the bandwagon.

Sometimes, the Catalyst’s role is taken by brands too to bypass a barrier and directly communicate with the proponents. By reaching out to a number of proponents at the same time, it is easier to reach a million followers. If a brand message is directed towards a hundred proponents, it is implied that each proponent can relay that message to a thousand followers without a break in the chain and as these hundred people are connected with people like themselves and also many followers, the message travels in loops. This is why we see a brand message more than twice or thrice. However, this can be applied in digital platforms only.

With emphasis on impact over innovation, the ‘Brand Visibility Map’ had been formulated with sociological and psychological grounding. This model tries to define the target audience lucidly. To make sure that everybody knows about a brand, we employ visibility. To make sure that everybody knows that everybody knows, we use the Brand Visibility Map.

No-brands saw a future overlooking the past

No-brands saw a future overlooking the past.

Beauty of style and harmony and grace and good rhythm depend on simplicity – is a statement made by Plato, more than two thousand years ago. If it wasn’t true, it must’ve been forgotten after at least a few centuries. If it is true, it must’ve been followed by many. Neither happened.

(a) Our philosophy is based on three core principles, which remain unchanged to this day: Selection of materials, Streamlining of processes, Simplification of packages. Our products are succinct, but they are not in the minimalist style. They are like empty vessels. Simplicity and emptiness yield the ultimate universality, embracing the feelings and thoughts of all people. We do not make objects to entice responses of strong affinity, like, ‘This is what I really want’ or, ‘I must have this.’ Our goal is to give customers a rational satisfaction, expressed with “This will do.”

(b) Our sourcing philosophy is simple: better for people, better for the planet. We value curation and focus. Less is more. Less but better. We value things that are easy to use and understand. We’re committed to reducing our impact on the environment. For us it’s about progress, not perfection. Across all of our product categories, we have focused on ‘Just What Matters’ for that specific category. We listen to our community. This is a win-win: high- quality stuff for you and a donation for another in need.

Among the many types of brands, no-brands have a subtly quirky appearance because they do not appear everywhere. They do not surprise you in magazines. Their adverts are silent. They do not expect queues outside their stores. No flagship products too. They do not leave labels or marks on their products overtly. All they possess and express is creativity and consistency.

The above two paragraphs (a & b) are excerpts from brand descriptions of two no-brands, which are widely known among the few peoples who look out for such brands. These clusters of consumers are identified to be the ones who choose function over brand badges. They too are like the billion others, but their choice of brands depends on the invisibility of the brands they use. They pick brands which do not possess self-expressive benefits. So, such consumers would buy a luxury car like Lexus even without the iconic grille or an iphone without the bitten apple.

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Clothing collection completely in bland colours, 90 degree socks, wrist-watch with a plain dial, simple storage units, moisturizers which put ‘cruelty free & sulphate free’ instead of a logo, unbleached-paper bags – likewise, they appear different in & out. While all their competitors are selling the same moisturizer saying it will protect and nourish the skin which thereby results in enhanced self-confidence and beter performance at the work place, no-brands still sell it by saying that it protects the skin, only. They talk the bare minimum yet fulfil the bare essentials, which is why these brands are able to grow slowly and slowly with maximum customer retention. These consumers employ these brands like counter signalling tools making it difficult to comprehend their personality traits. So, regret in choice, which is a common consumer behaviour trait, is nearly absent in these consumers.

No-brands came as a consequence of excessive branding activities all over the world. Before the modern branding revolution, which took off in the mid 1900s, buying and selling was carried out on more or less the same principles which no-brands have imbibed today. Extravagant branding left the industry with significant losses and the generics breathed into the daily lives of the masses. Over a few decades, the generics, which like no-brands do not carry a logo or a name or an identity, have been rejected by people. Brands took over again slowly thereafter. The frills and decorations around branded goods got revived with more subtlety. However, no-brands chose a more democratic way of doing business by identifying people who chase away loudness and chaos while embracing function and satisfaction. With such an overarching goal, these brands have achieved sustainability and consistency.

The future of these brands is simple, as they describe themselves. They would maintain a strictly narrow product line. People would not flock to the stores. Yet their presence is so promising that more such brands could emerge or a few other brands could revamp their branding principles like no-brands.

Brand behaviour as the new catalyst of branding.

Brand behaviour as the new catalyst of branding.

Ms. M is a 48 year old chef. She closes the kitchen by 10 at night. Before driving home, she smokes a cigarette on the rooftop. On the way back home, she sometimes picks up groceries and other supplies from a supermarket. She spends only twenty minutes going around and picking the ones she uses regularly. After going home, she usually watches late night talk shows while checking messages in the bed. This is her life.

The cigarette she smokes, the car she drives, the supermarket, the toothpaste, ketchup and the shampoo she uses, the jeans and shoes she wears, the goggles she puts on, the lipstick she wears, the faucet in her kitchen, her handbag, her smartphone and even the zipper of her pants – every little or big and important or essential thing is made by a brand. This is the life we see around her. She wakes up to a brandscape (like a landscape) everyday.

People choose only a few brands and let them occupy their lives. This choice doesn’t happen in a jab because it involves less of selling and more of buying and at 48, we don’t make choices like when we were 28. For sure, it might have taken Ms. M more than a decade or so to settle down with a few brands when she can choose from a hundred other options anytime. What helped her make a decision that suits her future? It is certainly the brand behaviour.

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We at M+M, studied the in-betweens of brands and consumers. We did our know-do-feel exercise in different ways over and over again on several brands and identified that brand behaviour is the prerequisite to consumer behaviour. Consumers can be identified as groups of different archetypes. Some look for trend-right products while some search for those that are oblivious to trends. They pay attention to only a few brands. Some brands do not advertise and some do extensively. Some brands open outlets only in high-streets. A few brands behave like team players and a few like individual athletes. Some always occupy the most preferred shelf in the store and some stay in the less viewed shelves.

A set of consumers have a habit of fishing out the less know brands. They shop that way. Another set gravitates towards brands that do eccentric ads. Some like surprises while some hate them especially when it comes from brands. Most of the brands are vocalic about their nature while a few remain silent. Some brands are respected while some are embraced. All these are brand behaviours which can alter the zeroeth moment of truth. The buying cycles of people involve a lot of time gaps and it is then when they get to observe and experience the brand as a whole which includes it emotional and functional benefits. While this is the tail end, the head starts with advertising and branding. Advertising lets know people while branding can help them remember. Both are cogs in the same machine.

Consumer behaviour helps a brand know its customer better. Behaviour is what one does and says. Brands do a lot and say a lot too, through ads, package, the language they use, the name they carry and the consumer needs they address. It is the basis on which people describe brands and products as innovative or stylish or better functioning or as moonshot. So, this brand behaviour helps the consumers build an identity of the firm which is trying to carry a dialogue with them. The audiences try to know who the speaker is before participating in the dialogue.

Brand behaviour has several sprints to run in the near future as service based brands are increasingly valued on par with product based brands. The behavioural patterns of brands are expected to be consistent even after the consumer makes the choice in the days to come, so that brands make room for experience. So, a bank might consider its customers more valuable than its reserves and starts to stay in touch with them like a well-wisher. A transport network company might shift its interests towards passengers’ safety. OS providers might start respecting privacy.

Not only at a personal level, brands are using this as a catalyst in their transformation, with a universal humane touch. Today, this is seen overtly among all global brands. We have seen automobile firms talking about climate change and many other brands belonging to diverse markets have fused rainbows with their logos in support of LGBT rights. No monsoon had ever seen so many rainbows. The catalyst seems to be working.