Normally, well normal for me, I tend to use this blog to tell you my stories. A glimpses of how I approach the projects I make a thin crust from. Often taking the opportunity to celebrate some of the talented people I have had the good fortune to work with, and for. After all only the most arrogant claim all the credit for themselves.
But not this time. I want to put out a question. So please, yes, you at the back there, sit up straight and pay attention. I’m not doing all the work this time . . .
This morning I was drinking tea. Totally normal so far. I sipped as I panned the twitter stream for gold. The saucer disappeared under snail-mail. There was continuing discussion about the Olympics and in particular the branding. This debate is no longer designers’ critique on the design. No, it is mostly about the protection of the brand. Big Corporations with big investments to maximise as they align their products and services with the Olympic Ideal. Without sponsorship there would be games on a very different scale. If at all?
But what vexed so many on twitter was the clamp down on unauthorised use of the Olympic logo & branding. Teams of enforcement inspectors purging small traders apparently. Is a cornershop taking the time to make a fun window display to sell more Plimsolls really a threat to the Olympic brand? Now I naturally lean towards the little guy over corporate might. Not from a knee-jerk political stance – just common humanity. I downed more tea (Taylors of Harrogate, Yorkshire Tea, loose leaf, I recommend it) and what I pondered was the difference between imitation, fakes, homage and cultural reference. Earlier readers will recall I mentioned my brush with homage here. The obvious criminal abuse of branding is, well, obvious. But at what point does parody advance a brand by embedding it in the cultural landscape? Does spoof give free re-enforcement to product placement? And at what point does over-protection of brand license with a public event become counter-productive and paint the original brand as the bad guy?
I wondered what folk like The Brand Builder and the design/branding twitterati would think? More tea. I looked down. To my horror I realised I had nearly put the teacup down one more time . . .
Gasps! What would have happened to your humble blogger had he completed the refreshment manoeuvre? A china crisis or a storm in a teacup?
Should SWAT teams crash through his window from attack helicopters and drag him away to face the authorities?
Or have those Olympic rings just been a very successful logo?