Design and thinking. Sometimes together.


Branding is thinking made real. Here are some thoughts on design, branding and other miscellany.

All That Shines


I received a little lesson that all that shines is not gold recently. Locally there is a French restaurant that has gone through something of a re-branding without changing any of it's surface details. It put the word Bistro on the front, changed the menu and pricing in the most minimal of ways, and suggested that they had brought a more casual vibe to their dining experience.The economy was a backdrop to the change, the thinking being that a more casual place would appeal to more folks in these times of expanding waistbands but tighter belts.

Let it be said that this was a well established, loved and lauded local establishment. They changed nothing about what was an already wonderfully romantic, chic, Cassablancaesque atmoshpere. The table linens, the paint, the silverware, was all there. And while they stuck Bistro on the front of their name in ads, the sign out front didn't say a thing about it. Seemingly nothing had changed.

Shining The Turd

But somehow everything changed. The waiters weren't helpful, many dishes were unavailable, and the casual atmosphere was painfully not casual. What actually was happening was a dumbed down version of what it was before.

This is shining the turd in reverse. Whatever that would be. Tarnishing the bowl? Either way it can help to illustrate two things. First what design can and can't do for a brand. Secondly, it shows that while designers are often asked to make lemonade from lemons, consumers can very quickly taste the bitterness in their mouths. Design is the opening salvo in communicating what the brand is about. The rest is up to the nuts and bolts of the company behind the brand. Billing, shipping, operations, receptionists and the like are much more powerful impacts on the perception of the brand than a logo. It's got to all be shinola, and it can't be shit and shinola, else wise everything falls apart.