Tag Archives: BRAND

WHAT IS YOUR BRAND?

June 24, 2022

Architecture by Zaha Hadid – upper left: Vitra Fire Station, Weil am Rhein, Germany; upper right: Library and Learning Centre University of Economics, Vienna, Austria; lower right: MAXXI: Museum of XXI Century Arts, Rome, Italy; lower right: Evelyn Grace Academy, London, England (photos from www.re-thinkingthefuture.com)

Whether a company, institution, or even an individual, it is imperative to establish a brand—a distinct identity, a unique look and feel that distinguishes from others. But whereas branding can help to establish a foothold in the marketplace, does it limit evolution of self?

Our retail and hospitality clients call their brand, “trade dress.” A corporation might brand their company identity through the enactment of a mission statement. However one’s brand is created and implemented, it can offer a road map, and others can join this journey knowing where they are going. Speak the company names of Apple, BMW, Disney, or McDonald’s, and everyone has a sense of that company’s brand, what they pitch, what is sold, and who we as customers consume.

2014 Porsche Panamera S (photo from motorauthority.com)

On the other hand, an established brand can be like a straitjacket, restraining deviation and exploration that might lead to new opportunities. When Porsche, an automaker known for German efficiency and lean design, presented the Panamera, customers were baffled. This hulking sedan—more akin to an over-stuffed luxury vehicle than the agile Carrera—startled some, wondering what happen to the brand of Porsche. Was it risk-taking evolution or misguided brand confusion? The term “off-brand” reverberated in the halls of criticism.

Art by Patrick Nagel – left to right: Untitled (photo from artsandcollections.com); Untitled (photo from dreamboatsandhose.wordpress.com); Commemorative #10 (photo from 1stdibs.com); Jennifer Dumas (photo from fineart.ha.com)

In art, consider the commercially successful works like Patrick Nagel’s soft-porn, male-fantasy caricatures (above) or Robert Longo’s thrashing individuals in business attire (below). Such art have reaped great exposure over the decades, from leading the pop culture zeitgeist to expanding in niche communities, to relishing a Renaissance of mainstream market presence. Some argue that the work, and that of many artists, look the same. But in the context of branding, repetition is not necessarily a bad thing, as it results in recognizability.

Art by Robert Longo – Blonde one: Barbara (photo from fineartmultiple.com)
Man leaning back: Untitled (photo from pacegallery.com)
Women with hands over face: Cindy (photo from whitney.org)
Untitled (photo from redbubble.com)

In architecture, companies big and small are branded as well. Some architects have developed a brand as a formulaic visual style. Others have branded their design process or a model of customer service. In the sphere of artistry, being predictable could be a death blow. But at times, cookie cutter processes can make for good business.

Architecture by Richard Meier – top left: Barcelona Musuem of Contemporary Art, Barcelona, Spain (photo by Alexie Bague, Plane-Site); top right: The Atheneum, New Harmony, Indiana (photo from archdaily.com); bottom left: Swissair North American Headquarters, Melville, New York (photo from rmparchives.xyz); bottom right: Museum Frieder Burda, Baden-Baden, Germany (photo from facebook.com/friederburda)

When an architect like Frank Gehry or Richard Meier (above), or actually any number of well-known designers, approach a project with the same road map resulting in what the building will look like, such formulas are profitable through their efficiency. For example, Meier doesn’t need to explore all the paint colors offered to him. He already knows that his building will be some shade of white. In business, this kind of brand saves times and makes the production swift. Clients don’t question the results much because they know the brand, and even expect it. The pitch is simple and evident from the start.

Architecture by Michael Graves – top left: Engineering Research Center, University of Cincinnati, Ohio (photo from reddit.com): top right: Disney Headquarters, Burbank, California (photo from friendsofarch.photoshelter.com); lower left: Denver Central Library, Colorado (photo from pinterest.com/jann5068/christopher-wren); lower right: Hyatt Regency La Jolla at Aventine, La Jolla, San Diego (photo from travel.usnews.com)

Same can be said with Michael Graves and his Post-Modern creations (above), Zaha Hadid’s extraordinary sweeping forms (at top), or Frank Lloyd Wright’s Prairie style (at bottom) .

Architecture by Frank Lloyd Wright – upper left: Darwin D. Martin House, Buffalo, New York (photo from susancohangardens.com); upper right: Frederick C. Robie House, Chicago, Illinois (photo from architectmagazine.com); lower left: Allen House in Wichita, Kansas (photo from visitwichita.com); lower right: Schwartz House, Two Rivers, Wisconsin (photo from wrightinwisconsin.org)

But what about risks and experimentation? Evolution, artistic progress, improvisation —such things fuel the design journey, challenges the industry’s status quo, as well as internal agendas. Finding the right balance within the spectrum is the challenge—to create a brand that provides recognition and stability, while paving paths to an unknown future.

SOCIAL MEDIA IN A WORLD OF #DISCONNECTING

January 17, 2020

One of the most photographed and Instagrammed scenes in Los Angeles, the exterior pink wall at the Paul Smith boutique, Los Angeles, California (photo by Anthony Poon)

Is there purpose in social media for the industry of architecture? I have heard about the exposure an architect can get from incessant posting on Instagram, Facebook, Linked In, etc. But as colleagues brag about numerous followers and subscribers, I ask several questions: What is the currency of Insta followers? Is there tangible value beyond bragging rights? If anyone can simply buy anonymous followers (as in fake), does it matter whether you have 1,000 subscribers or 1 million?

Instagram: @anthonypoondesign and @anthonypoonart

A test of one’s authenticity is not the number of followers but the percentage of engagement. Meaning, for each post, how many followers respond, comment, and/or like? If only a tiny handful of your so-called one million followers engage with your post, this then is evidence that the high volume of seemingly excited fans doesn’t exist at all, probably purchased from an app and algorithm.

Linked In: Anthony Poon and Poon Design Inc.

At Poon Design Inc., we do participate in this universe of socials, not too actively, but we do. We feel that we have to, as we try to keep up with the Jones and their pretty pictures. We understand that a digital presence has some importance in establishing our brand. But who really follows the social media of architecture studios? We hope it is our clients, or maybe the teenage daughter of one our clients? Are our past clients Rick Caruso and Donald Bren personally surfing Instagram and Facebook every morning looking for architects to hire for their gazillion-dollar developments? Probably not.

Alongside the Paul Smith store (above), this is the other most photographed and Instagrammed scenes in Los Angeles, the lamp posts at Urban Light by Chris Burden, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, California (photo from Pinterest/Julianne)

One resulting evil of all this hoopla is what is referred to as the “Instagrammable Moment.” This is that one photograph, that one single moment that supposedly captures the essence of an entire architectural project. And such Instagrammable moments run rampantly redundant on the Internet, i.e. the lamp posts at LACMA or the pink wall of the Paul Smith boutique on Melrose. There is nothing wrong with a beautiful image, but is it superficial and even cruel to reduce the rich journey called architecture down to a single moment in time, a single visual gesture? Who reduces an entire novel to one sentence, for the mere purpose of easily-digestible PR? The additional problem is that some architects design their whole project with that one Instagrammable image in mind, as if nothing else matters.

Often seen on social media, the soaring and dynamic (and somewhat misleading) image of the U.S. Bank Stadium, Minneapolis, Minnesota (photo from archdaily.com)
The full story of the stadium looking clunky and clumsy in comparison to the Instagrammed image of soaring and dynamic architecture (photo from americanfootball.fandom.com)

So back to currency, what can an architect do with a “bank account” of followers? So far, other than the periodic amusement of posting a nice picture and seeing who comments, I personally haven’t figured out the value of all this commotion. Didn’t we all enjoy Facebook for a brief moment, only to now see that no one uses it anymore?

Facebook: Poon Design Inc.
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