iSad: Branding humour and its dark side

If you are not yet aware, Steve Jobs has died. Under his tight grip, the Apple brand and its derivatives became an integral part of modern culture. Inevitably, his appearances and statements were often diverted and distorted. His death is no exception. 

(Illustration from Boston Herald).

From the Brand Bible: “Maintaining a consistent brand identity has one massive benefit – recognition. That recognition leads to trust. People don’t like strangers (Gulp!) and certainly don’t like change. It upsets them, makes them uncomfortable”.

But “Branding” can be a double-edged sword, and if change and lack of consistency make people so uncomfortable, one wonders what counter-branding could make them feel. I would like to think that brand-builders spend most of their time not on the designs per Se but on thinking through all their potential distortions so as to anticipate negative and possibly damaging counterpunches.

Close to home, one can notice how the “UBC Central” brand has been savaged. The “Place of Mind your own business” counter-brand has been around for a while now, and we can already hear the “start an evolution without me” quips on campus. “PIMS” (for Pacific Institute for the Mathematical Sciences) was my own first foray into naming and branding. You can imagine the fertile ground for mockery and distortion.

But the Brand Bible could afford a new chapter (an epilogue?) with illustrations and all (such as the ones below) on when mockery becomes too distasteful, when irony becomes too dumb, when humor becomes too dark, and when branding becomes a bad joke.


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