Posts tagged ‘branding’

Taking collaboration in successful stride.

In building brand awareness and reaching a larger target market, collaborations have historically proved to be a successful tool and marketing strategy. One of the product categories to best utilize and execute collaborations has been footwear, particularly athletic shoes. Athletic shoes historically have been seen as a utilitarian object – used primarily for exercise, or daily casual wear. That is until they started marketing themselves as collectible pieces, similar to Carrie Bradshaw’s iconic Manolo Blahnik collection on Sex and the City.

Sneaker collecting became a mainstream trend when Nike and Michael Jordan introduced Air Jordans in 1985. Since then, most sneaker brands have experimented with various collaborations but there are three brands in particular that have been most successful in utilizing their collaboration to reach a completely new audience – Puma, Converse and Reebok.

Puma first partnered with the highly conceptual fashion designer and filmmaker Hussein Chalayan in 2008 by becoming a majority stakeholder of his business and appointing him as their Creative Director. Since then, they’ve launched Puma Black Label and have partnered with various other high profile fashion designers such as the late Alexander McQueen. The partnership with Hussein Chalayan is particularly successful in that he is able to blend his own conceptual and innovative design thinking with Puma’s sleek, minimalistic style and experiment in different materials and shapes that are non-traditional for athletic wear. This brings a more fashion-conscious and trend-oriented consumer to Puma and gives Chalayan a new ready-to-wear market to grow his own brand recognition.

image via

Converse has also been incredibly innovative in their collaboration partners, particularly with embracing the materiality of their shoes (they are canvas based unlike the leather or man-made materials of their competitors). They brilliantly partnered with textile and pattern experts Marimekko and Missoni. Finnish based design brand Marimekko is particularly famous for printing on rough textured fabric and bringing this very basic material into a high fashion context, which is exactly what they did for Converse. The collaboration between Converse and Marimekko combines both an iconic American brand with an iconic European brand, therefore expanding both to a global audience and it brings together high fashion, basic materials and functionality in a beautiful new product.

image via

Reebok just launched their collaboration with the Keith Haring Foundation, a project I was personally involved with. Reebok has been collaborated in the past with iconic artists like Jean-Michel Basquiat and Ryan McGinness and this collection is a natural expansion and a very strategic way for them to embrace the history of the company. Reebok’s brand awareness and popularity peaked in the 1980’s and by working with an iconic artist from that period they are able to build off their impact during that era while using contemporary manufacturing methods to create shoes that really push the boundaries of both art and sneakers by having removable pieces and 3D elements. These shoes are truly collector’s pieces that are must-haves for both the art community and sneaker collectors.

image via

Footwear companies have really figured out how to do collaborations successfully for both brands involved. Other product categories are starting to experiment with collaborations as a marketing tool and some are doing so more successfully than others. It will be interesting to see moving forward how this strategy affects long term brand building and awareness, and how it can help brands expand their global reach.


May 27, 2013 at 12:29 pm Leave a comment

Expanding the scope of brand impact.

via Co.Exist (January 1, 2012):

What’s the trick to making a brand meaningful? Focus on outcomes, not outputs. The criteria, says Haque [director of the Havas Media Labs and HBR blogger], are simple: “Did this brand make you fitter, wiser, smarter, closer? Did it improve your personal outcomes? Did it improve your community outcomes? Did it pollute the environment? We’re trying to get beyond ‘did this company make a slightly better product’ to the more resonant, meaningful question: ‘Did this brand actually impact your life in a tangible, lasting, and positive way?'”

Haque cites Nike+ as a prime example. “Instead of putting up another campaign of billboards with celebrities saying ‘Buy our shoes, they’ll turn you into a master runner,’ Nike+ actually helps makes you a better runner. That’s a constructive way to build a meaningful brand.”

image by Flickr user Mathieu Thouvenin

March 8’s daily design idea is consumers have long demanded (and received) positive impact from the strongest and most meaningful brands, but the impact that we’re demanding now is extending far beyond ourselves. Exciting!

For even more insight from Co.Exist on consumers’ growing expectations for businesses, check out the article “The Three Ages of Socially Responsible Business.”

March 8, 2012 at 11:52 am Leave a comment

Spotted: Coca Cola mixes red with green.

It was surprisingly and refreshing (no pun intended) to see this delivery truck the other day:

photo by Gisela Garrett

Not only am I thrilled that Coca Cola is doing their part to lower emissions and generally be more fuel-efficient in the delivery of their product, I’m glad that the trucks got to keep a distinctly Coca-Cola visual identity. It would have been a shame to lose the iconic red for a less recognizable (and overdone) green color.

March 7’s daily design idea is embracing new practices and maintaining your core identity are not mutually exclusive. Kudos to Coke for trying to have it all.

March 7, 2012 at 10:01 pm Leave a comment

The (re)positioning of public transportation.

Chris Whitcomb, Communications Manager at Cannon Design, recently brought my attention to the Co.Design article “How Do You Wean People Off Cars? By Rebranding Bikes and Buses.” As Whitcomb notes in his recap of the article, “How we perceive the use of these public [transportation] systems is arguably as important as how well they work.”

One idea for re-positioning public transportation is to make driving seem like a less interactive (and less fun) option. Some efforts already exist in support of this, such as the yearly Park(ing) Day celebration, colorful bike additions like Contrail, or even tools like that readily show the amenities available in walkable neighborhoods.

image of Park(ing) Day in Minneapolis from 2009 by Flickr user Sveden

image of Park(ing) Day in San Francisco in 2010 by Flickr user Steve Rhodes

Experimentation with classic forms also draws a certain amount of celebratory attention to transportation alternatives, for example the bicycle. That’s not to say that unattractive forms don’t have their benefit as well; just ask Dublin about their bike sharing program.

February 20’s daily design idea is regardless of how it’s ultimately repositioned, public transportation should be the city dweller’s focus and not his or her alternative. What efforts have you seen that are helping to make public transportation people’s preference?

February 20, 2012 at 3:41 pm Leave a comment

Can you measure innovation?

Today, Fast Company’s Co. Design published an article by Paul Valerio, Principal of Insights at Method (which is currently doing a whole series of articles for Co. Design). The article is called “Eight Things Stand-Up Comedy Teaches Us About Innovation” and is a delightfully tongue-in-cheek comparison between successful product innovation and stand-up comedy. In Valerio’s words, “Innovation, like comedy, is a messy, often counter-intuitive business. It’s an iterative loop of creation, feedback, revision, rejection, and creation again. Used correctly, research fuels the understanding that leads to real breakthroughs. In the wrong hands, it all but assures the death of originality.”

I believe in the value of market research and focus groups, but I also know that the best designers have excellent design intuition. You only need to remind me of the recent Tropicana rebrand and failed packaging for me to concede that research isn’t as reliable as we’d like it to be. Valerio makes this fact all the more clear by pointing out that the opposite is also true: “Herman Miller’s Aeron chair and the Seinfeld pilot bombed in research” despite both being huge successes with consumers when introduced into the market.

Herman Miller’s Aeron chair, a huge success despite poor results in preliminary consumer research testing

All that said, I still believe in research and – even more importantly – in documentation of your successful innovations. Whether it’s visitorship and membership rates, community responses and user satisfaction feedback, or how much graffiti appears on a newly built structure, clients are already trying to measure the return on their design investments (see “Prove Your Design Has Value” published January 3, 2011 in Architect magazine). In my opinion, it’s definitely time for designers to start regularly including a diversity of metrics in their project documentation as well.

Aurthur Buxton shows us the five most common colors in 28 of Van Gogh’s paintings, by relative percentage: one not-so-soft metric for starting to understand these paintings (plus it’s a great piece of art on its own)

March 3’s daily design idea is while it’s unclear how to measure innovation, measuring the effects and performance of your work is more straightforward (and it will help create credible support for your innovative-ness). So ladies and gentlemen, start your measuring!

March 3, 2011 at 11:12 am 1 comment

3×3 with Ground Up Designers LLC.

Ground Up Designers is an interdisciplinary design studio based in Brooklyn, New York, founded by Lana Zellner [Architectural Designer], Kristen Svorka [Interior Designer], and Tayef Farrar [Multimedia-Graphic Designer] that offers design solutions incorporating architectural, interior and product design, in addition to print, web and multimedia graphics.

A screen shot from the Ground Up Designers website.

What do you design?
The name Ground Up Designers comes from our interest in working with small business owners looking for design consultation on everything “from the ground up”. Focusing on all aspects that go into designing a successful business, we provide clients with attractive, unique and fully functional spaces, as well as one-of-a-kind, comprehensive brand identities.  Being a small yet versatile design studio, the independent business owner is our ideal client; someone looking to open a retail store, café, or restaurant who wants one cohesive design package.

We also just completed and published a book titled Built & Branded, which focuses on two main categories of design: architectural/ interior design (the design of the built environment) and graphics/ print / web design (the design of the brand identity) and highlights some of our favorite Brooklyn-based businesses on their success in establishing a strong visual identity through the design of their space, a clever branding strategy, or both.

Built & Branded on display with other Ground Up merchandise at a recent Brooklyn event.

How do you design?
The three of us really enjoy and benefit from working together, so much of the design process is done as a joint collaboration.  Whereas most studios split projects between team members, we prefer to work as a group as much as possible.  Having trained in a variety of backgrounds allows each of us to bring new and different insight to a project, which we believe makes our work more well-rounded and successful than it would be otherwise.

Mix Match Lamp, one item in the upcoming Ground Up product line.

Why do you design?
We started Ground Up Designers because we realized the need for a design studio that can provide companies with full and comprehensive brand identities. When starting a business, most owners hire multiple professionals (an interior designer for the design of their space, a graphic designer for their logo and a web designer for their website) and this often results in lots of logistical headaches and a disjointed and unclear brand identity. Hiring one company to handle all aspects of the design ensures that the client will receive a complete and cohesive package. It also results in a fully satisfying design process for us, since we enjoy working on the entire scope of a project rather than just a small part. We’re control freaks. We can’t help it.

December 20’s daily design idea is be more like the G’s: identify ideal clients, find great collaborators, and rock your niche.

You can find, contact, and follow Ground Up Designers online!

December 20, 2010 at 8:25 pm Leave a comment

Telling it like it is.

I’m a big fan of efficiency in the design process, but straight-shooting creative geniuses seem to be few and far between. To honor the ones that do exist, here are some fun examples of to-the-point creativity and design:

1. State of the Obvious (S/O/T/O)
State of the Obvious is a collection of apparel and products is by Mash Creative, a British branding and design studio. The line’s visual identity is based on extraordinarily direct communication, a rather underrepresented approach in most consumer markets right now. Pieces from the S/O/T/O collection are available to buy from:,, and

2. Bad British Architecture
Here on Daily Design Idea, I like to share and celebrate successes in the design world (as well as information and ideas that could lead to more successes!), but I would be lying if I said that I didn’t get a kick out of Bad British Architecture, written (semi-)anonymously by a blogger who proclaims “I hate how noone ever talks about how bad British architecture really is. I hate the bastards who make these buildings. So here I am, taking the piss out of them.” I don’t always agree with BBA, but the writing is pretty hysterical. The most recent project featured (which, from the pictures, does seem rather bad) is The Blade by Sheppard Robson.

image via Flickr user kpmarek

3. Good Fucking Design Advice
The site’s motto is “Because sometimes, being your own worst critic is not enough.” It’s literally just pages of tough love and funny-cause-it’s-true advice. And if all the f-bombs feel a bit intense, you could always try switching to “Family Fucking Friendly” mode.

December 17’s daily design idea is don’t let your work get over-designed or overly complicated. Check Occam’s razor for more along those lines.

December 17, 2010 at 3:08 pm Leave a comment

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