Thursday, February 21, 2008

Scribbles from the Tissue Roll # 2

I was wondering if vigorous bowel movement has anything got to do with great ideas. I've seen you invariably get some of your best ideas when you're alone and lonely inside the loo, sitting on a shit pot. Jokes apart, lightening struck me once again last evening when I was cleaning up my alimentary canal.

I was thinking about the changing face of Indian out-of-home media, ambient media, billboards and communication in general. Maybe my sub-conscious mind was silently working on the huge billboards of Chennai as the pressure inside my arse started rising. And then I drifted to urban chaos, visual clutter and architecture. How the charming face of a city can change with irresponsible advertising? How does a urban development planning department of Govt. tackle these issues? Is pulling down billboards a right solution? Etc. etc.

Architecture has defined humanity for ages. It has helped define culture, communities. It has helped define people and places. It has created icons and landmarks. Architecture has created awe-inspiring wonders. Monuments and buildings that stand tall for centuries to tell us a story.

Which brings me to the question - What are the learnings from architecture that we can use in brand building and outdoor communication?

Let's take Absolut Vodka as an example. For years they have invested in creating an icon out of the Absolut bottle. They have done some brilliant outdoor campaigns but in the process they've also added to the visual clutter of a city. However they never thought that "In an Absolut World" they should be doing something beyond billboards.

'In an Absolut World' all your offices across the world should look something like this:

You don't need billboards once you have created this, right? You don't create clutter but add to the aesthetics of your urban landscape. It can become the greatest communication ever possible by Absolut. An icon that will remain forever on the face of earth. Now don't ask me about the construction cost, ROI etc. Those are immaterial if you love your bottle so much. Or maybe Coca Cola should think of doing the same for their HQ at Atlanta. You might argue, isn't this the same thing what BMW Towers has done in Germany and Nike Town in the US? Well, similar but way beyond.

Let me give you another example - Taj Mahal Tea from the house of Levers can do so much more. India is infested with tea stalls all over the place. How about creating Taj Mahal tea stalls like the picture below.

My poor photoshop skills but if executed well, I assure you, it'll make the brand more interesting and exciting.

So all said and done "potty thoughts" is not always crap, eh?



Cynical Rob said...

There's part of me that loves this idea and part of me who hates it.

[Though I adore 'scribbles from tissues', ha!]

The thing is, whilst the Absolut bottle is understated and elegant so would stand out in city skylines without bordering on total visual pollution, the majority of brands don't follow the same rules and if we're not careful, we're going to end up with even greater brand encroachment in people's lives which ultimately makes it more likely a brand alienates people rather than attracts.

It's a tough one - in the right circumstances it could be brilliant [like the Prada store in Tokyo - though that isn't made to look like a product the brand makes, just to represent the values] however in this World of corporate ego, I fear for every Absolut, we'd be repulsed with a 1,000 Campbell's soup.

Really interesting post.

pooR_Planner said...

Agree with you completely that not all brands can do this but I was actually thinking what are the ways architecture can help the process of brand building and communication without actually adding up to the visual clutter.

But completely agree with you.

Helge said...

Architecture and branding have a lot to do with each other, I have been loking into it on a project lately concerning choosing office location (On a much smaller scale than actually building a house).

Turns out that where the old “secret” of choosing office location was “location, location, location” it is slowly turning to choosing location based on the positive effect the location will have on your brand.

Especially is this concerning what is defined as “symbolic building”, a building (much like your vodkabottle) which is both unique and differentiating and putting it into context with the brand will creative positive values.

The ironic thing being of course that where as the modern western world has become overly focused on symbolic buildings they are not what sustains a vibrant and social environment (which we seek and reap the rewards of in the end). What is the most important factor is public spaces and the ancient tradition of building your city around a buzzing public plaza.

Listen here to James Howard Kunstler “the tragedy of suburbia” talking about sense of place and the American destruction of suburbia:

pooR_Planner said...

Thanks Helge for dropping by. Indeed architecture and branding has lot to do with each other. As communication professionals our focus has always been on effective useage of media, whereas we haven't actually understood the role of space and its effective useage (am not speaking of interior design here)in brand communication. However things are changing. In the west, Symbolic buildings has always been about celebrating architects and designers and seldom has any brand taken a giant leap in creating/ designing space that creates value for their brand. The Apple Store or the new Nokia store in London or the Prada store in Tokyo are great examples of creating brand value using architecture as a communication tool. I think in the future brands need to look in to these areas.

Mansi Trivedi said...

Hahahaha! Thanks for a good start for my week. Interesting post.

But I see the 'brand transformed into an architectural wonder' idea as a tattoo that you get on an impulse and you look at it every single day and you get saturated looking at it.

I think it suits some brands and would be a bad decision for some. There would be a "worn out" feeling attached to it. Agree?

On the other hand, Apple store in NYC is awesome and has become a tourist spot. But Yahoo has a great office, great architecture but it hasn't helped the brand at all.

But all in all, a great thought. So glad you brought it up. Thought-provoking.

pooR_Planner said...

Thanks Mansi. I do agree it will be saturated but the ROI will be much much higher than any ad campaign can every yield I guess. What say?

Hope you're better now?