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"WeListen" Blog

The Brand Without a Product

Hipper-than-thou (Über-hip?) branding project “Hessian” is making the rounds on design blogs this week. What is Hessian? It’s whatever you want it to be. (Mind-blowing, right?) The brainchild of freelance designer Ben Pieratt, the Hessian brand, logo, print materials and associated social media presence can be yours for $18,000. Just apply the branding to your own company, regardless of what it is or does, and presto! You’re off the ground with a full identity—without any pesky research getting in the way.

Hessian Brand Identity by Ben Pieratt

Props to Pieratt for taking the plunge to elevate the horrifying world of stock logos to boutique-quality levels. In doing so, he poses some interesting questions about the role of good design and fresh ideas in a landscape where analytics, testing and scrutiny rule the day. The problem is, by divorcing the branding from the product, the design loses any real, honest connection with consumers and becomes window-dressing. Nike’s “swoosh” is okay as a mark, but it derives its real resonance from decades of fulfilling a meaningful promise to consumers. The brand supports (reinforces?) the product, and the product uplifts the brand. Style and substance.

Hessian is cool, no doubt about it. It’s a glorious move in rock star self-promotion for Piratt, who’s confident enough to present his art: take-it-or-leave-it. And maybe Hessian’s geometric/retro/modern style is a PERFECT fit for your new start-up. But in a world where newsfeeds, advertising, music playlists and burritos are customizable, would you buy your entire identity off the rack?

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