July 10, 2007

Super Normal Brands

I stumbled upon an article discovering the design philosophie of Jasper Morrison (http://www.jaspermorrison.com/html/index.html) recently and what he has to say about design is very similar to a lot of the tendencies we see in communication and among brands these days.

Morrison’s main belief is that he - and people in general - are growing tired of an over designed world, where anything is put through the big branding and lifestyle machinery. He wants simple usable design without al the colours, attitudes and attention seeking surprise elements.

He and Japanese designer Naoto Fukasawa has coined the term Super Normal. Super Normal is something that’s normal, yet very special.

(It’s all explained here:
http://2021supernormal.wordpress.com/about/ , and you can see more on flickr here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/tags/supernormal/)

If we took his philosophies to the world of communication and brands, I think it could be a great way of explaining a lot of the tendencies driving through the more successful part of the brand landscape.

The brands that are not driven by differentiation through big ad concepts, but brands that has taken another approach often with smaller budgets and proximity to their customers.

Super Normal brands could be those who are - doing the normal real well – by being:

Function more than form
Interacting (and inviting consumers to participate)
Utility based
Honest & transparent
Sustainable and CSR oriented (not just greenwashing)
Folksy (as John Grant put’s it)

I think Super Normal applies to brands like:

American Apparel
Vitamin Water
Ben & Jerry’s
Apple (they are also of other things than Super Normal)
Micro Breweries (in general)
Most of the Web 2.0 companies from Flickr to Facebook.

And then lot's and lot's of others.

Off course everyone can't be super normal and everyone shouldn’t be – but, I think there are still a lot of opportunities in this belief and approach.