Nation Branding : My place or yours – RIO

“National Branding is one of the most contentious political concepts of our time” (Ollins, 2002:150)

Throughout history, countries have been building up an image for themselves, creating, therefore, positive and negative stereotypes. As a country is stereotyped, it can suffer harmfully in trade, tourism, and exterior investments. Throughout the years, governments have realised the true importance of branding identity of the country, as a result, they started to create brand portfolios.

As I was reading about the topic discussed in the lecture, I could only think about Brazil, more specifically, Rio de Janeiro, as at the moment they have been using such branding principles to clean its image. For many decades Rio has only been known for football, cultural events (e.g Carnival), beaches, corruption and violence, as a result of all that, branding experts within the government began to modify the city’s image with the use of mega-events, such as the World cup and Olympics, to encourage investments from outside countries and power plays.

Even though we have seen countries with successful campaigns and comebacks (Spain 1975), the Brazilian government does not seem to apply the branding values successfully. They know their potential as a National asset, but the national government does not seem to manage accordingly for the country’s own profit. In agreement to the terms learnt in today’s lecture, I can see Rio dealing with hegemony, as with the mega-events they showcase power, abundance, peace and spectacles by simply sweeping the dirt under the carpet and as soon the international media and investors leave, everything comes back to light.

Rio de Janeiro is just one example from many others of a phenomenon that havebeen happening around the world for decades, where, by political and private sectors pressure, countries undergo to urban regeneration, gentrification, displacements, securitisation and privatisation of public places, which seeemingly looks positive for the citizens, however, it is only bringing gain to te countries investors, private corporations and government.


The Art of branding: From Pop Art to Art Pop

” In a Karaoke World, everything and everyone is for sale”  Malcolm Mclaren

In a world dealing with cultural revolution, suffering from social tensions, technological advances and change of values in society, artists began to manifest their sentiments for all that change in many different ways, one in particular that interested me was called Pop-Art, where artists would blur boundaries between Hi-culture and low-culture.

Pop-Art started with an artist called Andy Warhol, whom inspired by abstract expressionists, reintroduced an indentifiable imagery, which led to a significant change of direction of Modernism. Instead of creating traditional themes, pop artists focused mainly on commomplace objects and people of everyday life, with the aim to magnify the popular culture to a fine art level. Such artists used psychogeography, as through their art, they would trace emotional responses in the mediated world of advertising, media, cartoons and so on. It was interesting to learn that all the major artists from the movement were beforehand, very sucessfulillustrators and designers for magazines and private corporations, which makes me wonder what changed their minds to manifest themselves agaisnt it.

Throughout history, we can see that artists in general tend to express their feelings, emotions and ideals through what they create, Andy Warhol and his followers were not different, even though nowadays people were not entirely sure to why he would create such artwork, we can ask ourselves, were them representing the working class culture, elevating consumers goods to the status of hte luxury goods via art market process? or were them simply critiquing the capitalism and commercialisation that revolved in the American culture of the time?

Nevertheless, all their artwork, whether it was emotionally driven, politicaly driven, a simple manifestation or a protest against the mass culture, Pop art was one of the most influential movements of that time.

Branding Futures: Minimalism and Social media

“One of the reasons this branding dysphasia has spread so easily is that appears to be taken seriously by people who do not understand” (Thompson, 2004)

One specific topic spoken o that caught my attention was the following:

From the beginning of globalisation in the 1980s, the advances in the industry, technology and media, we can begin to view a significant encouragement towards consumerism and as Mclaren state “everything and everyone is for sale” (McLaren,2009). Branding personalities have become a huge deal in our modern culture, where the digital era thrives in promoting all kinds of people, such as Social media users, artists, politicians and so on. Governments and big corporations have realised the utter importance of Branding a persona. The United States of America is an excellent example of how the branding of a single person can change the view of a whole country. They shifted from fallen to rise as an Economic Potency. Using the image of Barack Obama as a superbrand, the United State citizens slowly erased from the media their bad image left from George Bush decisions and government. The Branding gurus, using slogans such as “YES WE CAN!”, together with product placement, virtual marketing and strategic brand alliences, The United State of America quickly turned their image around, simply by using branding values and principles.

In today’s lecture, we also learnt about corporate synergy, which by definition is when companies interact with each other to produce a total effect that is greater than of just one doing things alone. I personally think that when you join brand values with other companies will result in a better outcome in the future, more can be achieved when companies work together. Using people as brands are effective, however, it has its risks, whoever is branded with an image must stay true to its values, it fails to do so, it could result in a short-lasting success and could damage the brand identity permanently.

Field Research – Urban Outfitters – Week 2

My Analyses of Urban Outfitters:

This Shop is well-known in the Uk for its Trendy Clothes and items. As you look at the shop from outside, you can see that they promote themselves with whats happening in a particular season (e.g – summer clothes during the summer). The decoration and feel of the shop were Simple and Direct, in the front window, they placed in writing a few items they sell and some discounts at the time, promoting thereby their products before people go inside, they intend to persuade customer to get inside and check what was written and shown in the window display. The Structure was seemingly old, the architecture of the place gave the sense of an old culture, inside the shop was divided by gender, placing the cheaper items right at the front of the shop and the most expensive further away from the entrance. The Feeling of the place was that it is old, but also trendy and fashionable, the psychogeography of the place draws customer that has a particular sense of style and culture, as Urban Outfitters is a shop where they feel connected with, emotionally drawn into it. Near the Cashier, there was a wide range of random items, that whoever is waiting in the line is led to look at it while they wait and hopefully buy it too. The Staff was friendly, however, they looked busy, so they would not give you their whole attention, they were wearing the clothes that the shop sells, probably to promote the clothes in live “models”.  The environment they portray is very casual, dynamic and youthful. Analysing what I took from their shop,  I could say their message is that The old is still cool, it is still trendy and stylish to wear clothes that were more trendy thirty years ago. The benefits that people can get from this shop is culture and style, bringing something from the past to be alive again.

In my personal opinion, Urban Outfitters has a particular consumer, not everyone could go in and identify themselves with the shop, they have a public target with a unique style. The Brand takes elements from the early past and modernises for the youngsters of today. They are slightly overrated, however, as a brand, it is successful, their message, what they stand for is clear and well shown.

What is Branding – Week 1

“Branding is not Design and it is not marketing. Branding is as discipline we have to define” Rob Camper (2004:29)

In this section, I learned about the definition of Branding and the quote above really caught my attention, since, in my own personal opinion, Branding was much simpler. Because of this weeks section, I now see Branding as something more than just a logo, but also something that pertain to the entire ethos, aesthetic and behavioural manifestations of a Brand. It was interesting to learn the different types of Branding, such as Corporate commercial, Corporate non-commercial, Institutional and Personality. One type of Branding, in particular, was  a surprise to me, the Branding Personality, which is basically Creatives and celebrities, but also can be Ourselves and even God is considered a personally Branding.

In our Generation, with all the technological advance, all the social media platforms, people have been promoting themselves in many ways, via pictures, videos, Vlogs and so on. People are being defined on what they see on the internet. One great example of nowadays is the Youtube Vloggers, these people spend the whole day filming everything they do, making as interesting as possible, to promote themselves, get more likes, more followers and therefore, more money.

I never thought of myself as a brand, but after today’s section, after learning all the definitions and breaking down all the concepts of Branding, I could not agree more to say we truly are a Brand. Similarly to a Brand, we, as human beings, we stand for something, we believe in a cause, how we engage with others, the way we dress, the message we portray, how we communicate to others, All this makes us unique and it is what set us apart from others. For example, if I am a lawyer, the way I dress, the way I speak, the books I read, what I believe, it all defines who I am and what I do. Similarly to a Company, we communicate, we share, we believe, we sell ourselves to others, we all are truly Brands.

Design Thinking

Designers are mostly known for their role as problem-solvers, creative people that make the clients desire to come to life, although some designers fear that the art has become something systematic, design becoming a service and they also fear that the are only producers of something, of a brand, of a company, claiming that design is losing its true value and importance.

Nowadays, the art of Design has become something more accessible to the public, making professionals compete with non-designers, people that only know some technique, but do not understand the values and rules of design. In any creative field, at the end of the day, cares truly for one thing, the experience that art communicates to the viewers, so it is all about human experience. A poster design for example, for it to be considered effective, it must communicate tothe public in such a way that people have to stop what they are doing to see the poster, but how designers can make such achievment?

One particular way that helps creative people to achieve a target is called Double Diamond Design. First of all, if there is a problem, you must discover, to understand the problem and its roots, afterwards, the design must define the problem, identifying the problem he wants to solve. Then there is development, which is the search for different roots for a subject, seeing the options you have to see what you can design to solve the problem, lastly, the design must deliver, after looking at all possibilities, interviews, feedbacks, the designer must deliver an outcome, however, if any creative person follows the steps promply, the outcome will  most likely reach its target.

Within Design, if it is to be done properly, it must follow principles and rules, otherwise it will not reach the desired outcome.


Walking Tour

When it comes to experience centred design, there has got be the performance side of it. At the beginning of the module, the students were asked to do chores with their eyes closed, to see what they can perceive with their other senses.

This week, the tutor took the students for another experience. On a park, near the university, the students were asked to be in pairs, one whith their eyes shut, the other, being the guide. With this exercise, students had many options on how to guide others, if it was by touch or by speech, they had to find the one that worked better for both. As the students were walking, they could see the experince within the design in the streets, one great example shown by the tutor was the street floor that was different for visually impared people and also the stoplight, that has a knob under that button that rotates when the light is green. They also walked to a outdoor gym, seeing the different kind of equipment and how they were presented for the public, they saw a design that was inclusice, having equipment for people in wheelchair, and a design that was well conceptually made, being informative and simple at the same time, making the usage of  each equipment easier for everybody. It is interesting to see how design can be effective when it is propery produced, the  exercise equipments for example, because of its location, it had to be easilly acessible for any user, specially with those who are not familiar with it.

It is really important as creative people to design outcomes that are acessible and simple, designs that include, that are direct, that makes the users life less complicated by that outcome.

Harrods inside out

Harrods it is definitely not like any shopping center that can be found. The Experience within it is unique, providing to the costumer a personal experience involving every sense that they have.

From the outside, the building itself is memorable and exquisite, bringing a sense of a modern yet classic architecture that captivates your eyes, bringing then, visual satisfaction. As you enter the building, the first experience its grown at you its the smell of   perfumes that makes you feel different. Together with the smell, the exuberant classic architecture and the perfect groomed and dressed employees makes pleases the rational senses. As the journey continues, there are places inside that also captivates the animalistic senses such as taste when your enter the food premisses, containing food that it is not seen everyday by the average working class.

Harrods is a shopping center for those who are wealthy, however, everyday, it is filled with people that do not purchase anything, it is noticeable that many people, including tourist go to Harrods because of this factor of being extremely expensive, however, accessible to anyone. Many just go inside to have the feeling of, a grasp of wealth, even though they know they cannot afford it, they feel good just by being able to look at, taste, smell and touch things they do not see in their daily basis. Harrods became an attraction, a place where people experience a certain lifestyle only for the one who can afford it. Every section of the shop has material objects that are quite extravagant, such as a £70.000 television, an electric guitar made entirely of cristal, helicopters, exotic animals, exotic food, golden mobile phones with diamonds, single submarines and the list goes on, All these are just things with an exuberant factor, bringing a sense of desire for people that are experiencing it. Harrods from inside out is a place where people experience a world that people only usually see in movies, bringing people a sense of wonder and excitment.


Stages of Action

When it comes to stages of Action, we are talking about the order, how long and how do we do it. There are two terms when it comes to Experience: Gulf of execution, which is how things work and gulf of evaluation, which is what happenned. According to Donald Norman, in his book “design of everyday things”there are 7 stages of action, 7 sequences of events: Goal, plan, specify, perform, percieve, interpret and compare.

Both Execution and evaluation are important for creative thinkers. Whenever something is being created the first question we must ask is What do I want to achieve? People cannot just simply design something without putting any consideration in it, there is got to be a background, ideas that will lead you somewhere, if we walk blindly, we will never get anywhere. For that to happen, Creative people have to develop a plan, which ensure them to get things done before the deadline. When we are planning and researching for a project, many things can happen, so it is important for designers to have always many plans so that they can then specify them, being able to pick between plans. The following must be one of the most important in my opinion, out of the seven, after planning, thinkind, specifying, if you do all, but do not act upon it, it all becomes worthless, it does not work, the goal is not achieved if we do not perform it. At the end, when you finish, we have to go back and compare the current state with the goal you wanted to achieve, helping you than to analyse what you have done so far and making sure you achieve every detail you wanted to achieve.

These stages of action are a link, if one does not work, then the rest also fails, so as Designers it is important for us to follow this principle step by step to achieve the outcomes we desire.

Six Big Ideas

These Six ideas are psychologicaly speaking by definition how people interact with things. The ideas are: Affordance, signifiers, Mapping, feedback, constraints and conceptual models. Using each system you can determine how the thing can possibly be used, determine the relationship between two set of things, the informatiom the aids to an understanding, the limitations designed into a object and get the explanation on how something works.

As a Graphic Designer, this terms help me to analyse everything that I do, in the same way the groups in the class were analysing objects, we as designers have to analyse everything that we do for a client. We have to think about to whom we are designing, what are their needs, their vision and what do they want as a final piece. When something is being designed for kids for example, what do we want to express with the design, how are we expressing, is it affecting the children the way it is supposed to?. When we are talking about the affordances of something for instance, it should apply clues to the operations of the thing just by the visual, if you cannot tell what it is supposed to do by looking at it, there is a clue that the design need improvments. What I found interesting the most, was the conceptual models, because I agree that with design, things have to be simple and minimalistic, if it is too complex, there is a chance that it might have failed.

The design has to be in an agreement with the public target, it has to interact with the public target. A good design takes a lot o care, planning and thought, not everyone has the capacity to so, and they still call themselves designers.