Tag Archives: Brand

An Interview with Japanese Eyewear Brand: Less Than Human

The Less Than Human glasses that I bought last year in Tokyo, Japan, are sitting now in a clean metal case on my bookshelf. I am saving them for those moments when I want to transform my appearance – a thick, black rimmed metamorphosis.

I save them now, in that clean metal case, as they are part of a new face, an “accessorized face,” a face-for-others, a less than human face, only to be brought out on the most important of moments.

I was recently able to ask the Less Than Human team some questions about their brand. Also, they graciously sent me two beautiful promotional pictures of their Autumn/Winter 2008 collection. The pictures are posted above and below are for your viewing pleasure.

LESS THAN HUMAN: 3 Questions

1. Why should people wear Less Than Human glasses? That is what makes your glasses special?

We regard an eyewear not only as an instrument to remedy person’s eyesight (at least in western sense of value) but also as an important element which makes vivid impression at a central part of each one’s face.
In other words wearing an eyewear can be said to be an expression of mind which tells the personality.
Our originality spontaneously appears from our insight, or sometime is inspired by various cultures. LTH set each collection theme affected or organized by complex aggregation every collection show. Our eyewear design, function or coloring reflects our theme or own world view. Not to mention we are happy to be received highly, that is, our collection is just received to be “excellent as an eyewear”, “beautiful as a color” or “unique as a form” but also for the reason we are unaware of, ‘Wearing LTH eyewear’ can make people have fun or cheer up through our unique communication as well as international performance.

2. What influences your design team?

What influences us specifically fluctuates from time to time. We are always looking for some interesting designs, gadgets or details like ‘Never seen it before’, ‘Must be interesting if there is’ or ‘It can be surprising if・・・・’. Of course, we do stick to product’s original role as an eyewear. However we can say that our position or attitude as LTH is affected by so called ‘PUNK’.
We would be happy if you can sense our spirit and paradoxical sincerity through our activity.
We hope you can sense LTH originality from our collection, drawing a line from a temporary fashion. Please do insist ‘My fashion and idea shall be beautiful in my own way even if it is different from others’. You should let yourself be what you are.

3. What is the future of Less Than Human?

When we look back to eyewear history in the future, we can be a significant standard as it is ‘before LTH’ or ‘after LTH’. We mean that we are the strongest brand in the world in an ironical way.
Here is a hidden theme on our next collection.

I AM RECOGNIZED AS THE STRONGEST BRAND IN JAPAN
I AM COMMONLY RECOGNIZED AS THE MOST POPULAR BRAND
I AM FURTHERMORE RECOGNIZED AS THE CHARISMATIC BRAND
I AM THEREFORE PRAISED AS GENIUS,
AND RECOGNIZED AS THE STRONGEST BRAND IN THE WORLD
BUT, I AM EXTREMELY AND ABNORMALLY IN DOUBT OF MY BRAND NAME

Please don’t understand this sentence literally. It’s just a morbid humor.

We hope that we will be able to produce the most featured and the most popular eyewear that makes people happy (in good meaning as well as in bad meaning).

—-

Thank you, Less Than Human for taking the time to answer my questions and provide stunning promotional pictures.

URL: Less Than Human

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A Living Fluidity

Sara Batterby’s article Brand Personification is a concise look at the living fluidity that one’s brand undergoes through the use of social media and search engine dissemination. It is also a call to recognize the “human” element of branding.

Batterby writes, “Brands, like us, have no meaningful existence outside of the constantly changing perceptions, interactions and relationships that they share with others. They must learn to see themselves this way. Through the eyes of their virtual community.”

Branding in an online world is subject to fluxuations, relationship building and collaboration, noise, and spread. One’s brand identity shifts and becomes unstable through interaction (or non-interacation) with others. It is no longer paid advertising, but publicity (i.e. conversations), that sway a brand to the ranks of the favorable or unfavorable. People have a voice and it counts consequentially. Moreover, it is the one who spends time with the work that counts, the one who helps construct our brand by making it apart of who they are.

The virtual communities that one is apart of communicates to others a part of who one is. The online identity of the brand is caught up within these micro-conversations, this labryinth of interconnectedness.

Batterby goes on to write , “This fluidity of what constitues the brand has given it a living quality that is more akin to our own existence and this should give us some insight into what to do about it.” Some companies are recognizing this and have joined the conversation. Directors, writers and artists using services such as Twitter to connect with others have put themselves into a vulnerable, albeit necessary state – they have embraced the human element of their brand.

We knew all along that behind the facade of the brand lurked real flesh-and-blood humans, but now, the facade is fading before our eyes and many brands are using social media, engaging with others and changing the way that we interact with and view their brand. Also, this flux has, in general, gone on to transform what used to be an online “profile” into a brand, a virtualization of the self.

Batterby ends by asking the deceptively simple question, “If your brand was a person, what kind of person would you want it to be?” Look within. Look without. Listen to the conversation. Listen to your self. Who are you?

Sara Batterby is the editor of WORD UP!.

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Branding and Identity: Three Questions with Håvard Gjelseth

Skop 2
Håvard Gjelseth: Producer/Director

Håvard Gjelseth is a designer. His company is “This Way Design” based in Oslo, Norway. His website is a grid comprised of images of projects that he has worked on. The grid is then divided by project type: Record Covers, Interactive, Illustration, Identity, Photos, Products, Motion, and Art: This Way Design.

Brand identity is created by way of people like Gjelseth. That is, people able to connect with the client’s needs while bringing to the floor something authentic to themselves. Creating a brand that “feels” right, that resonates with the recipient of the product or company. One look at the “grindcore” series of logos that he did for Norweigan noise-unit Jazkamer and it is apparent how special his vision is. Who else uses the images of twisting branches as a representation of “grindcore” music? Now, that’s successful and emotionally satisfying branding.

I asked Havard Gjelseth three questions and present them to you, unedited. If you are looking to work with design or in the creative field in general, I recommend you pay attention to the words of such a tasteful designer:

1. What factors do you take into account when working with the identity of a company or individual?

For me it is about the balance between what reflects the client’s personality and the unexpected twist to make it stand out. Personally I find it inspiring to tell a story when working with identities – to
find unexpected sources of inspiration; to get closer.

On top of all that of course I take pride in – and love – the handcraft part of the work, either it is photography,pixel-perfectness or the details of the typography.

2. What advice would you give to people looking to work in the design business?

1) It has to be in your heart – or it will show
2) Make sure business doesn’t swallow you, keep doing personal projects
3) Work with people better than you

3. In your opinion, what are some key elements to a successful brand?

I think I’ll answer that by saying what factors in my experience make
bad brands: Fear, complexity and similarity.

On behalf of The Eyeslit-Crypt: Thank you, Håvard Gjelseth.

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The Beast of Fame – E.M. Cioran: An Explication of “Fame: Hopes and Horrors” (Lesson One)

People talk about us and we talk about other people, too. We are, simultaneously, connected and divided by our talk with others. What remains of me after I have a conversation with you is out of my control. Who I become for you is decided by you and through those conversations you have with other people. We arise out of what we do and out of of how we are perceived by self and others. Our name, our own special flavor, slips from our tongues and onto the tongues of others. It is a virus. “Reputation” is that slippery wraith, which we must wrestle with, from which we cannot escape.

E.M. Cioran, from his essay “Fame: Hopes and Horrors,” writes, “Just as each of us, in order to ‘make a name for himself,’ strives to outstrip the others, similarly in the beginning man must have known the vague desire to eclipse the animals, to affirm himself at their expense, to shine at any price (108).” For Cioran, this tendency toward, what could be called “personal branding” or “reputation” is not a recent phenomenon, but is rooted in our very being, in the everydayness of our “minding” of the world. That is to say, this desire toward recognition and reputation, while perpetually settled in front of our eyes as something as natural as falling snowflakes, comes from a suspect source: the Serpent’s kingdom. Nonetheless, us humans like to shine, to be in the “spotlight,” to be seen, to increase our visibility. More than “like,” we crave it.

Cioran continues, “Man alone, in the state of nature, wanted to be important, man alone, among the animals, hated anonymity and did his utmost to escape from it. To put himself forward, such was and such remains his dream. It is difficult to believe he has sacrificed Paradise out of a simple desire to know good and evil; on the other hand, it is easy to imagine him risking everything to be Someone (108).” The shift that occurred from selflessness to selfhood, is something that we cannot know, by virtue of our ability to be knowledgeable about the world and about ourself. But, a faint glimmer of selflessness remains, can flourish if nurtured, can, at times, overcome the Beast of Fame.

To be anonymous in a Web 2.0 world is to not exist, to fall off the map of the social media grid. Take away the technological connections from our life and we are once again in confrontation with the raw presence of ourself and those immediately present to us. Nonetheless, give us a sandbox and we will build profiles, vanity sites, products, commercials, microblogging clients and ten thousand other things. Why? Simply put, to be someone. “Personal branding” involves shifting the focus from the Other to oneself. The network that one chooses to be a part of shapes the image, helps build a sense of self and gives the Other a context from which to form an opinion about someone. Our name itself becomes more than a name, but a brand, a logo, a marketable representation of our greatness, of our strive toward fame.

“When one cannot save one’s soul, one hopes at least to save one’s name (109).” In our everyday experience, the soul seems to flee from us as we engage in various tasks. That elusive thread follows behind us, throws itself in front of us and projects itself onto us, faint and wispy. The name, on the other hand, is ever present, it is who one is to others (and to oneself). Reputation and name are intimately connected, are two sides of the same coin. The character in the old Western film declares, “Mah good name was a slandered.” In Japan, the family name is the first name you give when introducing yourself. The family name is the larger unit from which you came, to which you are still joined: your most precious circle. In American culture, the first name is one’s skeleton key to a world of unabashed self-creation and individualization. The way of the name may differ from culture to culture, but the value of the name does not. The name is conjoined with the human world, the soul sits between this world and another, the place before birth; it arises from the place of pre-birth.

On the “mania of reputation,” Cioran concludes, “If this mania were to seize any animal in its grips, however “retarted” that animal might be, it would press forward and catch up with man (109).” Thus far, no other animal has strived for the kind of otherworldly sense of reputation that us humans possess. We are the kings and queens of the imagined world, of the creation of our self and the responsibility to be someone. So, who are you?

E.M. Cioran – “Fame: Hopes and Horrors” from the book “The Fall Into Time.”

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Brand Strategy: Old Man’s Hands Productions (Eon McKai)

Director Eon McKai‘s production company, “Old Man’s Hands” new 2008 “logo movie” presents a change in the Alt-Vivid brand. What are your thoughts on this “logo movie?” Do you think that this new video adequately expresses the aesthetic aims of McKai and company?

We were able to track down the older “logo movie” for “Old Man’s Hands” and compare the two. The older version shows a tattooed nude body with hands reaching out from both sides of the screen, seemingly touching the body. Also, a close look reveals the words “Eon McKai” tattooed across the woman’s stomach. When the text “Old Man’s Hands” is presented, a voice accompanies it, reading the words for us in a gritty compressed voice.

The new video shows us a flower being fondled (or broken apart or simply being touched) by what could be the hands of an old man. The scene then suddenly shifts to a saturated frame of a film reel, while the text, neatly aligned to the left, jitters, hovers. No voice or tattooed women can be seen in the new video.

The new brand image seems well-suited for conneisseurs of abstract visual media and video-art installation pieces. Perhaps, McKai is reaching out to a new audience or working from the influence of contemporary experimental filmwork. Whatever is behind the new brand image, it seems to me to be a positive step toward broadening the audience of his film and displaying his power as a film maker.

Watch the 2008 “Old Man’s Hands” Logo Movie:

Watch the old logo movie:

Old Man’s Hands Logo Movie (old)

Other McKai links:

Eon McKai Official

“The Doll Underground” Release Party @ Little Cave, 4/9/08
‘Hospital!’ Release Party @ Redwood Bar & Grill, 8/24/08

  • ‘Circa ’82’ Release Party @ Hyperion Tavern, 6/10/08
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    The Cobrasnake: Creating Culture

    The Cobrasnake (Mark Hunter) takes photographs and makes T-shirts. His brand has expanded; he has infiltrated the clubs and the streets of the world. A casual glance at his website shows only the latest T-shirts available for purchase and a dense archive of Cobrasnake’s photographs. Said simply: the man is busy. The people caught in the lens of his camera are not models, posing professionally, but seemingly random people, musicians(or people who happen to be wearing Cobrasnake T-shirts). Through the photographs, a new culture is created and takes form. Cobrasnake is not simply taking pictures, he’s creating cultural identity. Take note.

    In this developing age of openness to personal branding, the Cobrasnake’s idea of selling limited runs of handmade T-shirts and hitting the clubs to snap the young and the restless works well. Everyone, it seems, these days is using some kind of social media as an extension of their daily life. What Cobrasnake goes is gives people a base from which to view the blossoming of club culture, the fashion of a certain party or event and so on. As he says in an interview with MediaTemple, “When i started shooting nightlife it was funny because people were not used to having their photo taken by someone that wasn’t their friend. Now most people want as many people as possible to take their photo.”

    Gazing at the pictures on his website, we can see a myriad of “beautiful” people, enjoying themselves or at least being out, being seen. They do not possess the lifeless “looking past the camera” gaze that many professional advertisements rely on, but offer a more personal view of the scene. Some of them are almost inviting, comforting. After spending enough time clicking through the photo albums, you, too, may be enticed by the idea of joining the social enterprise that Cobrasnake offers. Or…

    One Twitter user, wrote, “Not sure if he hates the Cobrasnake due to hatred or jealousy.” as his tweet. Perhaps this is the feeling that many viewers of the brand experience. The Cobrasnake, by showing you what is fashionable, what is happening in the “hot spots,” may make you realize how actually detached you are from those scenes. Wanting to leap into the scene, but unable to press beyond the computer screen. Meanwhile, somewhere, maybe right now, The Cobrasnake is plotting, working, selling, and enchanting folks with an invitation to transform themselves into a new person.

    Links for more information on this enterprise:

    The Cobrasnake (Official)
    Cobrasnake Interview
    Cobrasnake on Wunderbuzz
    Cobrasnake Interview on The Brilliance

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