Friday Fives, Vol. 222
This week we’re seeing why brands love hawking products in Hawkins, taking more than a skin deep dive into Kim Kardashian’s new beauty brand, and discovering why design is any brand’s secret weapon for success.
Forget demogorgons. Forget the Mind Flayer. Forget Vecna. The real enemy in Stranger Things is low brand awareness. Anyone who’s ever watched this ’80s nostalgia-soaked Netflix sensation can attest to the rampant product placement. Unlike the finale of season 4, the desire for brands to be part of a global mega-hit show isn’t shocking. What is surprising is that there are no paid integrations, according to Netflix, and every decision is left with the Duffer brothers who created the show. Still, the Duffers greenlight so many product tie-ins that we half expected the Folgers jingle to be Max’s favorite song instead of Kate Bush’s “Running Up That Hill.”
The Kardashian empire grows even larger with the introduction of SKKN by Kim. The new skincare line checks all the boxes of a modern beauty brand: refillable packaging, science-backed ingredients, and gentle formulations designed to work for all skin types. But it wouldn’t be a Kardashian endeavor without some drama. The name SKKN bears a resemblance to existing Black-owned beauty brands. And the packaging, which comes in soft earth tones, might not actually be as friendly to the earth as Kim would have you believe. If this fails, maybe Kris Jenner should launch a makeup line called “KSS by Kris.” You’re welcome, Kris.
The future used to be a collective source of inspiration for society. We envisioned a tech-driven utopia of global unity. These days, given the tumultuous state of… everything, that idea sounds more like science fiction than a plausible outcome. Gen Z is instead looking to the past for comfort and connection. Nostalgia is in their DNA. For the first generation to grow up with tech at their fingertips from day one, the trends of previous decades have always been just a quick search away. Brands of course are taking notice. Savvy brands aren’t just sliding on a pair of 90s era JNCO jeans and calling it a day. The best nostalgia activations tap into a modern cultural moment and connect it back to the appropriate bit of bygone eras. Moschino’s Lunar New Year line is a particularly “gr-r-reat!” example.
The entire planet is on the brink of collapse, right? There’s war in Ukraine, bedlam in the Supreme Court, rising temperatures, gun violence, and what seems to be wave 50 of the pandemic. It’s natural to assume the world is only getting worse, but the data says otherwise. Today, wars are rarer, and when they do happen, less deadly than in the past. We’re experiencing historic peaks for life expectancy, literacy, and standards of living. All the while, child mortality, hunger, and extreme poverty are on the decline. Why, then, does everything feel hopeless? The answer is partly explained by our inability to appreciate gradual gains in times of crisis. We’re more likely to forget the slow burn of progress when catastrophe strikes. It’s not to say that the world is problem-free, but in context, things could be much worse. Hope we didn’t jinx it…
In 2018, McKinsey published The Business Value of Design. The report confirmed what we at The Working Assembly have known all along: Brands with stellar design perform better financially. McKinsey’s new report, Redesigning the Design Department, furthers that idea. The fresh report maintains that design is integral to company success, but claims that designers shouldn’t be siloed. Instead, designers should work closely with all members of a corporate team to infuse design into every aspect of an organization. TL;DR: do everything with design in mind, and your brand will do just fine.
The Working Assembly is an award-winning branding and creative agency.
Established in 2017, we collaborate with emerging and evolving companies for end-to-end brand building, including strategy and visual identity, print and digital design, content, and creative campaigns.
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NYC branding agency exploring the intersection of art, design, technology and culture. Partnering with emerging and evolving brands.