Autumn 2023

Going off brand

What is Post-Branding? How to Counter Fundamentalist Marketplace Semiotics

Jason Grant and Oliver Vodeb. Designed by Inkahoots and Oliver Vodeb. Set Margins, £20

Jason Grant and Oliver Vodeb’s uncompromising handbook of theory and action ends slyly with a ‘Brandspeak’ quiz, a series of eight mission statements the authors found on the websites of companies offering branding services. These putative USPs make for depressingly uniform reading: ‘brand consultancy’, ‘global brand strategy’, ‘transformative brands’, ‘brand building tools’, ‘brands that can’t be ignored’, ‘brands that seek to be brave and challenge convention’. The designers’ names have been redacted from the quotations. Revealed over the page, some sources are entirely predictable (Landor, Interbrand, Wolff Olins), others (MetaDesign, DixonBaxi) a sign of how pervasive this way of framing and promoting graphic communication has become. Searching the statements, I found cases where they had been plagiarised on other designers’ websites …

Cover design by Inkahoots and Oliver Vodeb.
Top. Spread from What is Post-Branding? showing pages from the organisational handbook of the National Socialist Party (1936) opposite pages from an IBM graphic design guide by Paul Rand (1981).

Rick Poynor, writer, Eye founder, professor of design and visual culture, University of Reading

Read the full version in Eye no. 105 vol. 27, 2023

Eye is the world’s most beautiful and collectable graphic design journal, published for professional designers, students and anyone interested in critical, informed writing about graphic design and visual culture. It is available from all good design bookshops and online at the Eye shop, where you can buy subscriptions and single issues.