Judging Creativity 39, Second TakeBy Burkey Belser
September 9, 2009
Burkey was one of 12 judges two weeks ago in Louisville, KY judging Creativity 39.
Among a pile of mostly uninspired work, one suite of materials stood out. It was—I am surprised to say—the 50th anniversary work for Barbie! The work was, in almost all aspects—design and production—brilliant. What struck me (and others) is that the bags, brochures, media kits, in-store displays and environmental graphics were completely on brand. In my experience, the challenge of being “on brand” escapes most designers (and, remarkably, clients!). How easy it is to go bumping happily off the road without a clue to the damage being done to the brand.
What made this work revelatory for me is that I understood the Barbie brand for the very first time. A eureka moment. Suddenly, I understood that it is Barbie’s glamour, not her impossible plastic beauty that inspires girls. Glamour was writ large in oversized brochures where Barbie was shown in almost human scale. Glamour was writ large in store displays where she WAS full-size. Glamour was authentic because the design and brand team embraced and celebrated Barbie’s plastic self. Understanding your brand is central to protecting and growing it. It hardly matters whether you hate the idea of Barbie (such an easy target). For those whose job it is to promote her glamorous brand, it was a job well done.