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Guruism and Brand Critique

PLUS: IKEA Horror Game Gets a C&D
November 2, 2022

It’s holiday season. This year I’m not upset because the Christians are big mad about red cups. I’m mad because the trapping on this cup is driving me nuts. See that section where the green emblem lightly bleeds into the red of the cup? :shudder:

Trapping is the printer’s technical term for getting solid colors to align and butt up against each other without bleeding into one another.

Printing with perfect registration (the aligning of printing plates to avoid trapping errors) is both an art, and a skilled trade. Excellent trapping requires a lot of thought and coordination but goes virtually unnoticed. Great printing is a collaboration between a designer and the pre-press team.

I want to believe this was an intentional design choice.

What does any of this have to do with eCom? We make intentional design choices every day that cause friction for the customer. But for those in the industry who have a particular skill it’s not a pot hole, it’s a spike strip that stops us dead in our tracks. We just can’t help ourselves but see the imperfections.

In the age of social media we transition from noticing the imperfection into using it as a platform for self-aggrandizement, disguised as informational content. This particular post offering suggestions on how to improve Kin Europhorics’ website sums up the type of guruism rampant on Twitter and LinkedIn.

“This brand’s message isn’t coming through” is a way of inserting ourselves into the story of the brand’s art. We interpret what the artist is trying to convey and relay to each other the purpose and message. This style of critique is venturing towards formal Criticism.

Art criticism is a mature industry that has divided itself into multiple disciplines, ranging from art history to the theory of beauty. As brands trend more towards art than commercial goods we see similar critique emerge. And in an era where the market is consolidating at both extremes of the maturity spectrum (mature DTC businesses and immature startups alike) we’re likely to have fewer choices in the marketplace to purchase. 

Which makes the historical context and critique that much more of a vain pursuit. 

We covered this in-depth in the Romanticism episode over on the Visions Pod if you want to go deeper down the rabbit hole. 

In the meantime I’ll be over here obsessing about how Starbucks could possibly allow this cup to pass the print QA test. 

— Phillip

Holiday Hubbub. We covered this once before, but as we’re officially in eggnog latte season it’s worth a refresh. Adobe Analytics is predicting a 2.5% increase in digital Holiday sales for 2022 over 2021, pushing up to $209.7B.

Inflation effects. Department store foot traffic is down from the highs experienced after mass store reopenings in 2021, according to an analysis by Overall sales numbers seem to be recovering despite the draw down in footfall. As the holiday season sneaks up on us, fewer are returning to midrange department stores such as Dillards (-19.9% decrease), Macy’s, or Belk; while luxury is faring slightly better. Nordstrom, Saks, and Bloomie’s are down single digits.

More Sights & Sounds. Meta is using AI to power audio compression. Snoop Dog is using music to teach kids the power of positive affirmations. Frontier Airlines is offering an unlimited “all-you-can-fly” travel pass to a few select customers in 2023. Twitter engineers were apparently told to print out their code from the past 30-60 days to personally show Elon Musk, and then they were told to shred it instead.

[Ph]ashion Show. Ralph Lauren and Fortnite have partnered up to create a phygital fashion collection, as well as a series of events, both in the virtual and physical worlds.

From Sneakers to Sertas. The sneaker affiliate Twitter accounts are now tweeting random Amazon garbage because shoes are on the decline. Nature is healing.

More Touch News. Maximalism meets collector in these Pokemon heeled boots. And Victoria’s Secret is acquiring Adore Me for $400 million.

Bedazzled Buns. Juicy Couture and Kraft Real Mayo have collaborated on a velvety fashion tracksuit, that says “SMOOTH” across the ass in rhinestones. Quite the mashup.

Emma Gives You Wings? Influencer-backed brand Chamberlain Coffee has appointed Red Bull alum, Liz Ahern as its Chief Marketing Officer as it scales SKUs to whole bean coffee.

Store Closing? Ikea is threatening to sue game maker Jacob Shaw for his survival game that’s in development. The game, called The Store is Closed, is set in an infinite furniture store that very much resembles Ikea, its layout, and its branding.

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