Which comes first? The product or the brand?

We live in a ready-made world. People are pressed for time and look to accomplish tasks without sacrificing too much of their day. Look around and you’ll see ready-made websites, templates for fliers or just about anything else you can imagine. How about a ready-made brand?

Ben Pieratt, a designer and co-founder of Svpply, is selling Hessian, a ready-made brand. Hessian is a complete, fully-integrated brand with no product attached to it. According to Tim Maly of Wired, the brand is selling for $18,000 and includes:hessian_s1_pt2_ui-660x501

–          Name

–          URL

–          Twitter and Tumblr accounts

–          20+ logo and other designs

–          10+ T-shirt designs

–          8 repeating patterns

–          1 website theme

–          1 app user interface theme

–          5 app icons

–          Brandbook with guiding principles

–          30 hours custom design time (for transitioning the brand to buyer’s needs)

To some, this may seem like a great deal. Yes, the footwork is done and everything one may need to introduce the Hessian brand to the world has been created. But is this an idea whose time has come or is this nothing more than an advertising gimmick?

According to Pieratt, his artistic passions drove him to create Hessian after being inspired by his son’s building blocks. He believes that the designers have creative concepts that they should get out, regardless of the lack of attachment to a brand. These designers, Pieratt believes, know how the concepts should be launched and marketed.

While designers do create the ideas that build a brand, the idea of a ready-made brand for a product seems a bit out of place. Brands are created to represent a company, product or service. The brand is meant to reflect the feel and essence of that which it represents. With a pre-developed brand, the product must live up to the brand. Sure, the buyers of the Hessian brand would save a bit of time creating a brand from scratch. But would their product or service be truly invested in the Hessian brand?

Oddly enough, Pieratt told Wired that the product-less brand has taken on a life of its own. Pieratt’s effort to sell the brand has brought increased attention and has essentially led Hessian to become a brand itself. Although he could use the money, Pieratt said he hopes the brand won’t be bought; he has bonded with his son thanks to his creative inspiration.

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5 Responses to Which comes first? The product or the brand?

  1. amonda says:

    Christi,
    I really enjoyed reading your blog post, and in particular, your salient position relative to the true value of a “ready-made brand” concept. I must admit, this is the first time I have ever heard of such an offering, and my first thought when you presented it was “wow, that’s a really good idea.” However, after giving it more thought; or as they say in the sports world, after further review, I am inclined to disregard this product as just another advertising gimmick (as you aptly noted).

    For a brand to evolve, it must be fueled with passion from its creators, innovation from its marketing group, and a belief in it as something viable by all its stakeholders. I just don’t envision being able to capture all of these elements with a ready-made branding template. Sure, such a concept works well for PowerPoint presentations, but a brand is something much more comprehensive and encompassing of a multitude of factors that you just can’t purchase off the shelf.

    Thank you for posting such an interesting and insightful blog.
    Al Monda

  2. Sarah Harris says:

    I totally love/hate this! On the one hand, as many others have said, it’s true – a brand should be reflective of the product it is selling. However, how many mom-n-pop operations or ebay stores or who knows what who want to create an instant internet company could use something like this?! They get a professional cohesive feel to launch with which builds their credibility instantly. I’m sure people would only choose this brand if they had something that “goes with” this feel. Plus it did say “-30 hours custom design time (for transitioning the brand to buyer’s needs)” Then, once they are millionaires or the product sells millions, they can afford to rebrand – thus bringing more attention to their brand.

    When I created my blog, I had no knowledge of how to build a layout so I just “flipped through” the templates that they had and found one I liked. It’s a little strange to every now and then find people with the same template because I classify it as “mine.”

    So I guess, at the end of this post, I’ve become a fan. Those that can afford to build their own brand will, those that can’t, but still want a good cohesive look will choose Svpply.
    Great job!
    Sarah Harris

  3. Stuart Haack says:

    Wow! I am at a loss for words. Don’t get me wrong, I think this is a very savvy business idea. But for branding and marketing a product, I would say this is less than ideal. I am sure there are countless product teams out there that would jump at the chance to bypass the potentially hundreds of thousands of dollars it can cost to go through a branding agency, but this … I just don’t know what to say, haha. I guess I will defer to the thoughts of my graphic designer buddy who is very meta-conceptual in his belief that design and function should work together across branding, marketing and product design. He envisions a level of integration that flows through each and every aspect of design, from function to consumer perception to advertising. When you put the brand (cart) before you even have a product (horse), how do you know if you’ll ever reach your goal? Really, thank you for the share! This concept is very interesting.

  4. lynnhoff17 says:

    Excuse my French but …

    WTF?

    This just seems wrong. As others have mentioned, the brand emerges as the essence of what a company is and does — to short circuit that process and try to arrive at a brand before any of the deep thinking about the product’s unique benefits, target audience and competitive advantage will give you a brand with no pulse.

    Don’t get me wrong. I’m all for convenience–in food, in housecleaning, in bill paying–but if I’m going to the trouble of creating my own company and my own product, I’m going to allow myself the luxury of creating the brand from scratch. I feel like I’d be selling myself short (is there a pun in there?) any other way.

    Thanks for sharing this. Totally fascinating.

  5. Audrey Gilbreath says:

    Christy, thanks for bringing this to our attention. This reminds me of when the Apple MacIntosh first came out where everybody that owned one thought they were now a graphic designer. There is something wrong with this idea and it gives you a cookie-cutter feeling. I am not sure what product or service would fit with this brand. And, whatever happened to all of the information that actually goes into developing and building a brand.

    Our industry has worked so hard on credibility, trustworthiness and sound strategies. This type of off-the-shelf branding is a step backwards to the old days when people thought our industry was full of used-car sales people trying to sell clients on anything.
    This is one of those anything moments. Stimulating article!