Nightclub Branding: If You See Us In The Club

Like any other exotic culture, Las Vegas fascinates me. The Los Angeles Times has a great story on the latest trend in Vegas clubbing — the exclusive pool party. With names like Rehab (at the Hard Rock Hotel — and clearly the best name of the bunch), Bare (at the Mirage), the Venus Pool Club (at Caesars Palace), and the Tao Beach Club (at the Venetian), these new “dayclubs” now make the Vegas “nightlife” a round-the-clock proposition:

Since it began in 2004, Rehab has transformed Vegas’ once-sleepy daytime scene into a “Girls Gone Wild” tableau of debauchery. Today, almost every major casino resort has nightclub operators managing its 21-and-over pools. They hire DJs to spin music and demand hefty cover charges. Rates vary by the weekend; on the cheapest days women pay $20, men $30.

Several resorts have separate “Euro-style,” or top-optional, pools, with half-naked women cavorting in the water. This summer, both the Mirage and Venetian — heavyweights in the nightclub arena — have unveiled re-imagined pools.

“It’s done a remarkable thing to the nightlife landscape,” [the Hard Rock Hotel’s Jack] LaFleur said. “Day life? It’s hard to even categorize ! It’s finding those ways to generate revenue. For a town that’s been known exclusively for nightlife, this was extremely daring and off the charts.”

The gamble is paying off.

What will they think of next? Whatever your reaction, you’ve got to admit Las Vegas is a one-of-a-kind laboratory for destination branding. See you at the pool.

Brand Culture | Household Gods

In the old days our ancestors often appealed to a set of household gods to help them “magically” achieve one tricky task or another — to make sure, for example, the fire burned, the bread rose, and the beer bubbled. These domestic spirits are the boggarts, brownies, dobbies, hobgoblins, and pucks of British folklore (and Harry Potter).

It’s clear this belief in household gods persists to this day, only now we call them household brands. Like household gods, household brands vary from family to family and are part and parcel of your cultural background.

In my case, the brands that spring to mind are: WD-40, Arm & Hammer baking soda, McIlhenny Co. Tabasco Brand Pepper Sauce, and Lea & Perrins Worcestershire Sauce.  To me these all share a certain “magical” quality, and somehow I don’t feel quite right unless I have them in my house.

I can also think of two brands that are in danger of losing their household god status: Morton Salt and C&H Pure Cane Sugar.  I no longer feel quite so compelled to have these on my pantry shelf, and it may be no coincidence that I’ve become intrigued by gourmet salts and sugars — you often want to replace one bit of magic with another.

So, what are your household gods?

Brand Culture | The Otherworld

The recent brouhaha over the Burning Man trademark got me to thinking about the role of the Otherworld in pop culture.  One common feature of Indo-European mythology (as well as of many other cultures) is the concept of an alternate world — existing side by side with ours — where the conventions of “our” society are flouted (or even reversed) and which can be entered into only at special times or places. The Welsh land of Annwfn, the Breton city of Ys, Arthur’s Avalon, and the Lord of the Rings’ elvish realm of Lothlórien are all descendants of this very rich mytheme.

I suspect this age-old tradition continues to play a major role in modern American society, exemplified by such cultural touchstones as “escapist” entertainment (In A World Where … ), Las Vegas (What Happens In Vegas … ), Disneyland (The Magic Kingdom), and Halloween (when the worlds of the living and the dead intersect). The Burning Man festival, of course, has quickly become the countercultural event par excellence (note the literal meaning of the word counterculture).  If it’s creators want it to keep that unique status and not be replaced by something else, they need to tread very carefully.  The Otherworld is by its very nature ephemeral and not to be trifled with!

Celebrity Branding | Who’s In Fashion?

The Washington Post has a fun little story on the ever-growing number of music and movie celebrities who are committed to extending their personal brands beyond the entertainment industry and into the realms of fashion and fragrance. Can you name the celebrities behind the following fashion brands (clues in parentheses)?

  • L.A.M.B. (named after her best-selling CD, Love. Angel. Music. Baby.)
  • Sweetface
  • Princy (named after her father’s nickname for her)
  • House of Dereon (named after her late grandmother, Agnez Dereon)
  • Twenty8Twelve (named after her birth date, 12/28)

The answers are:

  • L.A.M.B. — Gwen Stefani
  • Sweetface — Jennifer Lopez
  • Princy — Jessica Simpson
  • House of Dereon — Beyoncé
  • Twenty8Twelve — Sienna Miller

It may not be much of a jump from celebrity to fashion icon, but the usual caveats of brand extension apply:

You’ll want to give your new fashion brand its own identity, breathing life into it rather than naming it after yourself. Your fans normally want to live your lifestyle, not be you, and this brand strategy enables your line to flourish independently, more or less unaffected by the ups and downs of your entertainment career.

That said, your designs should reflect your own sense of style. In other words, you should actually want to wear your own brand — not all the time, but often enough that we know it’s “you.”  Otherwise, you risk being a fashion fad, not a brand.

My prediction for the next big celeb-turned-fashion-brand? Fergie.

Brand Identity: Color Me Convinced

BusinessWeek has an intelligent story on the recent decision of Binney & Smith (a subsidiary of Hallmark) to rename itself after its most familiar brand — Crayola.  This is one of those rare cases where the experts all seem to agree — it’s a strong, confident move by a company on a roll.

Crayola is one of the world’s great invented brand names, in the same league as Kodak, Oreo, and Google. Edwin Binney’s wife, Alice, coined the term from the French word craie ‘chalk’ (the source of our word crayon) plus the affix -ola (a clipped form of the word oleaginous ‘oil-like’ — think Mazola).

Product Branding | California Cuties

I suppose when it comes to groceries I’m a brand slut.  I shop at the local farmer’s market for specialty produce, Whole Foods for healthy stuff, Trader Joe’s for something different, Vons and Ralphs for everyday meals, Marukai for Asian and Hawaiian food, and Costco for bulk items.

Anyway, after a great deal of trial and error, I’ve learned how to shop at Costco — without bringing home a bunch of stuff we’ll never finish up, that is.  Lately, my favorite Costco buy is a box of Cuties® brand California Clementines. Also known as a mikan, satsuma, or Christmas orange, a clementine is a delicious little easy-to-peel variety of seedless mandarin.

I’m not a big fan of your garden-variety orange, but Cuties are just right.  I love the expressive name, the cute logo, and the just-right five-pound box they come in. It seems like a nice step back to the “good old days” of the early 20th century, when California citrus came packaged in crates adorned with the most elaborate and colorful labels imaginable. It’s good to see more and more of our local growers are rediscovering the art of branding.

Place Names | Nameless Islands

If you thought your last naming project was a challenge, be very thankful you’re not the government official in charge of naming Indonesia’s 10,000 or so as-yet-unnamed islands! According to an article in The Jakarta Post, the United Nations is insisting that Indonesia give every one of its often-uninhabited islands an official name by 2007.

Naming an island is serious stuff, as the lack of a name makes it difficult for the government to enforce its territorial claims. Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Minister Freddy Numberi acknowledged that the job is the responsibility of the central government, but he is wisely encouraging the local authorities to take the initiative.

We’ll gladly volunteer our services in exchange for a little uninhabited island in the sun to call our own. (Reposted)