The value of "brand" and branding
Average Doesn't Cut the Mustard Any More

The "dismal brand" of craft.

TomatosoupUnfortunately, the "brand" of craft has been on a steady decline and no longer represents something special for the consumer.  If the consumer (whether it’s an individual, a business, a voter, a donor, etc.) doesn’t pay a premium, doesn't make a preferred selection, or doesn't spread the word, then no "brand" value exists for that consumer.

Campbells-warhol-2012-cansWe need to reinvent the brand of craft, just the way Campbell's soup recently reinvented its TOMATO SOUP can based on Andy Warhol prints.  Clearly, a case where a company embraces art that reflected its brand.

I bought four cans, one in each color.
Before this, I hadn't bought Campbell's soup in years. It was too boring, too average for my taste. This new can was remarkable.   I was seduced into buying it and had to have it.

Along with a similar "brand" achievement, Did you read about the Grey Poupon Facebook page? "

The buzz isn’t centered around the fact that Grey Poupon has a fan page, but how they are managing it.Grey Poupon Good Taste

While anyone can view Grey Poupon’s wall, in order to “like” the brand, one must apply to be a member of the “Society of Good Taste.” Accepted members get access to exclusive content, which includes coupons and deals for the product. How do you get accepted? The application process requires allowing Grey Poupon to scour the public areas of your Facebook account. They look for good grammar, diversity in taste, and the number of friends you have. If you “cut the mustard” (their phrase) you are granted access. If not? Your application to the Members with Good Taste is declined!

It isn't the first time Grey Poupon has elevated its brand from ordinary mustard. Maybe you aren't old enough to remember this famous television commercial, so here it is.

This commercial (from the 1980s) transformed the perception of Grey Poupon from ordinary mustard into "extraordinary" mustard. It turned Grey Poupon mustard into something remarkable. Until this commercial, bright yellow (boring) mustard was the standard. Now Grey Poupon mustard is everywhere!

Now look at craft as a "brand".

Very few people go to a craft festival with the conscious intent to buy the craft, let alone pay a premium for something. (Brand isn't the only reason for this, but we can't tackle all the problems in one post.)  Previous posts examined the consequences of excess supply and dwindling demand.  Any commodity responds to the laws of economics. 

So sad to say that the oversupply of average has contributed to the "dismal brand of craft".  This handicap in the marketplace causes makers to compete in a downward spiral for consumer dollars. 

But if mustard can be reinvented from ordinary to extraordinary, it might be possible to reinvent the dismal brand of craft to remarkable.

Better branding can raise a product out of the ordinary.  It has happened over and over.  The opportunity to create a better brand for craft exists, but we need to admit to current facts, find better practices, and devote ourselves to elevating our craft.  A better brand for craft is possible, but only if we make it happen.

Ideas anyone? Seriously.....brainstorm. Your future, my future, and our futures depend on making a better brand for craft.

Golden Girl Bracelets by Harriete Estel Berman
Until Mrs. Field's, cookies were just cookies.
Until Jazzercize, exercise was exercise.
Until Barbie, dolls were dolls.

After Mrs. Fields, cookies were a million-dollar business.
After Jazzercise,  exercise was a franchise worth $93 million in 2008.
After Barbie, doll marketing was changed forever.

Golden Girl Fruit Crate display and three art jewelry bracelets by Harriete Etsel Bermanbra
Golden Girl by Harriete Estel Berman

The images and re-purposing of post-consumer materials reflect California as both the archetypal consumer culture and a leader in the recycling movement and green design.                    

Fruit crate labels were actually invented by California growers in the early 20th century as a promotional campaign for California produce.  The fruit crate labels symbolically convey the fertility of California’s bountiful agricultural industry of fruits and vegetables, but it now blooms with inventions and technology ventures.

Golden Girl was on display in an exhibition:

Redefining the San Andreas Faultline
September 8 - October 27, 2012

Craft in America Study Center
8415 W. Third Street
Los Angeles, California 90048.

This post was updated on June 22, 2022, to provide current links.