ICFF, Ellen Lupton, brand loyalty, and ModKat

In continuing to read coverage of the ICFF in New York this week I happened upon the New York Times column on the Fair, in which the columnist Penelope Green essentially followed Ellen Lupton, the curator of contemporary design at The Cooper-Hewett National Design Museum, as she browsed through the show.

This post wanders around a bit as well, but the article got my immediate attention when it began with Ellen noting that “The relationship between you and your furniture is not a one-night stand  .  .  . Sometimes it lasts a lifetime.”

Hmmm, the same can be said for our favorite brands. Those that have followed this blog, know how we feel about package design and its role in brand equity for the long haul. It is certainly not a one night stand.

She went on to say ” home life is rarely just sunshine and freshly made heirloom beds. It can be dark and complicated. People kill each other, they have affairs. they steal each other’s money. Domestic life is hard.” Again I wondered about the comforting role of the lifelong relationship we all build with the brands we love. Does this continue to give us comfort in uncertain economic times?

I also wondered about brand loyalty and the switching, or not, that might take place during various types of economic cycles. There is significant anecdotal evidence that suggest consumers who establish relationships with brands during tough times keep those relationships for a long time. 

According to Wayne Hurlbut in a recent article atsmallbusinessnewz.com,”Depression survivors were very loyal to certain businesses and reliable products that delivered on their brand promise. There was no margin for error, as a bad brand represented a major cash loss. It became a commonplace for those who lived through the Great Depression, to retain loyalty for their entire lives, to brands that kept their word on quality and reliability.”

ModKat ImageFinally, as Ellen continued to wander through the show she came across a fascinating product called ModKat, a kitty litter box unlike any I have seen. In fact their website says they were given the ICFF Editor’s Award for the Best Accessory. Folks at the show obviously thought they were on to something. As they say, it looks like a great little private area for your feline friend to do their business.


About Richard Shear

designer, husband, teacher, blogger, father, athlete, author, historian Richard has over 25 years of brand identity and package design experience, with a wide range of clients such as Ahold, Coca-Cola, Hasbro, IBM, Johnson & Johnson, Pernod Ricard and Procter & Gamble. He began his career working with the legendary advertising art director, and AIGA Medalist, George Lois and the British design manager Clive Chajet. In his next design management position at Lippincott & Margulies, he worked with Walter Margulies learning the complex skills of global corporate identity. He then became Creative Director and Partner at Peterson & Blyth, one of the premier brand identity and package design firms of the time. He is a founding faculty member of the Masters in Branding Program at New York’s School of Visual Arts. He publishes the blog The Package Unseen, and has been a guest lecturer at colleges including FIT, Trinity College and Tyler School of Art. He is a graduate of the Tyler School of Art at Temple University. Richard is a Board member of the AIGA MetroNorth Chapter, past President of AIGA‘s Brand Design Association, President of the Package Design Council and a member of its Board of Directors. He is a member of USA Cycling and US Rowing, a nationally ranked masters bicycle racer, and a member of The Saugatuck Rowing Club, the 2010 Masters Club National Champion.
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