// BarryBlog //

A creative dumping ground for issues that interest me personally and professionally, with the thought they may interest you too. Issues such as the business of design, the design of business, the design of objects, design strategy, creative direction, innovation, creativity, thought leadership, observations, as well as recommendations, mid-century modern decorative arts and architecture, and the state of my thinking (and currently the state of my heart).

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

A Random Thought Regarding Big Brands

Random thought. And not a particularly important one as you consider the trouble people of all types are facing due to the tanking ecnomy. But an idea worth considering in my estimation.

So I'm thinking on my way home from the office how much people have always loved their brands. Big name brands. Expensive ones. Then I'm thinking about how many talented people are making absolutely incredible stuff and flocking to etsy to sell it. High end stuff. Then I start thinking about how people are pulling back on their spending either by choice or by necessity. And how the faces I am seeing in thrift and resale stores are changing. Cool hipsters rifling through the clothing racks. People with means. People out of work. Everything in between. Empty malls and car lots. A Chicago auto show that was D-E-A-D (but fun anyway).

So then it hits me. The economy tanked and all, I see an opportunity. It's this:

People who are unknowns, but who make amazing stuff are the new hot brands.
It used to be people wanted to be seen in high end brands. It meant you were part of an elite club. By association these brands made you look successful in the eyes of the world.

That, in my estimation, is changing. It's a bit clumsy and perhaps repugnant in our current economic condition to show up dressed in these high brands. For some any way. Even those with money are shying away from this excess, perhaps cognizant of how many around them are struggling. Living within our means is top of mind like never before, and excess is being scrutinized. Perhaps as it always should have been, but never the less, simplicity and living within one's means is certainly more the trend of the day.

So I predict that small niche brands will be hot. Not just people on etsy but one and two people shops who do and make wonderful stuff. Fashion. Objects. Food. Furniture. Statements of Faith. You name it. And as these companies remain focused on small in terms of payroll, as well as expenditures like marketing and advertising, they will not have to get big to sustain a healthy profit. Distribution is no longer an obstacle. And getting the word out is simple. It is being done for them. Word of mouth. Niche service and insane client satisfaction. All hot, and getting hotter.

This is no doubt not new thinking. But the idea that wearing Armani and driving a BMW seems a bit silly. If my thrift store focus group is even close to correct, I may be on to something here.

What do you think? Do you still love you high end brands? Does seeing your household, your extended family, your friends and neighbors struggle financially make you want to refocus on less, but better. It does me. And buying from people on etsy feels right too. To me it's the equivalent of buying tomatoes directly from my next door neighbor, and knowing 96% of the profits go into his pocket.

It would blow you away if you knew how many amazing items I have bought for $3.99 or less at thrift and resale shops. All my clothes. Everything. Stuff that in some cases is worth several thousand. But even the stuff that isn't is 100% better than anything I could buy new at retail.

So that's it. I see big brands making way for high end niche at the local level. That's my story. My thinking. Weigh in if you feel like it.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

This sure seems to be what I'm seeing, too -- but, I hadn't carried the observation any farther. I think you're right (I always, do -- 'cause you always are, LOL). The thing I keep wondering is how to get traffic when you're a two-person (digital) shop on the internet...

Insane customer service is a given -- but, what else?

Going to have to think about this a little bit more...

10:02 AM  
Blogger Adam said...

Hey Barry -

Not sure why, but your blog doesn't come through on my RSS feed (Google Reader). If you want it to, you should check to see if you have it turned off in your settings.

3:28 PM  
Blogger studiosmith said...

Info - I think good work attracts clients, not visa versa. Sure, good work can go unnoticed, but by and large with the barriers of promoting oneself aside, clients who see your value will no doubt, and can with relative ease (blogs, facebook friends, associations of all sorts) spread the love. If you are good, chances are you are already a step up on who in the past got the work because they were big (safe).

Make sense?

4:58 PM  
Blogger studiosmith said...

Adam - It's been a bit since I baked a feed, so maybe my code is stale, I will check. Really appreciate you letting me know.

5:00 PM  
Blogger Julie said...


10:03 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ooops...I was logged in as "info." D'oh!

Anyway, thanks for your reply. It totally makes sense -- thanks again, Barry!

10:35 AM  
Blogger studiosmith said...

Liz - Thanks for solving this mystery for me. I wondered who A/ "Info" was, and B? who would say "I think you're right (I always, do -- 'cause you always are..."

So thanks, and hope my response made sense.

6:05 PM  
Anonymous Grace@PoeticHome said...

You totally hit the nail on the head Barry. I hope that the era of excess that America has been plagued with will finally end. It's actually quite sad that it took an entire economic malfunction to get people to finally live within their means -- and to respect the art of the individual, of handicraft, of humbleness. Long live individual prosperity instead of corporate profits.

12:51 AM  
Blogger Me said...

I think this is really true & great thoughts.
Thanks for sharing the link to your Charley Book I am very jealous, what a fantastic find.

10:20 AM  
Blogger studiosmith said...

Thanks, me. or those reading this but don't know you, me is here: http://stickersandstuff.blogspot.com/

You have so many great books and thanks for your blog. Also for stopping by mine!

5:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was thrifting again today and was amazed at the amount of people in the shop. It has never been that busy before. It is sad (because it means so many people need to live on so much less) but also refreshing that we are finally beginning to re-use all of the stuff we've accumulated. Buying local and straight from the makers is so crucial now. Thanks for the post.

10:17 PM  

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