Gladys Santiago

Identifying Brands by Design Alone

Posted in Uncategorized by Gladys Santiago on January 2, 2010

What are some products that are so uniquely designed, that the omission of any distinguishable logos has little to no effect on people’s ability to correctly identify the brand?  Hummer and Volkswagen Beetles are two products that come to mind.  Here are a few others:

Unbranded Blackberry - Scrubs

Sure, this may be a more archaic model of a Blackberry, but it demonstrates the unique features that make the phone so recognizable.  Before the ubiquity of smartphones, this classic Blackberry served as the blueprint of their design.  During the 2006 season of Survivor, a contestant found a piece of wood shaped like the mobile device and pretended to send and read emails by using an imaginary scroll wheel.   

Unbranded Scene - Ugly Betty - Be-Shure Unbranded Pringles - The Simpsons - Pranks and Greens

In the first picture, Pringles canisters are lined on shelves in a manner that the brand name and logo are not visible.  Pringles promotes the fact that it comes in a canister as opposed to a bag.  This innovative packaging helps give Pringles a pop culture uniqueness that prevents the brand from being just another salty snack indulgence.  

Unbranded Mrs. Buttersworth - The Simpsons - Oh Brother, Where Bart Thou

When it comes to maple syrup, Aunt Jemima and Mrs. Buttersworth are staples at the breakfast table, but the distinctive bottles help make the brand all the more memorable and fun.

ScienceWater - The Simpsons - Waverly Hills 9021-D'oh

The oft-imitated and parodied VitaminWater bottle solidifies the importance of package design in establishing a brand’s identity.  When Glacéau sought to patent the VitaminWater bottle and go after rival companies imitating its design, the company pointed out how consumers may get confused and purchase the wrong product.  In a roundabout way, the lawsuit pursuits demonstrate the effectiveness of fictionalized product displacement.

TacTic - The Simpsons - Oh Brother, Where Bart Thou?

The above image shows the TicTac brand name, but the transparent plastic case that houses the 1 1/2 calorie mints is part of its branding.  

Redesma - Pine 

Little Trees is notoriously protective over its trademarked tree-shaped air freshener.  Even though the product may be well-known to car owners, Little Trees is not exactly a household brand.  

IPS - King of Queens - Santa Claustrophobia

Brown uniforms and brown delivery trucks are synonymous with UPS.  

Mypod - The Simpsons - Mypods and Boomsticks Mypod - The Simpsons - Mypods and Boomsticks

Although its design has been modified several times, the iPod, along with the accompanied white earbuds, remains a highly identifiable product.   

Myphone - The Simpsons - Mypods and Boomsticks American Dad iPhone 3

Like many other Apple products, the iPhone has garnered iconic design status and is capable of promoting the Apple brand without any hint of a logo.


Even though both Oreo and Post-It are visually identifiable, they are proprietary eponyms and often equated with their cheaper, generic imitators.  The above examples, with possibly Little Trees being the only exception, maintain their brand identities and meanings.


2 Responses

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  1. […] Brands by Design Alone This is a fun article that shows that we know what a brand is just by design.  Uses the Mapple Simpsons […]

  2. Josef said, on January 9, 2010 at 1:29 pm

    For a few years, I thought the character Doug from “King of Queens” worked for UPS. It wasn’t until a Kevin James fan friend of mine mentioned it was actually a fictional company called “IPS” that I was set straight, but the Brown brand is so powerful that I still only partially believed it when this fact came to light.

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