Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Container Branding

'Container' or 'Capsule' branding, incase you didn't know, is the term used for the current spate of work coming out of most brand agencies where the company logo is incorporated with genre based content.

This technique was first used by Belgian supermarket chain, Priba in the 1960's (Fact courtesy of Clinton Duncan @ClintonDuncan).

And made famous by ad legend George Lois with his iconic work for MTV.

Since then the same technique has been used again and again. And again. Creative review wrote an interesting article on this subject, asking the question 'is this cheating?' I think it is. And we're all guilty.

venturethree rebranded Waterstone's last year using the container concept.

Someone rebranded Eurostar this year using the container concept.

Saffron didn't really get it but didn't want to be left out of the party.

Wolff Olins however, seem to be in love with container branding. When I saw the work WO have just completed for the San Francisco Asian Art Museum I wasn't surprised by what I saw. These guys love container branding.

Having said that, I think Red is an excellent evolution of this concept. Using words and having the iconic ( ) makes it feel different from the very popular texture coated (3D) logo.

Container branding... Clients love it. They think container branding is dynamic, flexible, and helps them talk to their customers as individuals.

I think it's too easy.


  1. I think it's the adaptability factor that makes container branding so flexible! Most companies want to be flexible with their identity to adapt to all sorts of trends, issues and events.

    We're all guilty cause we think it looks good too I reckon. But I do believe it is a trend though. And probably the 3D(type & structure) branding trend is going to kick off soon. We can see it happening with Saffron's A1 and the recent BT Vision material and Discovery Science amongst a lot of others...

  2. ... Email received from Rob Duncan, Creative Director of Dowling Duncan...

    I have a big problem with this 'Branding trend'. More can be viewed in our article on Design Assembly soon.

    Having worked for John Rushworth at Pentagram and hearing Vince Frost's talk at the Brand New Conference, we were always taught by Rushworth who I'm sure heard this from McConnell, who probably heard this from Fletcher to 'Look for the gift in a logo'.

    So many design agencies are so concerned with unwrapping the gift and connecting to their audience with the wrapping paper that they are over looking the bow that holds it all together.

    Clever, intelligent logos can connect to an audience emotionally as well as the rest of the identity system but designers aren't looking hard enough anymore for that gift. The logo as a container idea to me just seems like an excuse for an average logo and is far too overused. In many cases, take the pretty picture out of the container and you're left with a very dull logo.

    Really good 'Branding' agencies have always been doing clever intelligent and beautiful marks and applying them in fantastic ways. They all know a 'Brand' isn't just about the logo, and that slapping a logo in the corner doesn't make a good brand. This has been happening for years, it's nothing new.

    In my opinion firms should be trying harder to look for that gift and allow a great memorable logo to drive a great brand, rather than letting the tail wag the dog.

    Rob Duncan, Dowling Duncan

  3. 'Container branding' seems to become a popular trend, which means we will see less and less relevant use of it.

    When I first read Mr Duncan's letter earlier today, I agreed with his points completely. I still do, but I now feel that there is one thing that needs to be made clear: a good 'container' identity shouldn't have a pretty picture inside a logo — the 'pretty picture' should be an inseparable part of the logo, or better said, of the identity. If the 'picture' delivers the brand's experience, then it is vital to it, not just bells & whistles. We've long gone past the "will it fax" era. As much as I love classic black & white logos, we're no longer bound by those constraints.

    Of course, most of the 'container branding' projects are only dipping one finger in the water.

    — www.iancul.com

  4. it's for cunts without a fucking idea.

  5. i agree with Rob Duncan, but still i cant help but think that some of that "container branding" is beautiful to look at.

  6. Rob Duncan makes good points, above.

    I also believe that it's a trend and, as we all know, trends have no place in identity design.

    Steve Perry

  7. For fear of going against the grain just a little in my very first post here, I agree that container branding has become a 'fad' and many uses aren't terribly good ones (to be VERY tactful).

    However, I believe in the motto "everything in moderation" as well as "never say never," so I accept that a very small portion of container branding will be brilliant.

    The rest will suck. :)

  8. I agree .. but it really works "container" brand, it is true that sometimes it's just an excuse for not finding a true meaning .. but there are so many different identities and need as much flexibility to communicate with all cultural environment, as a mark country, as there are other nonsense, you just have to find the right balance, if it works like it should work and do a thorough investigation his true identity that launched a successful outcome

  9. Just for the record, here's another old one, done before the digital age probably, by Mr Alan Fletcher:
    http://www.creativereview.co.uk/cr-blog/2011/november/fletcher-christs-hospital — the Wood & Wood logo.