The Controversial Brand

Have Netflix, Apple, and Blockbuster taught us anything? Brand identity expert David Brier sheds light on the “new ideas” in branding that are designed to shock, awaken, and worst of all mislead the industry.


Sometimes I hear some cool controversial new idea like “Print is dead” or “The music industry is dead.”

Those are not only incorrect, they’re shallow observations.

To understand this is shockingly easy: People confuse content with media channels.


The Mistake

While print (the medium) may be dwindling (or dead if you want to be dramatic), editorial content will never die. What are blogs? Editorial. What are some of the cutting-edge edge publications doing to drive new business? Creating editorial on the new medium: The iPad.

So, here’s the checklist:

  • Myth: “Print is dead.” Truth: “Content and editorial is (and always will be) very much alive.”
  • Myth: “The music industry is dead.” Truth: “People love and consume music, live and prerecorded, it’s just how it is distributed that’s changed.”
  • Myth: “Advertising is dead.” Truth: “Stupid, unexplored ideas are dead (and always have been). Smart ideas that inspire, motivate, stimulate and empower will always find an avenue to be heard.”
  • Myth: “The movie industry is dead.” Truth: “To a company like Blockbuster which built its company on the medium and not the content, yup, nail the coffin. But companies more fluid built on content like Netflix or iTunes, there’s a lot of life in Hollywood.”

The Truth

Closer to the truth is that lazy, ordinary and unimaginative approaches to anything have a short life span–if any lifespan at all.


So don’t get into “the CD business.” Get into the music business. Don’t sell DVDs, sell movies. Don’t sell a magazine, sell information. Define what your doing correctly, and your brand wins and isn’t as subject to shifts and changes as others might be, plus you’ll stay relevant.

The way out of this mess? Look. Observe. Question. Above all, stay hungry for the new ways people embrace ideas.

And never confuse the content, the meat, the offering with the channels upon which people discover, enjoy or embrace your offering.


Follow David Brier on Twitter here.

Recipient of over 320 national and international design and branding recognitions and awards, David Brier
is an award-winning brand identity designer, author,
and branding expert. His firm’s
has won the admiration of peers and organizations but has, more
importantly, helped clients jump-start their brands in new and
innovative ways, even (and especially) when they’ve failed in previous
brand makeovers. Most recently, David’s celebrated work for Botanical Bakery was selected for the 2010 Communication Arts Design Annual and will be featured in “The Big Book of Packaging.”

Since you’ve read this far, you can request your own Free copy of “The Lucky Brand” eBook.


About the author

Brand identity expert, veteran designer, author, speaker and Fast Company expert blogger. Shark Tank investor and CEO of fashion brand Fubu, Daymond John states, "David Brier is brilliant with branding." He’s been written about in, INC and Fortune Small Business. In addition to being a branding specialist and a Fast Company expert blogger, David's Slideshare presentations on branding have exceeded the 500,000 view milestone (a founding member of Slideshare's Half-a-Million Views Club) and is the 1st place winner in the 2013 Shorty Awards (known industry-wide as “The Oscars for Social Media”) for branding