Brand creativity on show

I spent a couple of hours yesterday strolling through the 11 halls of the RAI Center in Amsterdam taking in the sights and sounds of the IBC 2005 exhibition.

This is a massive show. Imagine – over 1,000 companies exhibiting their wares occupying all 11 halls of the RAI. That’s about 72,000 square meters (216,000 square feet) of exhibition space. Plus, there are outdoors exhibit areas.

My two hours yesterday was really a whirlwind tour; you need at least half a day if you want to spend any time on looking at a particular company’s offerings and chatting with the reps on the stands.

So with my trusty Olympus C-3030 Zoom digital camera – only 3.3 megapixels but still pretty good after four years – I captured a good flavour of the show with shots of various exhibitors’ stands and other things going on. Those 75 photos are online as a Flickr photo set.

One thing that always stimulates my curiosity is the tags or strap lines companies use with their logos. Especially with companies whose names are not that familiar to me, it’s a fun exercise to view such imagery and think about my interpretation of them. What message(s) do I understand? How different might that be from the message(s) the companies concerned think they are communicating? I took quite a few photos of such logo-tag combinations, included in the Flickr set.

See what you think.

It’s also interesting to think about why companies include tags or straplines. I guess the less familiar a company or its logo might be, the more they feel the need to add a phrase that will help explain what they’re about. Or the phrase might be used as part of the means to get across a specific message or focus about that company or a particular brand.

Then there are companies whose logos are so familiar that by themselves those logos convey a powerful image about that company and/or its brand(s) that no textual explanation is needed. The best example I saw at the show was Apple who employed an imaginative use of black and white colouring. The photo I took is in the Flickr set so you can see what I mean.

When you look at all the photos, you’ll also notice one big thing – many of these exhibition stands really are astonishing creations, some almost works of art. This is brand merchandising at its most magical, in my view, where scope and scale (and big budgets) combine to enable the stand creators to really use their imaginations.

The best example of great creativity I saw was the stand for Chyron Corporation, a US company who develops, makes and markets broadcast graphics hardware, software and associated services for the television industry.

It wasn’t the biggest stand at the show but the stunning mix of colour, creativity and design shows that size doesn’t matter. Click on the small image to get a full 2048×1536 photo view of the stand (5.5Mb PNG image, opens in new window/tab). It won’t do it justice compared to seeing the stand live, so to speak, but you’ll get a good idea.

If I can find a moment to go back before IBC 2005 draws to a close on Tuesday afternoon, I’ll be there again with my camera.

Incidentally, I have to mention that I am consistently impressed with Picasa, the free image manipulation software from Google. I used Picasa to import all the photos from the camera as well as create the collage at the beginning of this post. It’s such an elegant program as well. If you haven’t yet tried it, you really should.


7 thoughts on “Brand creativity on show

  1. I enjoyed looking at the pictures from this show. My mother works for a company that goes to trade shows each season to sell their products (high end potpourri, room sprays and bath products) to retail sellers. I have always enjoyed seeing the mail-outs they prepare to send their top customers and the displays for the trade shows. Looking at the small ways each piece correlates to the overall image of the particular scent in each season and to the brand as a whole shows how much work goes into the displays. Like the IBC 2005 Exhibition you wrote about, the trade shows where these products are sold have many halls and the buyers do not have time to visit each booth and remember what they have observed and then go back and make their purchases.
    My mom attended Market in Atlanta, Ga., several years ago. She had to work the booth for her company, but was given a chance to walk around and look at other booths. She showed me some of the promotion tools businesses used (such as bags to carry the free products or information in that conveniently have a company’s name/logo on it).
    From your pictures, it looks as though all of these booths were centered around huge logos and well-let signs. I particularly like the attention grabbing promotions used–like the foosball table for people to play, haircuts, live musicians and football games on big screens. It looked like some of these actually used products the companies were promoting, while others were simply to get the attention of the passer-by. It would be neat to see if/how the foosball table was tied in, since usually every move is calculated to make it successful.

  2. “It’s also interesting to think about why companies include tags or straplines.”
    Sometimes I wonder if you’re a mind reader. This is exactly what I’m struggling with at the moment as I finalise a new website.
    BrainStorm – our product name, registered in 1983 – is meaningless on its own. It needs some kind of supporting statement. Perhaps, as our users have suggested, we should have called it “Power Thinker” or “Peace of Mind”. Then we’d have less need for a strapline.
    I notice from your pictures that even companies like IBM have the urge to add straps, so maybe a name or a brand alone is not enough. A strapline allows the company to show its current focus.
    Some of the funniest ones were those whose strapline was as uninformative as the company name. What a wasted opportunity.

  3. I enjoyed looking at the pictures you took at the convention. I have always been interested in companies logos, both visual and written. I am a sucker for commercials because of this interest. I would have enjoyed going to this convention and seeing for myself how these companies decided to market themselves.
    There were a few, in particular, that I was drawn to. I like the slogan for SISLink, “Setting the pace for technology”. I think the runner accurately depicted what the company wanted to portray which is their fast paced and innovative business strategy. I also like “HP invent” and “IBM Your partner for a business in transition”. I was more drawn to the slogans that portrayed a sense of “togetherness” with their customers such as the IBM slogan.
    I did not care for the companies who’s slogans simply described what they did. Pixel Power had a great graphic quality to the placement of its words but the slogan, “broadcast graphics solutions” was boring and did not grab my attention like the more creative slogans did.
    Thank you for taking the time to take pictures of the convention and sharing them with us. It was very interesting to see the way these global companies decided was the best way to market themselves. These pictures enormously help our class since its focus is on “Style and Design”. We can see what we like and dislike from these companies and then make a decision for our own style. Thanks again!

  4. Taglines are not always THAT important, they only become really important for companies that are really well-recognised as a result of their tagline. (Nike’s “Just Do It” comes to mind). If they’re not well-known, they’re not usually remembered. But they are a great opportunity to say something about your company to those who are paying attention.
    The one that caught my attention the most from your photos was Alias’ “Imagination’s engine.” The idea of a company that can provide fuel for new and creative ideas, to help you see outside the box, to imagine previously unthought-of options, that definitely piqued my interest. I was mildly disappointed to find that they are a software company, but their tagline is not irrelevant because they provide software for animation. Anyway, the cool thing about their tagline was that it stopped me in my tracks and made me curious enough about who they were to go and check out their website.

  5. Marie, Mallory, thanks for sharing those thoughts.
    David, I’m not a mind reader (one reason I’m trying out Brainstorm, heh!).
    Your point is an interesting one, as is Laura’s. I agree with you that a tag or strapline can add something to a logo or brand name. So in the case of Brainstorm, for instance, perhaps a well-focused and concise text that helps you get a sense of what Brainstorm is would be a good idea.
    And Laura, like you, I was struck by Alias’ tag. I had the same reaction – it stopped me in my tracks. Imaginative!

  6. Thanks for taking the time to add your pictures. Some of these exhibits we truly have to see to believe. The creativity displayed is amazing. The designs of many are so in-depth that you wonder how someone came up with them. For example, the Chyron Corporation’s stand that you included on the post could be placed in a museum. I’m sure their services are in great demand; even greater now, than they were before the exhibit.
    I also thought that the Apple logo immediately stood out from the rest of the exhibits. The black and white layout made the famous “apple” stronger and more intense. The logo is so distinguishable that all they had to do was enhance it. Everyone knows about Apple, therefore, taglines are not necessary.
    HDTV’s slogan, “Making It Happen,” caught my attention because of its confidence. It is so simple and so true. They are letting people know, “We don’t have to say it because we are doing it.”
    Thanks for allowing us to take part in the IBC 2005 exhibition. The best way to develop an eye for successful creativity is to witness it.

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