Posts tagged “pun”

Adventures in Consumption

Here’s a bunch of examples of surprise, delight, dismay and beyond from my recent interactions in the consumo-sphere.

From the travel section at The Container Store. Lots of fun little bottles for packing your unguents and potions for travel. Nalgene bottles are guaranteed not to leak, even in the unpressurized airplane cargo hold. Given that the most you can carry onto a plane under TSA regulations is 3 oz., that seems like a likely size. Nalgene doesn’t make that size, despite sufficient demand that The Container Store has printed up a special sign to try and deflect the inevitable inquiries. What are those conversations like between the Nalgene sales rep and the buyer from The Container Store?

Paying online for the San Francisco Chronicle. In addition to the cost of the paper, I can also add a tip for the carrier, or donate some money to NIE. Not a misspelled Monty Python reference, it’s Newspapers in Education (I Googled). You’d imagine they’d get more uptake if they told us what it was they are asking for money for.

From the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. “No peeking” (and “come back”) is so much nicer than “keep out.” And so knowing; of course when you see an installation-in-progress you are curious! The SFMOMA acknowledges that curiosity and harnesses the energy behind it to encourage you, rather than discourage you.

The menu at Oyaji in San Francisco. We see the risk of software that uses default form entries when you end up with Spider Roll that consists of “Give a brief description of the dish.”

At Crate and Barrel, shoppers can send a text to the manager to give feedback about their shopping experience. I hadn’t heard of this service (from recent Google acquisition TalkBin) before.

A travel poster advertising Alaska. And bears. Funny, friendly bears. Who, if you read the news, keep eating people.

A poster from a local cafe advertising Elizabeth’s range of services. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a more tangible demonstration of the importance of specializing in your positioning. While I’m sure Elizabeth is wonderful and if I got to know her I’d trust with everything including yard maintenance and meal preparation, but to a new customer, someone who is qualified to look after precious offspring isn’t therefore qualified to look after precious animals (and in fact my be less qualified…do you want your toddler in a house full of someone else’s dogs?). Pick what you are good at and sell the one thing. If you need to diversity, create a range of separate messages.

Rooms at the Edgewater Hotel in Seattle have lovely specialized bottles of hair care products that reflect their brand and overall attitude. Unlike most hotels with their tiny (3 oz.) sample bottles, these are big, easy-to-handle bottles like you might have at home. A sign warns you that it’ll cost you $25 to take them home, so you know it’s good stuff. Mind you, on the housekeeping cart are these ketchup-and-mustard-evoking-bottles with stick-on labels that are used to refill those lovely bottles. Delightfulness denied.

Pike’s Place Market in Seattle. Past the faulty grammar (How the elephant got in my pajamas, I’ll never know!) the motivation for this extreme warning is clear enough.

The ice cream menu at Cold Stone Creamery. Random, unfunny, unintegrated product name puns. One evokes James Bond, but why? None of the others do. Other names are silly but decidedly not clever. My favorite is Cookie Minster, made with mint, so you’d think it’d be Cookie Mintster but no. Not that.

FreshMeat #20: Pun Americana

FreshMeat #20 from Steve Portigal

               (oo) Fresh
                \\/  Meat

Anecdotal evidence indicates FreshMeat causes happiness!
Cute ideas about putting a friendly face on a brand
Recently, I gave a presentation about conducting user
research in other countries (in this case, Japan). I
explained the phenomenon of “kawaii” (cute) – a prevalent
design aesthetic that cuts across age and gender. Most
people will recognize “Hello Kitty” as an example of
Japanese cuteness, but in North America that’s simply a
toy-like brand for young girls. In Japan, many businesses
will use a cute image as the “face” on their organization,
in order to present themselves as friendly, inviting, and
of course, non-threatening.

But kawaii is everywhere in Japan. The police use a kawaii
character as their mascot. Stores sell dustpans, tazers,
and dish brushes that are anthropomorphized with eyes and
a mouth.

Some quick examples here and here.

Anyone designing products, brands, services, etc. for the
Japanese market needs to at least be aware of kawaii,
and so I emphasized this to my audience.

One person spoke up and reminded us of the characters that
western companies created to personify their brands,
especially in the 50s and 60s. (For a great collection
of these mascots, check out the book
Meet Mr. Product: The Art of the Advertising Character

It was a provocative comment, because in my fervor to
describe the ubiquity of kawaii imagery in Japan I had
forgotten about something similar in our own culture. Kawaii
is a powerful style of communication (and perhaps mode of
thought) in Japan, and it manifests itself in many ways,
one of which is cute characters to personify a brand, and
of course, the Japanese are not unique in putting faces on
brands. Point taken.

Later, I began thinking of other ways that we create
inviting brands in our culture, beyond the usual
tools of designing logos, retail experiences,
environments, web sites, etc. I realized that in the
shopping mall we’ve got a new, unique form of
Americana/Canadiana/etc…the pun-brand.

Just for groans, check out these names of mall stores:

My Favorite Muffin
Once In A Blue Moose
Northern Boarder
The Athlete’s Foot
Foot Locker
Romancing the Stone
The Stitching Post
Between the Sheets
Humphrey Yogart
Close Encounters
The Hotdogger
Banana Republic
Asian Chao
Bare Escentuals
Bead It!
Bubble Gun
Corda-Roys Originals
Sox Appeal
We’re Going Nuts
Deck The Walls
Pops Corn
The Nutty Bavarian
Soul To Sole
Whole Addiction
Time Zone
Finish Line
Site for Sore Eyes

Okay, take a deep breath! Starts to get a little
painful there, doesn’t it? Notice that sometimes
it’s hard to “see” the pun; when the brand has
established itself so well (i.e., Foot Locker)
it becomes a new “thing” rather than a clever
combination of words. It also seems that the
pun-brands that have been more successful are
(relatively) subtle – I don’t ever see Humphrey
Yogart going national (estate litigation aside)
because it’s just too broad. And some pun-brands
don’t work unless you already know what they are
selling (i.e., Whole Addiction is a body-piercing
concern…get it??).

Obviously, being punny is not enough. Like
any face being put on a business, a thoughtful
approach that is executed well and considers the
audience is essential. The Foot Locker brand
consists of more than the name, and it all
works in harmony. And let’s not forget the
Foot Locker mascot, called The Striper! (see
him here)

A great article about kawaii can be found here and there are a ton of kawaii links here.

Nice piece on visual puns in advertising is here.


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