May 28, 2012
Top row left: Baxter scented candle packaging by Marc Atlan; on right: a water bottle designed by Manic Design; 2nd row: Dependable automotive product containers designed by TAXI West; 3rd row left: “This Water” branding by Pearlfisher; on right: Provenance product packaging designed by Jog; bottom row left: ”This is Origami” packaging by Magdalena Czarnecki; on right: This is Spinal Tape
This is a trend that’s been around for a while now: to include declarative statements in product brand names. Similar in a way to the 1970 exclamatory brands names that were complete sentences ending in exclamation points. (I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter! Gee, Your Hair Smells Terrific!)
Here, however, there are no exclamation points and the style is more dry and understated, almost to the most of impartiality. Similar to the effect you’d achieve if you went around your home and labeling each object with a label maker—except that it’s done with a complete sentence, usually starting with the words “This is…”
I think the source of this “declarative” package design style is actually 1960s conceptual art.
Upper left: René Magritte, The Treachery of Images (La trahison des images) 1928–29; upper right: Joseph Kosuth, Titled (Art as Idea as Idea) The Word “Definition” 1966-68; lower left: John Baldessari, “Everything is purged from this painting but art, no ideas have entered this work.” 1966–68; lower right: Luis Camnitzer, This is a mirror. You are a written sentence., 1966
OK, I know Magritte is generally considered a surrealist, rather than a conceptual artist, but his paradoxical painted sentence “This is not a pipe” is perhaps the earliest and most influential example of an artwork referring to itself as “this.”
There are other variations involving personal pronouns…
(More declarative package design, after the fold…)
At top: Tradecraft paper products packaging designed by Studio Blackburn; at center: Help Remedies package design, originally by ChapssMalina and Little Fury, later “refreshed” by Pearlfisher; at bottom: “Let me be” package design by Bob Helsinki
When brand names address us in complete sentences using personal pronouns, it usually accomplishes one of two things. The package is either made to seem anthropomorphically cognizant (as in the “Let me be…” bottles above) or else the package is speaking for the consumer (as in Help Remedy’s statements like “Help, I’ve cut myself,” etc.)
Sometimes the pronoun can work either way as with Tradecraft’s declarative sentences like “I’m blowing poverty away” — a statement which could be coming from the product or the consumer who buys it.