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Grasping the undercurrent consumer today, the hipster, starts with understanding what appeals to them and why. I'll start with branding basics, the logo, to cultivate an idea of core principles behind in hipster-friendly brands. From there, we'll shift into what makes a hipster tribe, how to create brand buzz, and why the art of doing nothing is the best strategy for hipster brands.
In the last couple years, we've seen a push away from composite logos and a push toward simpler more text-reliant logos. If there is a graphic element, the graphic conforms to or works with the text. Reference, for example, the TIME article called “Here's what Hipster Brand Logos Would Look Like if They Were Redesigned to be Corporate.”
According to the article, “Cornett, a Kentucky ad agency that does creative for A&W, decided to take on the task of shaving off brands’ handlebar mustaches for a more clean cut look.” The article itself tells you what we need to know about branding shifts, which is that we're moving away from corporate presence and they're in favor of a “cleaner” simpler aesthetic. People don't respond to chunky corporate logos. Not only do they not favor a corporate aesthetic, they don't like the stone wall mentality of a corporation. Consumers want to interact with the product or service. We want to feel like we're a part of the story – and a corporate brand just doesn't allow for that.
Zinteractive Blog wrote an article called “Principles of Hipster Marketing,” in which they described how Hipsters love to feel like they're making a difference. If you recall last week's article on iPad Air's advertisement, you'll recall how they also including this millennial group by having a branch off marketing campaign called “Your Verse”. The idea was the open the platform to consumers by inviting them to share how they use the Apple product to do same.
As much as hipsters love to be individuals, they're in fact part of a rich dense clout. Malcom Gladwell called them tribes; groups of people that make up your community. They think like you, act like you, and share similar beliefs. And despite their own best efforts, hipsters very well marketed to brand giants. In fact, marketing has become quite adept in manipulating this tribe to push their own brands.
Take the example of PBR beer. An article by the The Context of Things titled “PBR and Hipsters: Maybe the Best Marketing is to Avoid the Big Marketing, Eh?” shared how they targeted this demographic. First they purposefully denied celebrity offers for endorsement (and made it public, ensuring everyone knew about it). Then they favored the locals, “they sponsored were the Portland hipsters. They sponsored skateboarding meets, art galleries, independent publishers, and they did it in such a way as to not appear corporate. With every little event they sponsored, they built their network, they built brand loyalty among subcultures that hate corporations, hate marketing, and were previously thought immune to such tactics. Having Kid Rock endorse them would have cost 500k, hiring 10 reps per city to go convince small bars and neighborhood institutions to carry PBR cost the same and was much more effective.”
The brand element to watch here is how PBR for example defined themselves. They established a brand based on the consumer, rather than a separate identifier that they only after would try and connect to the audience. So rather, for example, than having a beer they tried to brand as relatable, PBR became relatable. PBR was already known for its marginal cost and scarcity – two seeming drawbacks that they harvested as strengths, which they would have lost if they chased celebrity endorsements.