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Signs of Life

Why Brands Matter

Niet­zsche said that all of life is a ques­tion of taste. And he was right. But nowa­days all of life is also a ques­tion of brand­ing. A brand is not some­thing con­coct­ed by graph­ic design­ers and mar­ket­ing con­sul­tants; rather, it is the tan­gi­ble aspect of an intan­gi­ble thing’, as Mas­si­mo Vignel­li (who re-brand­ed the New York sub­way) explained. Brand val­ues are the expec­ta­tions and asso­ci­a­tions that all suc­cess­ful – and indeed unsuc­cess­ful – prod­ucts and ser­vices embody. And now they are under threat from Health & Safe­ty. Ugly, gener­ic pack­ag­ing for cig­a­rettes will soon be manda­to­ry. Bans on attrac­tive pre­sen­ta­tion for sug­ar, alco­hol and auto­mo­biles will log­i­cal­ly fol­low. Signs of Life is a unique polemic in cul­tur­al his­to­ry, which argues that brands and brand­ing are not per­ni­cious, manip­u­la­tive voodoo, but an eco­nom­i­cal­ly and cul­tur­al­ly pre­cious folk-art.

Stephen Bay­ley is an author, crit­ic, colum­nist, con­sul­tant, broad­cast­er, cura­tor and found­ing direc­tor of the influ­en­tial Design Muse­um in Lon­don. Over the past thir­ty years his writ­ing has changed the way the world thinks about design. He is the author of the crit­i­cal­ly acclaimed Death Dri­ve – There Are No Accidents.

Flo Bayley

21 x 16cm
8¼ × 6¼ in
Approx. 70 b&w and colour illustrations
£24.95 | $35

ISBN 978-1-911422-10-5