Put My Name on It: the Personalization Obsession


Who remembers the nameplate necklaces that went mainstream in the 1990s thanks to Patricia Field’s brilliantly styled Carrie Bradshaw? I keep seeing them everywhere again, and while I first thought it’s just another 90’s  comeback, I discovered a bigger trend. Just a few weeks ago, luxury leather goods brand Mansur Gavriel announced their new offering: handcrafted monograms. And they are by far not the first to offer this in the luxury sector, Louis Vuitton has similar offerings and Chloé just joined the personalization game as well.

Personalization can now be found in almost every industry, from personal care & beauty to fashion, CPG to health & wellness. In fact, start-up Care/Of built their whole brand around it. You get vitamins are chosen just for you, so much so that they put your name on each little package (very instagramable too). Or think of the “share-a-coke” campaign, the simple idea of putting names on coke bottles led to a huge, global success and the first increase in sales in over a decade according to The Wall Street Journal. And if they are not putting your name on their products yet, they are using celebrity collaborations to make it more personal, Adidas x Pharrell, Selena Gomez x Coach, Louis Vuitton x Jeff Koons and so on.

Everyone who grew up with siblings knows of the importance of putting his/her name on things to maintain ownership. Our pets wore name tags in case they get lost. And my grandfather owned handkerchiefs with his initials on them. Crappy souvenir shops come to mind, where one  can buy keychains, mugs or so on with your name on it — at least if you were blessed with a generic name. It’s also a common sales technique to use someone’s name in order to acknowledge their identity and massage their ego.

The question is, why? Why is this mostly kitchy and dated concept so trendy? Why is the perceived value so much higher when it carries our name? And why is it resonating now?

Let’s first take a look at the driving forces behind the name craze; Millennials. Time Magazine called them the ‘Me Me Me Generation’, an article that shed light on the generation  after the baby boomers; a bunch of fame-obsessed narcissists. While the article is quite pessimistic about the now largest generation, what overlaps with many other reports is the idea that Millennials have been raised by parents who  told them they can be and achieve whatever they want. Is it the sense of feeling special and the permission they have to celebrate their individuality that makes them celebrate themselves with their names on all possible things?

Growing up with social media, Millennials are the first generation used to a more intimate relationship with the brands. The fact that you can talk to them directly on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram etc., breaks down  the walls of faceless corporations and invites customers to take part. Receiving a personalized product with your name on it feels like an invitation to become part of it, or, to put it in fashion terms, it almost feels like a micro-collaboration; Chloé x _____ (imagine your name here). Especially in the luxury industry, where each purchase brings you  closer to an aspirational self, and seems like putting your own name next to the brand elevates that experience.

A third reason might be that Millennials are broke due to student loan debt. Don’t get me wrong, they’re still being able to buy personalized bags and vitamins, but the big ticket items are currently out of reach. And milestones like buying a house or getting married are definitely on hold. This could be another reason why millennials make small purchases to feel more special. In a trend report for the year 2017, Sparks & Honey speaks about the trend of celebrating the mundane to make up for the lack of major life events. And if a really good burrito can be worthy of an engagement-level announcement on social media, imagine what a shampoo with your very own name on its pretty packaging can do.


Originally published on svabranding.com

The Fake ID

Appearances can be deceptive...but how deceptive. We question this in our latest project, The Fake ID. As brand strategists, we operate under the belief that logos do not make brands—but we wanted to explore how much power they have. So each day, we put a well-known logo on a seemingly incongruous product (think: Nike toothbrush) and asked ourselves, how believable is this? (...the same thing we asked ourselves right before we used our fake IDs for the first time.) We encourage you to take a look, ask yourself the same question, and follow us on Instagram for more...


The Time Suck


It really IS the most wonderful time of the year, because the Hater’s Guide to the Williams-Sonoma Catalog is here!

Speaking of the holidays, if you need a last-minute present do stop by our Gift Guide for inspiration.

In #bossnews, check out 2018’s top female-founded startups.

Things we love: Monogram’s Bullshit Shop

You can finally live all your ’90s childhood dreams by getting the Home Alone 2 experience at the Plaza Hotel.

More soothing art, this time courtesy of Adam Hillman.

AIM is officially dead, and it took all our embarrassing screen names with it. So bye bye, damngina06, chliinii_87, and sebi207—it was fun while it lasted.

The Time Suck


Two of Canada’s most well-known exports are teaming up to keep Millennial Pink alive.

Why yes, brand managers ARE superheros, and there’s a comic book to prove it.

Patagonia’s dropping truth bombs. Listen and take action.


The best inventions for 2017 range from miraculous (glasses that give sight to the blind) to worrying (selfie drones??).

The future looks bright...quite literally...thanks to Pantone.

The Time Suck


You guys, we made our first Gift Guide! Whether your recipient is a badass business woman, a sad bearded man, or Tyrion Lannister, we're here for you.

Speaking of beards and sadness, apparently you can festively decorate facial hair now.

"Bunker-style rooftop capsule" sounds vaguely terrifying/apocalyptic, but it's actually quite cool.

BLØW faves Odesza and Bonobo were nominated for 2018 Grammy Awards, so that's what we're listening to at work today (current jam: Kerala).

We've already predicted the oddest fashion item for 2018 (see LW's Time Suck), but let's look back at 2017’s contestants.

Does your neck need a nap? Try this.

You already know this, but we would be remiss if we didn’t mention England’s most eligible ginger bachelor has been taken off the market by an awesome American lady. Once again, we turn to Elle’s R. Eric Thomas for (the best) coverage.


In gifting, as in branding, it’s important to do research, know your audience, make deliberate choices—but this can be difficult and frustrating, so we went ahead and did it for you. We strategically analyzed culture, Netflix bingeology, other internet stuff, etc., to come up with unique and relevant gifts hand-selected for specific recipients—thereby freeing up time for you to do other things. Like...watch Netflix, probably.


Sad Topographies
Who's it for: Morose nomads

A couple years ago we heard Cartoon Network’s Head of Design, Jacob Escobedo, speak at a conference and it was such a treat (topics of discussion: Broken Bells, general awesomeness, disembodied goat heads). But his real gift was clueing us into the Sad Topographies insta. And now there’s a book! If Eeyore had frequent flier miles to burn, this would be his guide.

Astier de Villatte Grand Chalet Incense
Who's it for: Anyone who’s swapped hemp-linen blends for organic cashmere

Good God do we love this packaging (and the sophisticated scents, natch). Very possibly the first time we can use the words “incense” and “chic” in the same sentence—and since the ’70s staple is enjoying a resurgence, it won’t be the last.

Magic 8 Ball
Who's it for: Tyrion Lannister

TyLa is our most favorite Game of Thrones character, but he’s been in a slump, strategy-wise. At this point, a good ole Magic 8 Ball might be better at making decisions than he is, so that’s what we’re putting in his stocking. Here’s hoping our gift to proves to be unnecessary when GoT returns. 

Petra Island
Who's it for: Architecture enthusiasts you’ve sold your soul to; BLØW team members

New York's Petra Island boasts not one but TWO houses conceived by Frank Lloyd Wright—an especially relevant (if a teensy bit extravagant) gift as he would have been 150 this year. This is basically all of our dreams together at once, so if any of you are feeling extra generous, we’re here for it.

Friction: Passion Brands in the Age of Disruption
Who's it for: Startup founders

If Silicon Valley’s Pied Piper team was real and we were friends with them, this is what we’d give them. Since they’re not, and we’re not, we’re just going to end up gifting this to ourselves since Petra Island may not happen (your fault).

Conjoined Triangles of Success Poster
Who's it for: MBA grads who won’t stop talking about MBA things

Speaking of our favorite show, over the years Silicon Valley has given us so many glorious examples of how strategy exercises and tools can go awry: the NSFW "middle-out" brainstorm; the darkest, most hilarious SWOT analysis ever; and the definitely-bullshit-probably-taught-at-business-school Conjoined Triangles of Success model. Yeah, we’re probably going to gift this to ourselves as well (don’t judge—since it’s from Season 3 it’s on sale!).

Coast to Coast Coin
Who's it for: People who live in New York/LA and constantly complain about New York/LA

Give them this and tell them to get on with their lives.

The F.E. Castleberry x Greats Royale
Who's it for: Wes Anderson fans

Wes Anderson, that lanky human monument to deliberate, curated oddballity, is everywhere. He’s in our movie theaters, he’s in our Instagram feeds, he’s our dreams making sure Bill Murray shows up and everything looks super saturated. And now, he’s in our closets with these Royal Tenenbaums-inspired sneakers. (Just FYI, that film was released 16 years ago, and people are still making footwear about it.) Perfect for anyone who has strong feelings about tennis and Futura.

Aggretsuko Gear
Who's it for: Friends who spend happy hour talking about feeling unfulfilled (so...most people?)

Much has been made of Sanrio’s Gudetama, the perennially depressed egg yolk—but we find him a bit one-dimensional. Our fave is Aggretsuko, a newer addition to the company’s pantheon of increasingly relatable cartoon friends. This red panda spends her days pushing paper and hating her boss, and her nights swilling beer and listening to loud music to soothe her growing sense of discontentment. She tries to remain calm, but occasionally she loses her damn mind. Sound familiar? Yes it does.

Dude No. 1 Beard Oil
Who's it for: Det. Jim Hopper; brooding beardos in general

We’re living in a post-Stranger Things 2 world, and things are different (...dare we say stranger?) now. For example, Hawkins’ scruffy, melancholic police chief has emerged from the internets as the unlikeliest of meme gods/smoldering mancakes. Seems like he could use some nice things, so we’d gift him this beard oil. His response would likely be, “What the f*&k is this?” But you know what Hop? You’re a sex symbol now, bro. Keep it luxurious.

Overose Indasmin Candle
Who's it for: Millennials who can’t let go of fleeting trends

Millennial pink is a lovely color. Except it’s probably on its way out, trend-wise, which means Millennials can’t love it anymore. Except we’re Millennials and we’re still holding onto it, whatever the interwebs may say...so if you know know anyone suffering from a similar affliction, buy them this jasmine candle. It’s pretty, plus it smells like vacation.

Alice + Olivia Bridget Striped Sequin Dress
Who's it for: Millennials who need to stay ahead of fleeting trends

Despite our attachments, we've done some research into what 2018’s answer to Millennial pink will be and...it’s all over the place, you guys. We’ve heard bright yellow, we’ve heard red, we’ve heard teal...and even something called Gen-Z Green. So for the Millennial in your life that must be 3.14 steps ahead of every current trend at all times, hedge your bets and pick something with ALL THE COLORS. 

The Dresyln Tarot + Guide Book
Who's it for: Graphic designers who quote Chani Nicholas

Moon Juice. Soul tattoos. Astro drinks.  The (new) New Age is here in force, man—and whatever your feelings about it, it is well designed. Case in point: this beautiful, minimalist tarot deck from LA institution The Dreslyn. Will it accurately predict recipients their future? Ask again later. Will it look good on their coffee table at parties? 100%.

Thom Browne Appliqued Cardigan
Who's it for: Tonya Harding

Say what you will about Tonya—she’s given us so much: one of the weirdest, most out-of-leftfield sports scandals in history and enough stranger-than-fiction fodder for an excellent ESPN 30 for 30 documentary PLUS the biopic I, Tonya. (It’s coming out in a few weeks and we are more excited about it than the actual winter holiday.) Anyways, we wanted to give something back, so we present her this loud, unapologetically kitschy cardigan.

Home Alone: The Authorized Coloring Book
Who's it for: Human persons who live in society

Adult coloring books are still around—and this is clearly the best one. If the recipient can’t appreciate this, you may want to reconsider your relationship with them.

Greenwich Letterpress Romy Motel Key Tag
Who’s it for: Boss bosses

This is for all our favorite business women out there. May you invent the next Post-it.


The Time Suck

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In the words of Liz Lemon, we want to go to there. (It’s hard to describe what “there” is so we’ll let the article do the talking: “It's like a massive conglomeration of melted gumdrops...that's somehow both exhilarating and oh-so-calming.”)

More news in calming color coordination: check out these soothing gradients made out of everyday objects.

Thoughtful product naming is important, and no one understands that better than the citizens of Sydney, AU, who voted to name their new harbour ferry Ferry McFerryface.

The Met’s 2018 Costume Institute exhibition will be Catholic themed so...we’ll just be over here quietly dreading the emergence of the fashion cassock (fassock?).

Blake Shelton has been named Sexiest Man Alive and over at Elle, BLØW fave R. Eric Thomas has DOUBTS. As do we #voteforidris

Rutgers University has a puppy-raising club and we’re all going back to college now bye bye.

The Time Suck


Move over, pickling and pumpkin spice everything—there are new food trends in town.

Agriculture x raves, happening now in Tokyo.

You should probably start rapping all your pitches, FYI.

Instructions for sandwich making/LIIIIFE.

Take a look at who won Transform Awards this year for rebranding and brand development.

We want to live in a Tishk Barzanji image.

Is your New Year’s resolution to be more quirky in 2018? Then get this calendar from BLØW fave Marc Johns.

This low-budget, live-action Thor beats out big-screen Thor and also every other movie ever made.

The Time Suck

The Time Suck

Today in adorableness: a tiny hedgehog goes camping.  Image via Design Taxi

Today in adorableness: a tiny hedgehog goes camping. Image via Design Taxi

AMNT's cavernous Mineral Hall, designed in the 1970s, is getting a 21st-century upgrade...and we're mad at it #tbh #lastdaysofdisco

Our fave Frank Lloyd Wright would have been 150 this year. In honor of that, a look at Tokyo’s Imperial Hotel.

Keep your puppers and your doggos. We have bro cat.

Threework makes the dream work … (sorry)

Summon your inner basicness via the deity that is Amazon.

Forget Porn Hub. Let’s talk about Pun Hub.

This plane in Berlin buzzed the tower. Because it feels the need. The need for speed.

The Time Suck

Our favorite procrastinational finds this week.

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The garbage fire on wheels that is the MTA spurs creative solutions.

McSweeney’s offers a culture-conscious alternative to the open-plan office.

The Plaza has an etiquette class at which you can de-millennialify yourself.

Compartes and Kelly Wearstler combine our favorite food group with our favorite design style.

Björk interviewed herself. Of course she did.

First dating, then friends, now networking. What’s next from Bumble—an app that connects you with long lost family members?


Carefully developed and highly questionable opinions; unique insights (both real and imagined).




The Official Fyre Guide to Business

At a time when our world seems particularly divided, fraught with aggression and conflict, we take comfort in the fact that we have been brought together by one commonly held belief: this year’s inaugural Fyre Festival was a complete and utter runway success. Inspired by the unparalleled acumen and mind-blowing achievements of the co-founders, a 25-year-old and Ja Rule,  we compiled pro tips on how to run a business and host events that are the total opposite of a dumpster fire (fyre!) in President Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Dungeon for Not Nice People. Pay close attention, entreprelennials—this is your roadmap.

  1. Use some form of the word “disrupt” at least thrice daily (only counts if written).

  2. Engage strategic partners to elevate your brand and build consumer awareness. Underwear models are the most strategic.

  3. If you have promised new luxury accommodations to clients, there is no need to hire a construction company. Say “Tesla Model S” out loud four times at midnight and clap your hands—this will summon the helper gnomes, who will build an infinite amount of bungalows complete with swim-up bars, chakra-balancing chambers, and three-person showers.

  4. Embrace disruption.

  5. If you’re too busy with yachts to summon the helper gnomes in a timely fashion, remember: glamping is for the enlightened, but solid roofing and also reality are for the poors.

  6. Current mood: ayahuasca trip.

  7. Eleven Madison Park is maybe definitely including bread-and-cheese sandwiches on its current eleven-course retrospective menu, so that should be your catering go-to for any business function.

  8. Cash and credit cards are very Middle America—the only acceptable form of payment is a #tbh.

  9. Y is a much more baller letter than I, so replace the latter with the former at every available opportunity. This practice is innovative, disruptive, and confusing to zero people.

  10. Music.

  11. All Instas must be #straightfire (fyre!). Otherwise crawl back to the cave you came from.

  12. Always ideate BEFORE you create (unless it’s Opposite Day, or if Vibes are telling you otherwise).

  13. Eat failure for breakfast (except when you’re cleansing, which should be always) so that you can dine on success for dinner (except when you’re cleansing, which, again, should be always).