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Beyond Branding is written by members of The Medinge Group

The Beyond Branding blog

October 08, 2004

Spot the brand? 

The 'BlackSpot' is coming...

Blackspot sneakers are finally in production, the first product brainchild of the 14 year-old adbusters anticorporation.
They will hit the UK by December.

Blackspot positions itself as an anti-brand, from an anticorporation: it offers fair labour; sustainable materials and hand-drawn logos - and aims to kick Nike CEO Phil Knight's arse.

A curse on all brands.

In some ways the idea of an 'antibrand' is just as flawed as Kevin Robert's 'Lovemarks' conceit.

On the surface, Blackspot is just offering ethical folk a means of self-identification, and identification is what brands do. A small community of people created an idea, and asked others to buy into it. That's what companies do.

However, dig a little deeper, and underlying both is the same insight, that brands must come to stand for what they are, not just what they say.

Like ROMP, blackspot offers customers a chance to buy the change they want to see in the world. More interesting is the fact that Blackspot built its order book before finding production, and is using mutualist principles to build a community, united in a rejection of branding.

Just like the beyond branding crew, Lasn has successfully critiqued the process of branding, but not the existence or power of brands. Brands are just shards of reality. You can choose to build a stained glass window, or you choose to stab people..

Blackspot is successfully turning the ostensive mechanisms of capitalism to promote mutualism instead.

As a purchaser of a pair of blackspots, I have also a shareholder in the company, which promises to operate like a actively engage its customers as a community, to determine future strategy and direction.

I really hope it can live up to this bold vision and the early signs are good.

Blackspot explicitly offers its users the power to shape the brand as they wish. It is a logical next step along the Steal This Brand pathway.

The next step for blackspot would be to grant its suppliers voting-shares too and embrace real brand democracy...

Hang on You steal my sub-brand : blackspot. Appears in Chapter 1 of Brand Chartering Handbook, and is due for a reappearance in next book MAP!  
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