[Bitcoinomics.Net Chief Editor, Justin O’Connell]

Originally appeared at Bitcoinomics

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A brand logo used to be a status symbol, as was the case for Abercrombie & Fitch (A&F), which had a logo associated over the past decade-plus with cool kids (or…not cool kids?) among American teenagers and college kids. But coming this spring, that logo will exist no longer in the US.

“In the spring season, we’re looking to take the North American logo business to practically nothing, but protect logo in international stores,” Abercrombie Chief Executive Officer Mike Jeffries said. “The logo business is larger in Hollister, and that becomes a little more difficult to overcome than it has in A&F, although we’re overcoming that in both brands.”

The brand does not command the elitism it did a decade ago among American teenagers and college kids. But uncertainty over the future of logos is a problem currently experienced by forward-thinking marketing directors throughout the US.

In their 1981 song “Shit From An Old Notebook” from the album Double Nickels On The Dimes, singer/songwriter D. Boon sings:

Let the products sell themselves
Fuck advertising, commercial psychology
Psychological methods to sell should be destroyed

What seems to be a radical position asserted by D. Boon might not seem so radical for the people in the marketing department at Abercrombie & Fitch.

The company said their logo in the US market would be reduced to “practically nothing” by next spring. The departure from loud logos represents the end of an era for Abercrombie.

The brand had been made on customers who believed that A&F was a status symbol. This allowed the company to get away with $35 T-shirts. Celebrities were even spotted sporting Abercrombie, and celebrities set the trends for much of the human collective. This provided a source of free marketing for the brand.

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Millenials, though, want little to do with A&F and logos generally. A&F won’t only do away with logos – its racy advertising and “nighclub vibe” in stores is also on the chopping block. Apparently, “cool” is no longer “cool”.

A Non-Future For Logos?

What are the implications for A&F now and in the future? One thing is for sure, the quality of their clothing and their prices will play more of a role moving forward. This is a general trend in all industries as the internet creates real-time sources of information for individuals.

Although A&F has not indicated this, what’s being seen in the US market for the brand will soon take foot in Europe. What becomes trendy or normalized in the US oftentimes finds its way towards European markets. This has been a solid trend since “America” was victorious in World War II.

So, the A&F logo, one day soon, will be “practically nothing” in both US and Europe, the historic cores of western civilization. Thereafter, the logo dissolves to nothing in peripheral markets, though that might take 10-20 years.

Will the A&F evolution leak into other companies and industries? I believe this to be likely as the internet will force truth and good information into marketing. The marketing of the future will serve more purposes than brand-promotion. It will have to be interesting, informative and possibly even interactive. Marketing, instead of serving as a portal into services and products, will itself become a service and product.

Does Bitcoin Need A Logo?

Bitcoin has gone through two logos in its brief existence. Here is the first:

300px-Bitcoin

And here is the second, more modern logo:

download

What the A&F experience hints is that, in the near future, logos will be a status symbol, not of wealth but of poverty and lack of critical thinking skills. A person wearing any brand will be perceived as possibly owning stake in the brand (in whatever form that might take) or as being a patsy for the brand.  In other words, wearing a T-Shirt you paid for, which has someone elses logo on it, whom you don’t personally know, will be seen as an act of submission to another by others.  Exceptions, of course, will be made in many outlying circumstances, such as belief in an idea behind a brand or personal relationships and so on. The idea is that, if you’re gonna wear someone elses brand, they should be paying you. You’re their (often unwitting) advertisement. Why not just print up your own T-Shirts? Today it is cheaper and easier than ever before.

With distributed networks, as opposed to centralized corporations, the case against singular logos becomes clearer. In the instance of Bitcoin, which functions as a p2p company – or “Decentralized Autonomous Corporation” (DACs) –  one can see how there is really no single underlying philosophy underpinning the Bitcoin protocol, which is itself incapable of opinion-making, and its users, who are, but don’t all share the same philosophies. The technology fascinates and inspires people of a great many backgrounds. So how then can one symbol or logo represent the variety of something like Bitcoin? It can’t. It can unify, but subtler means than a blunt logo can theoretically do the same for unifying a group.

The notion of a traditional company using at least two logos is gaining acceptance. In a 2013 article, Entrepreneur.com contributor Karen Leland asked the question, “Can a company use two logos?” Although that article details whether or not a brand can move to a new logo, I think that we’ve all experienced nostalgia for old logos as opposed to newer ones.  Julia Tourianski recently experienced this when asked her audience about a new logo for her brand “Brave The World.” The new logo was rejected by most for the old logo. And so she kept the old logo but incorporated the other design into her marketing anyway. In other words, she ultimately deduced it was not a “one or the other” problem as C-Level executives might have assumed in the past. In a way, by providing more than one logo, a company can show its dedication to supporting its consumer’s individuality.

As more content is widely available, and more people have the capacity to create content, the “disciplines” of art, writing, science, journalism, and so on and so forth will all grow more competitive. New technologies and companies will be forced to re-think the box. This suggests a world without logos. Or, quite possibly although contrary, a world of more logos than ever before. Bitcoin has already hinted at this new paradigm. As you’ll see, Bitcoin already has many logos.

Originally appeared at Bitcoinomics

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936314_656630989723_594477668_nJustin O’Connell is the Chief Executive Officer of GoldSilverBitcoin.  He is also the author of the bitcoin book, Bitcoinomics, and administrator of the Bitcoinomics website. Justin is also a co-host at Our Very Own Special Show, a lifestyle podcast about music, news, life and other topics, and head researcher at The Dollar Vigilante.  He lives in San Diego, California.