Thursday, October 14, 2010

The Branding Mastery of Field Notes

I remember first seeing these Field Notes notebooks thanks to my classmate Mr. Sean Batac a year or so ago. It's a simple and pleasant little empty notebook, identical in shape to a plethora of others, but there is something about them that sets them very much apart. No, it's not the fact that they are all set in Futura (although it is gorgeously done) but something else. Visiting their website you can see that they have many variations of a similar style employing different colors schemes, themes, subscription services, pens, pencils and even a calender and a boxset(!) to create a diverse brand. Now, maybe my interest is tethered to our recent readings in our Design Theory class, but I think this company is a fantastic example of how powerful branding and good design are. They have taken are relatively dull little notebook and transformed it into an object of desire.

Part of what prompted my renewed interest was the fact that their "Raven Wing" series has recently sold out. As you can see in the link, it is the same design and layout as the other notebooks, but the website explains the differences "The outside cover is letterpress-debossed and varnished, black-on-black. The charcoal-colored inside cover is printed in black on a vintage offset press". That's it, just a change of color, vintage printing techniques and some debossing. The simple fact that this minor change contributed to the books being completely sold out, while the other numerous and similar options remain in stock is fascinating. Reading through the post explaining the process of making the books gives a narrative to the object, it shows how they were made and expands your experience with the notebook. This, I think, definitely contributes to peoples desire for the objects, plus they manage to make an already stylish item even more striking.

It's really quite brilliant and I think one of the most poignant and uncomplicated showcases of the power of design and branding. If such an attention to detail and narrative can be applied to something as seemingly banal as a notebook...imagine what other fascinating things are in store for this company and the creative team behind it. Keep your eyes on these guys and pick up some notebooks for good measure, they are quality notebooks, paper and all.

(All Photos are from the Field Notes Website.)

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