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Dear Outsiders,
Too many totes. Who is out there touting this as the default brand merch?? Whoever it is, they are doing a great job. Is it because we’re not meant to use plastic bags anymore?
Producing fabric bags is not sustainable either, right?…
The other gripe is that they think I am going to carry around their logo. What am I, your free billboard? 
That's a lazy design decision to slap a logo on everything. I’ve seen it in the studio with my own eyes. Reflexive logo-application because "it needs branding". A sophisticated result happens when you ditch this habit. Evolve your visuals. We call it going Post-Logo.
Read on,

– Jess


Outsider 135



Boy do I wish I had a dollar for every time I have been given or offered a tote bag recently. At events, in stores, even with online orders – the level of totel tote-dom has reached critical mass.
The odd part is that one is meant to see this as a gift more often than a practicality. When you’re leaving an event they give you an empty bag (!?). I know we talk about altruism a lot – but this is not generosity.

If you’re giving me tote with your logo on it, that is not a gift.

That is a billboard.

I am giving you the gift.
The gift of free advertising.




 (^If we had a dollar for every time we said that, too!)
Are you consciously and deliberately working for that logo? Or is it unpaid promotion?
The abhorrence at being non-asked to work for someone may not be there for all of us though.



If you say that fast it almost sounds like status quo!
The Status Tote is an emblem (/symptom) of current culture. The Status Tote sees the user deliberately carrying a certain logo-ed tote not just as a hold-all but as a signifier about themselves. The brand on the bag is meant to tell passers-by’s something about the person carrying it, projecting a notion of the user’s choosing.

Museum totes, fashion brand totes, event totes, band merch totes, foreign-country-grocery-store totes (when I was in Italy you see...)


“…There’s no denying that prestige tote bags are on the rise.

Totes communicate in a more nuanced language now.”

– – –

"... A Judd Foundation option does a fine job of informing strangers you’ve been to Marfa, but a bag from the Get Go family-run super market there demonstrates a more discerning awareness of the local culture.”

NY Times ‘The Strategist’ e-com blog
– Katy Schneider and Lauren Levy
(not worth clicking. believe us)

Turns out there are also levels of in-the-know in the choice of tote too. How complex the decision of who you want the world to read you as through your bag!

Even if you would like to produce totes, they have higher likelihood of going cult if you do something beyond your logo on it. (Easier to make a cult-tote than a cult-brand).

The visual identities of brands/projects/initiatives have never been more extensive. There is variation in quality, yes, but good ones are easy to find and easy to make.

No longer is it simply a logo, a typeface and a palette – et voilà. We've created entire visual ecosystems around brand identities.

Responsive logos, counterpart-symbols and motifs, themes for imagery, hierarchies of typefaces, patterns and textures (are you more geometric or a playful doodle?), nuanced palettes and styles of animation, statements and aphorisms, compositional character and interaction movement... the list goes on. 

Why is it then that companies still insist on putting their logos everywhere? Why develop such sophisticated identities if you're only going to use them in the least-sophisticated manner?

Did you make that whole visual identity for it to sit in a deck?






Lazy creative uses the logo as a design element. Creative-creative goes beyond the logo into the visual ecosystem and brings the brand to life. Top-notch creative-creative will make the output equally branded (read: recognisable) as sticking a logo on it – but in a manner 1000000x more sophisticated.
If your free tote bag had an illustration or a statement on in – in your handwriting, your palette, your typeface, your everything – I may be more likely consider it a gift. It certainly will be more likely to be used.

This is an example of creating a full visual ecosystem to play within. Check out how chic it is. No logo, yet identifiable in a glance.

Think before you make a tote.
Think before you take a tote.
And this is where we leave you.

Do you have thoughts on this week’s topic? As always, send ‘em in.

– Jess

A bookstore in London suddenly received calls and calls from South Korea of people wanting to buy their tote bag by the hundreds. Turns out it had gone cult without their knowing!


>>> READ: The Trend Sweeping Seoul <<<

Outsider is a counter-culture punch from inside the creative industry.

Promoting real life interaction. Pro-offline.

It came into being after watching client after client come seeking 'relevance' with 'millennials' and crying inside. Seeing misconceptions on the efficacy of social media rise. 

Named Outsider as, like Outsider Art, we observed that no/informal training cultivates greater instinct and disregard for 'rules' and established systems.

Jess is a pseudonym to keep the digital footprint of our real identity to zero.

Born 1991 but knowing better than old man CEO's.

Secret Access to past issues here.


This is not a trend forecast agency.
We will show you what you should be doing today. Yesterday.

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