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November 2010

Mr Blog's Best Ever Blog Post

Earlier this year, we began a project called Mr Blog, aimed at documenting all the ‘Mr’ shops on Britain’s high streets. Since then, the estimable Mr Blog and his sidekick Mr Tweets have documented around 80 shops, ranging from Mr News to Mr Vacuum Cleaner.

Today was a special day as Mr Blog posted his best ever sighting: Herr Kutz of Southampton.

Beyond the puns and wordplay (which are good enough in themselves), there is something quite inspiring about all the brands Mr Blog has featured. Most of them are independent local businesses instinctively tapping into a form of branding that works brilliantly on its own terms: advertising clearly the service on offer, and giving it a nice personality.

It’s been good fun exploring the way they write about themselves on their websites, or advertise themselves on their signage. While they may be worlds away from the sophisticated strategies of high-end brand consultancies, these brands nevertheless show a similar desire to play with language to build a personality and tell a story. (As does Mr Blog himself, whose personality has emerged over the course of his blogging – something that was only loosely intended at the start.)

Despite reaching this undoubted peak today, the project will continue for the foreseeable future, at least while there are still Misters to be blogged.

Follow all the developments at mr-blog.com and twitter.com/mr_tweets

Anyone fancy buying HBOS?

Intrigued to come across this story about an auction of defunct brand names taking place in New York next month.

The auction includes 150 trademarks and their associated domain names. Most are American brands that won’t ring many bells over here. (I probably won’t be forking out for Bum’s Sports Bars or the Relaxacizor.) However, in among all the unfamiliar names, there are some very familiar ones indeed.



Anyone fancy buying the rights to HBOS?



Or Punch magazine?



Or Mum, the first ever commercial deodorant, launched in 1888?



It would be lovely to revive the British Overseas Airways Corporation, whose design materials are often the highlight of Ephemera Society Fairs.



Possibly the most melacholy entry on the list is search engine Infoseek, founded in 1994 and attracting 7.3 million visitors a month at its peak. I found that out on Google.


One of the reasons lost brands are so evocative is that brands have a way of infiltrating everyday life to the point that they seem as eternal as the rocks or the trees. Occasionally, we're reminded that they're not. For anyone who works in the business, it's also sobering to think of the thousands of hours invested in each one of these brands – poring over mission statements, tweaking logos, putting in the late nights on the latest marketing campaign. And all for what?

Still, at least it's good material for poetry. I wrote this one a while back (and may need to update it soon):


What if?

What if Cif was Jif?
What if Olay was Ulay?
What if Morrisons was Safeway?
What if C was still &A?

What if Treets were still sweets?
What's with Immac and Veet?
What if Fruits were still Opal?
Whither Constantinople?

Wasn't there a shop once
called What Everyone Wants?
Where did everyone go?
How come Do It All don't?

What if Liptons lived on?
Where's Radion gone?
Why did Boo take a bow?
Where's our Principles now?

What of Kwiksave and Cullens
and Dolcis and Dillons?
And Marathon bars?
Is Our Price still ours?

Why did Rumbelows close?
What if nobody knows?

By the way, all the auction stuff should come with a heavy health warning – forking out for the 'rights' may be a ticket to get embroiled in a massive lawsuit with other people claiming to hold the same trademark. I'll probably give it a miss.

Rumbelows picture by Jon Combe.

Beer, talking


I’m going to the Old Truman Brewery in London this Thursday (11 November) to take part in a D&AD Sharp’ner event called Pads, pens and yellow pencils.

The theme is Writing for Design and the other panellists are John Simmons, Ceri Tallett, Jim Davies and Will Awdry. Each of us is giving a short talk, followed by a more open audience discussion.

It's good to see an event dedicated to Writing for Design – there should be plenty to talk about.

More importantly, the whole thing is taking place in a former brewery with a well-stocked bar.

Tickets are free for D&AD members and £5 for others.

My Blue Peter Diamond Jubilee Logo Contest Submission


Thank you for your logo contest for six to 14-year-olds to make a logo for your Diamond Jubilee I am very excited!

At this stage I am submitting a credentials proposal outlining my suitability for the project. I would be happy to present some of my first creative ideas upon successful appointment and having discussed the brief with you in more detail!

My credentials are that in the holidays I did do a drawing of a sheep that looked like a dog but it wasn't it was a sheep and the teacher said it was a good picture of a sheep and now it is on my fridge my mum put it there. When I was 6 (I am 6½ now) I did a painting of my house but it wasn't as good and it got paint everywhere!

I am good at drawing and painting and things and I like the Queen she's nice but I don't like the Prince of Wales.

Please can I do the logo you want. I usually charge on a project basis rather than a daily rate and will discuss the fee with you in advance depending on your budget but I hope it's a lot because you're the Queen. I will retain the copyright on the work until the Queen has paid for it.

Please let me know when you want to meet to discuss this and I will pretend to be sick so I can get off school.



PS: While I am working on the logo for you, can the Queen come and do my homework. Also I would like a Blue Peter badge so I can sell it on eBay.