Have Brand, Will Travel


In an consumer society like ours, image is everything. Minyanville.com contributor Diane Bullock takes a look at the products that slide upmarket or downmarket, in perception at least, when they travel.

Let’s say you’re not the most popular person in town. Whether earned or not, a certain reputation follows your every step like a dark, lingering shadow and no amount of bobbing and weaving can shake it off your trail.

So, what’s the easiest way to get distance from that unflattering persona? Distance...literally. Packing up and moving to a brand new place where no one knows you is an instant do-over, allowing you to shed your old skin for whatever face you want others to see.

The same rules of reinvention apply to even the most iconic of national brands. While companies may be forced to bear scarlet letters at home, those badges of shame can get Photoshopped right off their labels once they hang out a shingle on different soil. Minyanville has profiled six such image-challenged brands that went overseas for a change, and suddenly found themselves miraculously upmarket.

If you’ve visited the MoMA design store in Manhattan, you may have seen this high end, minimalist Japanese brand. Muji, which translates as “No Brand Goods,” specializes in sleek and streamlined products that adhere to a philosophy of unadorned beauty and simplicity in innovation and materials. The company’s guiding aesthetic aims to highlight the bare essence of form and function by eliminating all superfluous detail.

Take the “classic round design and easy-to-read face” that grace this mini analog clock.