I (STILL) ❤️ NY
As you might have seen, Milton Glaser’s iconic ‘I ❤️ NY’ logo that has proudly captured the essence of the state and the city for the past 45 years, has had a makeover for the post-emoji world of digital natives. And while the 3D embellishment of the heart may be an ugly and overt attempt to appeal to a new generation that boomer marketeers seem to think exclusively favour non-verbal communication, the particularly grating aspect of the brand overhaul is in fact a linguistic one.
FROM ME TO WE
‘We ❤️ NY’ Do we? Do ‘we’? A minor word change that apparently better reflects New Yorker’s renewed sense of community in the wake this century’s latest catastrophes. A way to take on a more inclusive positioning and move beyond the supposedly limiting and old-fashioned notion of individualism. The reality; never has New York been more exclusive. It is more about division and relentlessly forging, fighting for your own path, ruthlessly pulling up the ladder behind you, as you climb the career floors of Manhattan’s skyscrapers. It is a city of individuals – a city of ‘I’s that are proud to be conquering their version of New York. I ❤️ NY.
A SELFISH REALITY
This frustrating rebrand raises an important question for brands across different categories: Can every brand really be ‘inclusive’?
It is the buzzword of so many briefs, but does every brand really have the right to claim inclusivity – or should some brands double down on their exclusivity? Diverse, sure. Progressive, absolutely. Invite everyone in – yes, everyone deserves to experience your brand. But consumers have always wanted to see themselves reflected in the brands they associate with. And consumers are selfish. They live in a selfish world. The pandemic and cost-of-living crisis are not pulling people together in communities of support networks (despite a neo-romanticism narrative). Instead, it has created collections of independent consumers, desperately searching for ways to get ahead and succeed in a world that is determined to beat them down. Brands that can identify and tap into the selfishness of their consumers are the ones that will be successful. Trying to force them to be part of a collective whole is a waste of time. Because the collective aren’t going anywhere.
But you could. I could.
WORK THEM OUT
The focus on ‘I’ is driving the success of lifestyle health clubs taking over the abandoned office spaces in post-covid Manhattan. Take Equinox, a luxury gym with 41 of its 100+ enviable global city venues, based in New York. While other gyms were offering January promotions, Equinox publicly suspended new membership applications. An exclusive move which demonstrated Equinox’s deep understanding of their consumer: those who are looking to maximise their potential… not cheer on a group of chubby deal hunters burning off Christmas indulgence. Equinox is not a brand about community or belonging. It represents a premium lifestyle of independent success which revolves totally, obnoxiously, and teetering on arrogantly, around you. Members of Equinox do not wake up on January 1st, thinking they should do something about their bloating bellies. They’re already at the gym. Winning. For themselves. No-one else.
LONG LIVE THE KING
Alright, the performance space is pretty synonymous with exclusivity, personal ambitions and a more selfish mindset. So, let’s go to a category that is for everyone. Butter.
Lurpak. Yes Lurpak. The butter brand for those striving for the best. It’s not all about treating yourself to a premium brand that is confidently the best butter money can (just about still) buy. Lurpak is also a small symbolic badge of meeting the ridiculously high standards society has set for you. It’s that moment you spread Lurpak on a borderline mouldy piece of toast as you power up a laptop that has barely cooled from the night before. In that moment, that micro moment – you’ve made it. You’ve fucking made it. Middle aged mums in the country with three empty bedrooms are matter-of-factly popping Lurpak on the breakfast table with fresh croissants and Panettone. But here you are, in your ‘not-even-close to central’ box apartment spreading it thick like a king. A king of your own castle. There is no group here. No community. Only you.
NO ‘WE’ IN NYC
Lurpak is New York. A brand all about ‘I’. A brand all about personal achievement and single-minded success. Equinox is New York. A brand all about an independent mindset to be the best – actively locking the doors to failures and consumers who rely on the group for motivation. These are brands doubling down on an exclusive positioning that demonstrates a deep understanding of the selfishness of their consumers and what their brand represents. Unlike New York which, despite being a city full of ambitious individuals… and very much still a city for driven and selfish individuals… is disingenuously trying to project itself to the world as an inclusive and connected community.
We want brands to say something, be something for who we are as individuals. And yes, there others like us. But brands don’t need to be for everyone else. It’s time for brands to kick the inclusivity bucket and home in on their selfish consumers.
Have we reached peak inclusivity for brands? Let’s hope so.
If you’d like to learn more about how Haines McGregor can support your innovation or brand challenges email Hayley.firstname.lastname@example.org or call on +44 7787 546747.