Brooklyn the Brand, Redux

When last we mentioned the Brooklyn Brand, it was to highlight the visual clues local designers are using to reflect the terroir of this unique borough. Now, thanks to the New York Times, we can consider the label D.I.Y. chic: a deliciously flippant description of the local tinkering and creative design of everything from Williamsburg chocolate manufacturers to, yes, pickles.

The article highlights how Brooklyn’s Brand connects with an audience beyond the confines of Kings County; in this case, an audience gravitating towards goods that speak to their aesthetically-aware sensibilities.  Hidden within, however, is the danger of a sub-par product wrapped in a superior design, a problem at the crux of the Brooklyn Brand debate (a conflict epitomized by The Brooklyneer, a Manhattan-based bar that sent bloggers howling).

How did we go from praise to a sense of unease in such a short period?  Well, for one, Brooklyn is both blessed and cursed with a fiercely proud and technically-savvy citizenry. Local blogs abound as arbiters of what actually represents the community versus what’s merely a hollow dud – and recently, it seems, the marketplace for Brooklyn-oriented manufacturing seems to be gathering steam a bit too quickly for the Brooklyn-based tech-set.

And yes, it does sound rather dry, but the D.I.Y. chic movement – if that is what you’d call it – is massively successful as far as grassroots businesses go: Williams-Sonoma, the Gap, and Ford Motors are just a trio of major companies angling to connect with the scene in one way or another.

Branding, then, ought to reflect your audience while imparting the authenticity of your message: the sleekest design cannot withstand the criticism offered by the Internet crowd if it’s merely cool for cool’s sake. The community will provide inspiration inasmuch as you add to it.