There is a certain … pace … that comes along with surf culture. I’ve been on constant vacation it seems. I’m off to Sonoma this weekend as well (more on how that will feed into next month’s brand later). I know, my life is the worst.
I’m supposed to be doing something, right? Right. Images. Sketches. Gah, the sun is so resplendent.
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I want Quando to feel this way. I want it to be soaked in nostalgia, in a haze of summer days and smiling. Something I found from looking at a bunch of surf boards at Huntington Beach, CA was this acid wash color motif on the newer boards. Those and the old school wooden boards are very much back. Of course they are merely veneering over a fiberglass frame (mostly, though there are some out there 100% wooden), but the wood brings such a vintage and natural feel to the sport.
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There’s always been a look and feel for a rock n’ roll rush in this market. Surfing is, after all, a rough and dangerous sport, inclined to injury, extremely difficult to master and an exercise in patience and judgment. But with it comes the beach, arguably the best part about it all, and with that come bathing suits, ice cream, fuel from the sun and the brewing of hormones. Sex and thrills have clearly been attached to the fashion of the industry, but so has the impetus to target a youth that strives to be different and new and stand out from other conventions. From there, you get even more punk, the scratchy and dirty and torn looks, and of course the hazard and leather looks. This is what I’ve seen out there, and from piles of surf magazines and websites, you can see it too. But then, how do you truly distinguish a brand in which all competing brands begin to look the same in their goal of distinguishing themselves?
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Trends seem to follow either pocheed futuristic blade shapes or foamy imperfect grunge, both of which are influenced by a neo avant garde style of type (whether they know they are or not) or the dance music steered tightly kerned industrial gothics. Some particulars shine through however with a little merit to their madness. Oakley, though clearly hoping to be in the penthouse of beach targets, has a simplicity that is fully recognizable to most consumers in America today. Quicksilver has revamped their old logo to go the Lord & Taylor route by making it completely illegible and in doing so, distinguished themselves with mindful messiness and spirit.
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The company I’d like to focus upon however is one called HIC (Hawaiian Island Creations), of which I had never heard before my visit to the west coast. A company started by brothers in Hawaii in 1971, they had one Paul Ichimura design their logo. A little interpretation graphic draws out some history behind the brand and a beautiful arrangement and symmetry to the interpretive representations. Held together by its iconographic execution, HIC has the germ of meaningful and attractive mark. If it weren’t for the lack of attention to typography (blech, type on a curve) and a designer to evolve the logo beyond a simple mark on a board, I could see this brand competing in a much higher bracket of identities.
Then, you have a designer like Casper Schelde Iversen, who’s built an identity for a brand called Mckill, which, as far as I can find is fictitious or extinct. Nevertheless, he’s taken an idea and pushed it into a polished form regardless of its validity (hey, can’t blame him for that) and he’s posted his ideas up on Behance for a shot at seeing a vision like this come to fruition. The beauty of the brand here is the designer’s ability to take the main motifs of surf and skate fashion and splice them into a seamless form. The thick industrial dance club typography partnered with the cursive fluidity of the the tag line text, and the razor-formed logo that looks like a machine, pairs bad ass with elegance and highlights a fierce attitude so prevalent in the values of skaters and surfers.
However, overall, I find it to be leaning on these as fads instead of pushing it further than anything we’ve already seen. It looks sharp on screen, but can it survive? Does McKill have the soul for longevity in an outfit like that logo? Regardless, it’s good to look around at other people’s process and attack of a similar project. For Quando, longevity is key. They’re less interested in the slickness of modern extreme sports fashion and more intent on basking in the wash of the scene while bringing with it the swell of memory. They’re vintage for the sake of fashion, but their spirit is more nostalgia. I’m reminded of Corona and their marketing that is so very different from their competitors; where Miller, Coors and Budweiser focus on parties and lifestyle, Corona reminds you of yourself on vacation. Where Hurley might be about a board with the most facility for stunts and a day full of the future, Quando makes a board you’ll remember and takes you back to when you first fell in love.
Those are my musings about the company and some of the images I’ve dug up to compare the brand to the world as I see it. Hopefully this digests enough to build a brand mark that puts into visuals what all these words mean.