Wednesday, June 20, 2012


Could Ya Turn That Down A Bit
A while back, I wrote about how cycling is a colorful sport, and that having bright, fun colors is a good thing. But there is a flip side to this equation.

Generally, it almost always has something to do with marketing/branding. It is super important that brands gain an identity in the marketplace. If "Brand A" becomes a bland, unnoticed by others kind of a product, it may disappear into the mass of information we are bombarded with on a daily basis, and become just another part of the daily noise.

Brand managers fear this. A lot.

So, graphic designers are brought in to help market the brand/product into something that stands out in the crowd. get what we had here last week. Which is the way he wants it.... Oh! Sorry!

Back on track here... Anyway, so you get what we have here. This fine bicycle from Fuji. Nothing wrong with the color palette here, but there are so many branding opportunities taken that it leaves the mind a bit overwhelmed.

Now I must say, I've gotten compliments on how this bike looks from total non-cyclists, so take what I have to say with a grain of salt here. Maybe I'm totally offa my rocker here, ya know? But that said- this thing could be toned down a bit, maybe, and be a nice, classy looking carbon fiber rig that still would turn heads.

I mean, I can barely take this visual assault in while it is standing still, much less if a rider is speeding by on a trail riding it. But, then again, if it is seen gracing a rack on a car in traffic, what kind of advertising dollars does that opportunity represent? See what I mean? It is almost suicide not to do this branding. 

I guess I am a bit conflicted about this subject, but I know I really like a nice, colorful, classically designed, tasteful   graphic package. This bike is cool, but man! It is kinda hard on the eyes. Wouldn't you agree?


Dave said...

It's loud to be sure, but it's all in the eye of the beholder. For some, it might be a breath of fresh air, a little flair in an otherwise bland world. I mean, it's not like Yetis are terribly toned down. Some recent Giants and Specializeds aren't real subtle either. Might not be my cup of tea, but if the bike offers what I want from a functional standpoint, graphics aren't going to dissuade me from getting it.

Matt said...

I agree - and I think bikes like this one actually make it harder to figure out branding, as the graphics are so flashy that it's hard to make out the brand at a glance (which is often all you get!).

I like the trend with some of the smaller brands (Salsa, Niner, etc) of having a distinct brand image but not relying on outsized graphics or crazy color schemes to do it.

Ben said...

I'm with ya GT, that thing makes me feel like an ADD kid when I look at it. I can consciously feel my eyes going all over the screen looking at the different words.

It's the NASCAR syndrome, or something.

I think Salsa in particular has done a fantastic job of branding while retaining high levels of style, and Surly is up there as well in some odd but totally dig-able fashion.

Yet these, man. I got passed (horribly dropped) by some road cyclists on Sunday, and it was like I was being passed by a fleet of words and colors.

Captain Bob said...

Peel off the wheel stickers and a lot of the business would go away I think. To me the whole package is pulling at me in all different directions. So yeah, branding ops all over. Still, with a little electrical tape here and there it could become a subtle package. Wonder how it rides....?

blackmountaincycles said...

Do the non-cyclists who like that also religiously watch NASCAR? It seems the branding is becoming more NASCAR-like. There's still plenty of options for flash or subtle.

Capncavedan said...

I've been increasingly turned off by the noise on modern bikes. Specialized and Fuji are particularly bad, but most brands are out of line.

I was pondering this recently and I think if we let bike designers loose on cars, we'd all be driving NASCAR-looking cars to work.

Guitar Ted said...

@blackmountaincycles: You state: "Do the non-cyclists who like that also religiously watch NASCAR?"

Maybe that's who these marketers are trying to drag into cycling with these "busy" schemes.(??)

In other words: How do you make a statement without "shouting" in the world as we know it today? I'm not saying I like this sort of look, (I really would rather not see stuff like this), but attention is hard to get these days.

Just playing "devil's advocate" here a bit, since I see folks not liking this sort of approach to branding, but what is the solution? (Salsa Cycles notwithstanding)

Brady said...

Funny that people talk about Salsa being a "toned-down" example. Recently more so I suppose, but look at some of their older stuff. Talk about obnoxious! Overall I do agree with you GT. Nothing wrong with simple (I ride a rigid SS after all). I like how Foundry is doing, simliar to Open Cycles...just...simple.

D said...

At a certain point, excessive branding has the opposite effect. It is all white noise, and all I see is "generic mountain bike" or "generic road bike" when I pass some overly branded frame.

Perhaps those of us who look at a lot of bikes see it differently from those who are less exposed to cycling and bicycle brands?

Based on these comments, it would seem a bike manufacturer can make a statement by with simple color scheme and a distinct logo, used sparingly. More is not necessarily better.

Personally, a more subtly branded bike draws my interest and makes me want to get a closer look.

Zeroack said...

Last year I bought some Easton wheels for my new 29er. How can you make a set of wheels so obnoxious? They found a way.

Hook said...

I guess it depends on whether or not you want to look like a racer. Race bikes - road, cross, xc, etc - and race "kit", are expected to be covered with sponsor logos and bright colours, right? And a lot of bike shoppers figure that a "race" bike must be the best, even if they know they will never ever race the thing. You don't generally see urban/utility or touring bikes dressed like that- is it because there aren't racing categories for them? Or is it because people who buy those bikes know what they're for?