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HERE’S A THOUGHT

The Little Things

03/07/15

“It’s the little things, George” as Michael Caine put it in Mona Lisa. The Minions are certainly little. And seemingly everywhere as their summer movie opens. Including on the side of banana yellow Amazon boxes. The box also points to a dedicated Amazon URL where there is a Minions micro store selling all things yellow and cheeky related.

This is brand design as a bit of fun – arguably a little thing. But it also relates to a very big thing. Many believe that Amazon (as a platform) is fundamentally transforming the way we buy and sell things. Basically it is enabling smaller makers of things to distribute their products direct to us without many of the typical gates and hurdles. To clumsily paraphrase Karl Marx this puts the means of distribution in the hands of the workers.

So why is the Minions box a big deal for design? Because with digital printing becoming more commonplace, the outer packaging of Amazon becomes an ideal canvas for micro short printing runs. So perhaps we are looking at a future where Amazon uses its distribution and data expertise and links these to individual brands and short run printing (all produced within their warehouses?).

That would turn it into the biggest branded packaging ‘platform’ on earth. And in design terms this would be very ‘pure’ because we have already bought the product – so in effect the pack is a billboard for the brand, not something to aid navigation or suchlike in store. And like online business card sites, in technical terms the design could potentially be user generated, applied to basic templates. If this happens not only would ‘the workers’ now have the means of distribution, they would also have the means of branding directly in their hands.

A relatively big promotion like the Minions might be the harbinger to something really massive.

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