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Taking a Brandless Approach to BRANDING

These days, for brands to be memorable, companies must cut through the din of auditory and visual noise and lift people’s gazes from the glow of mobile devices. To that end, an ancient principle can be applied: People love art.



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In a post-advertising world, most are aware that storytelling is everything. Consumers don’t want to know what a brand does; they want to know what it’s about. But what is cutting-edge is how new audiovisual technology “canvasses” create art that tells stories and connects brands with audiences.

“Essentially, we have 21st-century art sponsors that understand the connection between brand and people,” observes Jason White, the Co-Founder and Chief Creative Officer of Leviathan, a creative agency that translates brands’ requests to “make something cool” into aesthetically engaging experiences. The Chicago studio specializes in delivering captivating, architecturally integrated audiovisual works that build brand reputation.

Often, these public experiences — whether in a corporate lobby or a popup — are sensory spectacles that avoid references to brand. The digital canvas is perceived as an authentic expression of connection between company and consumer. Instead of a commercial, it’s about cred.

“Advertisements outside of the brand space are way more effective,” White explains. “When you're in the belly of the brand, you're already encased by it physically, so you're looking for a deeper connection.” Thus the notion of “brandless branding.”

“Brands may desire to be brandless because they want to turn visitors on to something different,” White says. Which is why Leviathan and audiovisual firms like it are called on to help brands express themselves in new, artistic ways.


In San Francisco, Leviathan worked with Dolby Labs on an experience called “Metamorphosis,” an ever-evolving piece of audiovisual artwork demonstrating the creative power of Dolby technologies. To combine Dolby sound and vision, Leviathan developed a generative display that references fine art and pulls from a digital color palette of painted masterpieces. It’s a swirl of visuals that also “plays” corresponding audio for an integrated experience. Metamorphosis is a branded story, White explains, “but nowhere do you see Dolby branding.”

When technology itself isn’t the guiding factor of brandless branding, an architectural space often is. Witness “150 Media Stream,” which Leviathan designed for a commercial tower. The goal was to create something spectacular that would set the place apart — but without branding.

The result is the largest videowall in Chicago, a 3,000-square-foot digital canvas displaying work of local and global artists — a living, breathing sculpture that reacts to its environment.

With today’s audiovisual technology, White says, “You can build systems that adapt to human conditions and react to the environment in real-time. The whole concept is, ‘How do you reflect the mood of the day in a way that feels as if the architecture is mimicking the natural world?’”

This living, breathing brand story has become an attraction in Chicago. “People feel inspired, engaged, enlightened,” White says. “They feel like sharing it out with the rest of the world.”

Ultimately, brandless branding is about creating an elevated experience through


thoughtful use of technology. As White puts it, “When you get into subtly branded messages — a brand trying to talk to you about the world in some new way — that's when it gets interesting.”

AVIXA™ is the Audiovisual and Integrated Experience Association, Presenting Sponsor of IRDC 2019 in Boston, Sept. 30-Oct. 2. AVIXA and its members aim to help retailers create a more successful future through the integration of compelling audiovisual experiences. AVIXA represents the $247 billion global commercial AV industry and produces InfoComm trade shows around the world.

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