>> Ulla-Maaria is the developer of Thinglink ( thinglink.org), author
of the HobbyPrincess blog ( hobbyprincess.com), and researcher of
design and innovation work at the University of Helsinki. firstname.lastname@example.org
My Logo, Not No Logo
In a WNYC radio show that aired in September uncool. The image of the anti-brand consumer
2002, No Logo author Naomi Klein and The reaches its peak in Cayce Pollard, the witty cool-
Economist’s Asia business correspondent hunter in William Gibson’s novel Pattern Recognition.
Sameena Ahmad debated corporations, people, and Her allergy to “pollutant” logos like Tommy Hilfiger’s
power under the headline “Pro Logo vs. No Logo.” is so powerful she gets physically ill in their presence.
The debate was actually more about the nature For many of us, wearing something unique is a
and role of multinational corporations than it was form of self-expression — partly by rejecting ready-
about logos. Klein argued against the discriminating made mainstream designs offered by global fashion
effects multinational businesses have on society. brands, but also, more interestingly, by inventing
Ahmad’s counterargument was that companies completely new designs of our own. We discuss
create jobs and wealth. The debate ends up drifting trends and techniques in online communities like
into an unintelligent boxing match between good supernaturale.com and in magazines like CRAFT,
and evil. post photos of our designs on blogs and Flickr, and
Although things have changed since 2002, the sell our handcrafted products on eBay and Etsy.
debate about branding and globalization really Services like threadless.com, the online T-shirt
hasn’t moved on from the dead end where Klein auction, represent an alternative to the centralized
and Ahmad left it. Now I think that there is reason creativity of ready-made brands. Threadless sells to
to argue that the grounds of this debate might be the idea that the T-shirt is a medium and my logo is
changing, too. It seems that instead of No Logo, a my message.
powerful new force in this field is emerging: what Many of the people who have started to make
I call the “My Logo” movement. their own designs want to label their creations
I learned about the power of brands growing up as with their own symbols. The symbol can be their
a teenager, not in New York, but in eastern Finland, initials, a nickname, or any other sign that they
less than two hours’ drive from the Russian border. want to adopt as their own brand. The symbol can
In our 1980s world, big foreign brands such as Levi’s be repeated and varied in their work to the extent
and Lacoste were hip, and their logos worked as that it becomes their logo — like the skull on Garth
status symbols. One of my trendiest craftworks Johnson’s Extreme Craft ( extremecraft.com). I
at that time was a denim jacket personalized with wouldn’t be surprised if, in the future, having your
logos of fashionable brands that I had secretly own label becomes as common as it is now to have
detached from my mother’s clothes. My coolness your own blog.
was measured by those logos on my jacket. Most designers, crafters, teens, and even graffiti
Today, instead of fawning over brands, the teen- artists would probably agree with the arguments
age girls and guys featured on the street fashion site that Klein puts forth in her book. Still, instead of No
hel-looks.com generally think buying a garment that Logo, they are signing up for My Logo. ×
has a unique (hi)story is awesome. They say they
prefer secondhand or small design brands because
expensive mass-manufactured clothes are totally