Challenging the status quo in design and in a market like beer is fascinating. Reminds me a lot about many other forms of this process in sport and business. Funny thing is having been apart of the Oarsome Foursome many moons ago I think this is what they did and those who presented them
I liked this article about design and the unorthodox expression not only with beer, but so many other markets. Yes sports are a markets and events are markets. The Olympics are a market place and people and buying and selling all sorts of stuff. The field of play is a market and again lots of buying and selling takes place.
Hence the reason way I say this reminds me of the Oarsome Foursome days as they and those around them we great at selling this attractive and appealing concepts of these awe-some and awe-inspiring athletes. Its helped in racing, it helped at major events, and it helped in the Australian sporting mad public.
The athletes were perceived to be somewhat unorthodox individually but more some as a team. This become the story and was so effective on many layers. A different rowing style, different attitudes to training, different looks and style. This was marketable for sponsors and interesting to the public. It was leveraged with competitors international and domestically. All of it was propagated from a simple idea and perception for a reporter looking to make that first story.
The process of design was organic and evolved from journo to athletes and coach, and the community within the sport. It grew and took on a life of its own.
The magnificence of the Oarsome Foursome was a mingling of characters and stories, with a tagline name and clear messaging. The visuals took shape and the stand out unorthodox features grew to a level were I recall to moments which confirmed the power of the brand.
1995 a member of the crew was standing beside and member of another International team in a toilet post the Worlds. The Oarsome Foursome was so far from the dominance of 1992 Olympics and what their name would suggest. A 5th place in the Finland Worlds surely would challenge the notion of them being Oarsome. No it would not this other athlete initially suggested then almost begged jokingly with a member of the Oarsome Foursome to not continue onto the 1996 Olympics. The Oarsome Foursome were their hero’s and they were so amazing and talented. This athlete begged by saying can you leave the 1996 Olympics to us and let us win our Gold. This was an insight into the psyche and the myth which had grown about the Oarsome Foursome.
The other moment which exemplified the stand out brand was during the 1996 Olympic games when venue commentators would announce crews and athletes by Country and boat class. Examples were clear this was the offical way things should and would be done. Here comes the New Zealand Men’s Coxless Pair. And the Great Britain Men’s Pair has surged away from the field. The Germany Men’s Quad looks dominant from lane 3. The Belarus Women’s Sculling seems to have this one. The obvious thread to all this seemed never to be interrupted, until. “HERE COMES THE OARSMEN FOURSOME, THE AUSTRALIAN COULEES FOUR”. Wow what just happened and how did that happen?
From competitors to commentators the unorthodox, the story, the brand, the visual differences, and the name all played out to create this true stand out effect.
When I read this article about design and branding for beers and the tow approaches, it reminded me of the experience with the Oarsome Foursome and I thought it worth sharing.
Why? Well the Olympics are around the corner and fast approaching and this will be the same dynamic playing out again in the biggest of sporting markets.
In most markets branding and packaging tends to fall into one of two camps: time-tested mainstream commercial design appealing to the masses (usually seen from big brands) and unorthodox concepts featuring a strong personality (typical of craft brands). Too often, you’re either in one camp or the other, making standing out difficult. Like most problems,…