The thinking behind what we do

Say 'No' to copy cat brands

Imitation might be the sincerest form of flattery. But does it work?

 Red. 'Toilet Paper' No. 4 by Pierpaolo Ferrari and Maurizio Cattelan

Red. 'Toilet Paper' No. 4 by Pierpaolo Ferrari and Maurizio Cattelan

We’ve noticed a trend in institutions in Australia, festivals included, are presenting ‘me too’, brand offerings. Just also we’ve noticed nationally, there is much bland design and copycat branding, boring websites and poor propositions, which is dumbing down our nation’s culture. Nobody it seems wants to take a risk any more.

We have experienced that lately with new clients coming to us asking to be like Carriageworks or MONA.

We say, why not be your own thing…

The importance and danger of playing the (anti)hero

In stories and films, an antihero is exciting because they transgress. Antiheroes offer challenging experiences—safe for us to enjoy, without having to bring mess and disorder out in our own lives. That’s why we love characters like Maura Pfefferman, Walter White and Tony Soprano. Their antics can be cathartic and life changing for us. They are the polar opposites, tensions — where the collisions happen.

So what’s this got to do with brands?

It’s been said that the  history of branding in the century is the ‘birth/death/adolescence’ of the corporate personality, about making a bunch of people (the company) behave like a single person/hero (the brand). We believe organisations need to not just embrace their hero (the brand) but evolve into a multi-faceted creature comprising of: the brand + hero + anti hero + the now + the next.  

The question organisations need to ask is: ‘Am I going to launch another thing that’s more of the same or is it going to have impact?’  If it’s yes, congratulations, you’ve just wasted a whole bunch of money and resources on nothing… If someone else already has entered into your audience’s mind with the same perception you had hoped to create, you’ll find it’s hard to push them out. You end up selling for them.

On being the leader

A better idea is to pick a different perception, one that you put into your audience’s mind, first.

Ultimately, if an audience can’t see value in who you are and what you do they won’t buy from you. Period.

You don't need to be very aware of what other people are doing if you're the first. Leading is being the first.  

But remember, not everything is going to be meaningful to everyone. But that’s the point. When you achieve an understanding what your organisation stands for and communicate those values, like-minded audiences will find you and stay with you.

But it’s not just about the visual design, today, there is a growth in the notion of design as an experience, and where Boccalatte, now aligns itself. To survive in uncertain times, the biggest single thing an organisation needs to do is to create a long-term meaningful experience. This is where our clients like ACMI and Carriageworks have been so successful.

If you’re onto a good thing stick to it.

A unique offer is found in the tension between the vision, the existing trajectory of your brand the brand experience (beyond the visual), and the thirst of future audiences.

The power of envy

Recognition is as valuable thing. Haters are just valuable as its champions. Saying who you aren’t is just as important as saying who you are.

Success for an organisation is not a million passive followers on facebook. Success is passionate engagement. Success is Envy. Success is becoming a reference point for your cultural peers, your critics, your audience.


It’s what Lisa Havilah, David Walsh, and corporates like AirBnB, Uber, and even Steve Jobs has traded on.

Yes, Envy.

And that is, most importantly, is what we’d like to help our clients with. Creating a design experience to make ‘em jealous.


suzanne boccalatte