I’ve noticed lately that a number of Buffalo businesses are employing radical imagery in their branding. Both Soviet-style working-class exaltation and the defiant fist often associated with the Black Power and other resistance movements seem to be gaining in prominence.
Is this (gasp) APPROPRIATION? A logical successor to Hot Topic’s Che Guevara t-shirts? Is it proof of the indelibility of Occupy Wall Street’s message of dissatisfaction with business as usual? Is it an example of romanticizing Buffalo’s industrial heritage? Do radicals just have the best eye for design? Does it matter?
I’ll reserve comment other than to say I find this kind of imagery appealing (probably for all of the above reasons).
The oldest example I can think of is the downtown mural for an ad agency at the top of this post. I don’t know when it went up; Buffalo Rising suggests it was in 2011, but I thought I had seen it before then. Anyway, the October 3, 2011 date of the BRO post suggests an interesting synchronicity with Occupy Wall Street.
Both Public Espresso and Buffalo Iron Works opted for the iconic “strong guy swinging a heavy thing.” I like to think that it’s the same guy in both images, forging things from red hot screaming metal by day and perfectly roasting smooth-brewing coffee blends on the third shift by night in order to put food on the table for his wife and baby (Is she named Stella? Is he played by Marlon Brando?):
Bread Hive and this contractor opted for the raised fist, which I traditionally associate with the Black Panthers, and then other later resistance movements, but which wikipedia tells me has also been in use for a long time as a symbol of solidarity and anti-fascism:
Like I said above, I don’t have much comment on this possible trend aside from what comment inheres in presenting all of these logos in one place. I obviously have much fondness for peoples’ movements, but I also really just like the aesthetic of old-time communist and anarchist propaganda. Maybe there’s something suspect about an ad agency that does work for big-C Capital employing this kind imagery, but I don’t think it particularly matters. There’s definitely worse places a business could go with its branding strategy (ahem, Gypsy Parlor).
Have you seen other examples of radical iconography being used by local businesses?