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Owen’s View: ‘Branding’ yourself- tattoos

Since my college days I have been thinking about getting a tattoo, but haven’t yet made the commitment to a design that I am prepared to wear on my body for the rest of my life. Our recent work with Treboom Brewery, and our research into sugar skulls got me once again thinking about tattoos, but also branding, and how the two are alike in so many ways.

Tattoos symbolise being part of tradition, part of a group or clan, or to stand out and even shock. In the same vein, the reason businesses and individuals ‘brand’ is to differentiate themselves from the next person or business.

Recently the worlds of branding and tattoos have mixed quite dramatically, with huge brands including Reebok, Red Bull, HBO, ASOS and Sailor Jerrys offering free tattoos at various film and music events. The number of willing participants just proves how dedicated some brand fans can be, and that tattoos are no longer a symbol of rebellion.

And what about being dedicated to your company? I have thought about having the United by Design logo tattooed on my body, but this is my business, it’s a part of me and something I feel strongly about. But I am not so sure about what’s going on over in New York at Rapid Realty, the company is offering a 15% rise in commission to every member of staff who has the company’s logo tattooed on them. Over 40 staff have been inked so far!

Tattooing is highly profiled in the media. The rise in popularity of shows such as Miami Ink is inspiring more people than ever to go out and get inked. The amount of celebrities now sporting tattoos makes the once frowned upon art-form even more part of the norm. After the 2012 Olympics, several of the GB athletes, including the majority of the women’s basketball team, went and had tattoos incorporating the 5 Olympic rings, highlighting their dedication and pride to sport, Great Britain and the Olympic games.

Olympic Tattoo

On the other hand, there is still a certain amount of prejudice when it comes to those with tattoos. Air New Zealand have been forced to rethink their policies after being slated for turning away a prospective employee due to her moko, (Maori), tattoo on her forearm. It is reasonable to say that some tattoos are offensive or inappropriate, but taking in pride in your heritage is no bad thing!

In Japan, tattoos still shock and unnerve people, as the showing of body art by Yakuza gang members is considered a sign of aggression. Attitudes are warming slightly to the tradition, as more and more people have started experimenting with irezumi (japanese style of tattooing).

As for my tattoo, I am inspired by japanese, polynesian and moko styles, in fact I have a Pinterest board dedicated to the tattoos that inspire me, check it out here. While I continue to make my mind up I may experiment with some temporary tattoos, such as these by Lydia Leith.

And just like tattoos, branding is something that has to be thought about and considered carefully. There should be a meaning behind your choice and why you are going ahead with such an investment. With regards to both tattoos and branding, seeking advice from an expert, and doing your research, are paramount. It may cost you, but you want the job to be done properly- money definitely well spent if you’re going to have the branding, or the tattoo, for a VERY long time!

Are you inked? Tweet us some inspiration @ubd_studio

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