I’m often against changes in my technological style that reflect laziness and cosmetic fancifulness. I was once asked about why my laptop didn’t have the “groovy” pictures or stickers on it. In my thinking, machines aren’t suppose to be cute, they are supposed to be operational utilities. I’ve grown to cringe everyday I watch the “cool kids” update their facebook status with what “Training” magazine’s writer, Joe Campbell refers to as “accessorized supercomputers” in his article entitled,”Dawn of the Social Cyborg”(September/October 2011). As the writers of that article muse the necesssary learning adaptions to successfully “evolve” with teenagers(the social cyborgs) that are spending more and more time in a mediated social sphere, I question where Blacks will fit into all of this.
“Social Cyborgs have adapted their learning to take advantage of this rich environment. They research problems by leveraging the social networks and information resources available to them in the network…We are, in a sense, the last generation of Neanderthals, living in a world that relies on old learning strategies that have served us well, but that are increasingly irrelevant to the new generation of learners we support . ”
“Dawn of the Social Cyborg”, Training Magazine, September/October 2011
While looking for design inspiration for the commenting section of Asylum, I posed the question in Asylum timeline,”who has the best designed commenting section?” I suppose the bulk of my readers there aren’t into web site critique because I received no answers. I then furthered my disappointment by asking about the branding of five Black companies or corporations. I,my Self, lacked the knowledge to truly expound on that thought, which of course, in many ways, is why I asked, right? I had enough of an eye for design to critique stellar branding, yet I was unable to think of five Black companies that I’d say utilized it.
I went on a research kick by flipping through Black Enterprise magazine. I just knew that Black Enterprise magazine would fulfill my needs. I got to about page 40 and noticed an interesting trend: most of the advertising, a company’s prime method of displaying branding, were of White companies. In the first edition, a November 2011 copy, there was Buick, Proctor and Gamble(who now have adopted the uberlame attempt to be modern name of “P & G”), Aetna, Smirnoff, Ford, Lowe’s, Nationwide(they are on our side,right?), Heineken(who didn’t even see fit to show a Black model or personality in the advertisement), Marriott, and Mass Mutual. In the first magazine, out of 34 full page advertisements and banner ads, only zero were of Black companies or corporations. Yes, in Black Enterprise magazine, a substantial zero Black enterprises are advertising. I thought my research would be skewed some by perusing more editions of the magazine. My hypothesis was grossly wanting.
Although I was happy to see Kevin Hart’s smiling arse, I mean face, in the same Ford advertisement from the first magazine I analyzed, I was not pleased(actually this time) by the consistent lack of Black enterprises being represented. Ralph Lauren, like Heineken, didn’t even bother to cater to the audience by at least throwing a Black face in their advertisement. I suppose, I should be honored to find the Central Intelligence Agency using Black Enterprise magazine to recruit future employs(I guess they still need “ebonics” speakers…). I was only slightly as displeased by that as I was for the fact that Paul Masson is a regular advertising company with Black Enterprise magazine(Ah! You bourgeois cats drinking “Paul”, huh? I blame Atlanta…). This time a grand tally of zero out of 35 full page or banner advertisements were of Black businesses.
Only because I spent more money than I’ll ever pay back for this universal energy forsaken Media Communications degree, and I’m slightly meticulous about what I write about the works of others, I went through a third copy of the Black Enterprise. Yes, I was actually still hopeful, the optimistic chap that I can be. No, Ralph Lauren still didn’t feel it in their marketing strategy to consider using a Black man for their “Black Label.” Out of thirty-two full page or banner advertisements, only zero would register as marketing for a Black enterprise in Black Enterprise(I love typing that, well, I hate it, but…you know what I mean…).
So, I considered the notions and paranoia of corporate trainers that labeled them Selves, “neanderthals.” Not even just “neanderthals,” but neanderthals at the brink of extinction. This extinction due to the inability to adapt to a changing marketplace coupled with an alteration in the learning practices of its young. If these guys think they are having extinction problems, and our analysis and reporters of Black enterprises depends on them for financial sustenance, what does that say about the position Blacks find them Selves in?
I can only hope that we are keeping up. I find it difficult to believe that when I can’t even depend on Black Enterprise magazine for inspiration on the branding of Black enterprises. How does the grafitti that influences Ecko and LRG, two major market players of urban fashion which are both owned by white personages, impact the design of Black logos and naming conventions? I’m just a design guy looking to improve his web presentation and offline marketing material that happens to want to utilize a classic Black in America approach, but I can’t seem to find a Black company that is utilizing it in a fashion worthy of theft. What are the young Black designers that aren’t from the urban or core Black cultural centers pulling their inspiration from? If I am asking these questions, I can only imagine what the Black engineers with a dedication to the community’s existence are asking them Selves.
I guess we can all get corporate jobs from the white folks that think they are on the brink of annihilation from their skateboarding, facebook status updating kids. Geez…