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Our Top 5 Richmond Brands (We Had Nothing To Do With)

Let's face it, Richmond is not a logo town.

Not yet anyways!

Whether it's the regrettable / forgettable silhouette tree craze or just dated typography choices. And yes, there are logo towns. Drive down any major avenue in Austin, TX and you will see air conditioner repair shops with cooler logos than Altria – which, I admit, is not saying much. But we're not merely talking about logos... as Seth Godin puts it:

"It takes more than a hat to be a cowboy, it takes more than a designer prattling on about texture to make a brand."

Or as Jerry McLaughlin of Forbes says:

"...your 'brand' is what your prospect thinks of when he or she hears your brand name.  It’s everything the public thinks it knows about your name brand offering—both factual (e.g. It comes in a robin’s-egg-blue box), and emotional (e.g. It’s romantic).  Your brand name exists objectively; people can see it.  It’s fixed.  But your brand exists only in someone’s mind."

So without further prattling, here are our favorite Richmond brands we had nothing to do with:

5. Mamma 'Zu

An odd choice, you might think, with it's slightly amateur and inelegant handwritten execution, yet the Mamma Zu mark fits neatly into a carefully crafted and curated brand image and experience. Owner Ed Vasaio is a master of the art of humble understatement, expressed in his careful and deliberate choice of location, interior aesthetic, and even his infamous yet exceptional staff. Full disclosure: In 1993, myself and my best friend and local artist Chris Milk designed / illustrated the first Mamma 'Zu t-shirt in trade for a mammoth meal and a lot of wine.


4. Work Labs

Despite their reputations, ad agencies are not always proficient when it comes to branding themselves. Cabell Harris' Work Labs has no such deficiency, with over 20 years worth of award winning branding and self promotion excellence. Whether it's beer, magazines or interactive site experiences, Work Labs never tires of finding new ways to express it's brand, stay current and sell itself.


3. World Of Mirth

A toy, kitch and oddities shop extraordinaire, World Of Mirth was the brainchild of the late Kathryn Harvey, and the final mark was brought to life by the talented Richmond illustrator, Kelly Alder. It says something that I am constantly shocked that World Of Mirth isn't a national chain – yet! 


2. GWAR, of course!

There's really nothing quite like GWAR – a hilariously macabre, ironic, sarcastic, perverted, silicone circus drenched in fake blood – accompanied by a deceptively-fantastic heavy metal band. Known the world over, the GWAR brand was handmade here in Richmond by a small army of talented artists. The GWAR logo morphs and adapts to each and every application, be it comic book, stage prop or tattoo. The hand and artistic vision of GWAR slave, Bob Gorman, is the most recognizable aesthetic, which seems to touch almost everything they produce.


1. Need Supply Co.

Long before the term hipster was even coined, a small, high-end denim shop opened in Richmond's Carytown shopping district. Almost twenty years later, Need Supply Co. has grown into a national and global online retail powerhouse and innovator – known and mimicked by anyone who's anyone in online fashion. Despite their national success, Need operates slightly under the radar of it's own hometown, where it's good fortunes sound more like rumors overheard some evening at Balliceaux. They rigidly control and polish their aesthetic and are addicted to keeping up with if not staying ahead of trend centers like New York and Paris.

The original Helvetica Neue logo was fittingly designed by a friend and Work Labs alum, creative director / art director David Waraksa.


Let us know your favorite Richmond brands!