Buffy’s Brand Puts the Fun in Function

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Friendly and puffy, meet Buffy, “the world’s most comfortable comforter.” With a playful brand identity created by Natasha Jen’s team at Pentagram, Buffy looks—and feels—comfy. It’s a fresh take on bedding brand identity, so unique, so different that you might not know what to make of it.

The eucalyptus and mineral-infused comforter has a fun and inviting system of graphic design and illustration components that make up its brand identity. These unique visual traits are appropriate because the product itself is distinct. Rather than cotton, Buffy uses “10× less water to cultivate fibers” according to Buffy’s website. Pentagram partner Natasha Jen led the Buffy endeavor, developing, designing and launching a system and campaign that evokes whimsy and charm.

Buffy does possess a lot of charm—especially the Fluffies. These cartoon-like characters look and feel similar to stickers and other pasted graphics found in social media such as Instagram and Snapchat. So just how much did those platforms influence the choice to incorporate photography and cartoons into Buffy’s graphic personality? Very little, according to Jen. “The idea behind the Fluffies wasn’t so much about what do we do in social media, but rather how do we create a spirit for the brand that is recognizable and memorable; feels integral to the product and brand attributes; is malleable enough that itself doesn’t carry a specific story, but can become different narratives. In other words, we were trying to create something that is distinct yet elastic. If it can accomplish these requirements, it can naturally live and evolve in social media and all other communication touch-points.”

[Related: Pentagram’s Natasha Jen on All Things Branding]

Just the Right Type

If your typography senses are tingling, then it’s because you’ve recognized something familiar: The Buffy logotype does use a customized version of Cooper Black. It’s your favorite and mine, and Armin Vit’s favorite too. Sure, the Cooper Black customized logotype evokes the brand’s sense of whimsy. But you might be wondering, Cooper Black? Really?! What other typeface or typefaces could have been used?

When asked about using Cooper Black, Jen recounted the typeface’s history and why they went with it: When it was first released in 1922, it was perceived as “a crazily novel typeface” and according to her, it still is. “We liked how this typeface, after nearly a century, still retains its novelty, yet it has a familiar feel to it. Its softness and irregularity carry a sense of humor, and we feel these formal and semantic characteristics evoke Buffy’s spirit perfectly.” So maybe it isn’t a question of What other typeface could have been used? Maybe it’s Why use any other typeface? It had to be Cooper Black.

But will consumers appreciate these quirky qualities, be it the fun and charming Fluffies, or the bubbly and bouncy—and novel—Cooper Black? The brand is very different from what most of the general public is used to seeing, be it for bedding at Target or IKEA or Walmart. Buffy is so different that people might not know what to make of it. Is it for adults? Teens? Tweens? Infants? Who should buy it? Could people be confused about Buffy? Jen doesn’t think so. “Consumers look for both functional and aspirational information when they consider a purchase. Buffy’s functional story is in the product innovation itself, and the product benefits are clearly communicated so there’s no confusion about what one might get from the brand as far as product goes.”

Fun & Functional

It’s made with unique and sustainable materials. It’s inviting. It’s comfortable. It doesn’t take itself too seriously. And it is fun. If you need further evidence that Buffy is a fun and functional brand, look no further than Buffy’s Instagram. There’s Lenny Kravitz, wearing a super comfy Fluffy. Buffy even aligned with Buffy. Jen points to Sarah Michelle Gellar (the original Buffy, the Vampire Slayer) who wears a Buffy eye mask in an Instagram photo—not a paid ad, according to Jen. “She bought the product and loved it and took a photo of her wearing the eye mask.” This was a case of Gellar getting the product and getting excited about the product all on her own, then sharing it on social media just like some other consumers do.

Buffy’s brand is entertaining and exuberant, as well as distinct and memorable, and because of its reasonable price tag, you may be eager to try out Buffy for yourself. But some people might get turned off by the brand’s cheerful look and feel. It’s entirely possible, and if it happens it happens, but Jen never thought that would or could be the case. “Who would turn away from something that is witty and fun?”

Images courtesy of Pentagram

Daniela Garza of Anagrama.

Joshua Chen of Chen Design Associates.

Mackey Saturday of Chermayeff & Geismar & Haviv.

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