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8 Amazing Factoids About Some Of The World's Best Brands

The London-based agency Jones Knowles Ritchie has compiled its second annual champions of design. Here are some of the highlights.

  • <p>"<em>Family Guy</em> creator, Seth MacFarlane, has said one of the few jokes he regrets making in the show features a young boy leaving a sweet shop with a JFK Pez dispenser only for a police sniper to blow its head off. The boy then says, 'Good thing I still have my Bobby Kennedy dispenser.'"</p>
  • <p>"[Toms founder] Blake Mycoskie’s first business venture was EZ Laundry, a door-to-door laundry company he launched while in college."</p>
  • <p>"Muji itself expressed its philosophy thus: 'We would like our customers to feel the rational sense of satisfaction that comes not with, this is the best, but, this is enough. Best becomes enough.'"</p>
  • <p>"Hunters feature prominently in the British sport of 'well-wanging.' The world record for throwing a wellington boot is 69 yards, two feet, and 10.89 inches (all measurements have to be imperial). While the maximum run-up allowed is 42 paces, in tribute to the late Douglas Adams who was a keen proponent of the sport."</p>
  • <p>Early prototypes of the boot, which were produced in 1945 by Dr. Klaus Maertens and his friend Dr. Herbert Funck, used reclaimed rubber from Luftwaffe airfields. Thus, boots which have been worn by youth cultures of both left and right, can claim a lineage stretching back to the defeat of fascism.</p>
  • <p>"It’s believed that because of its early and widespread international use, Kiwi polish was instrumental in making the Kiwi both the national symbol of New Zealand and the most commonly used name for the islands’ residents."</p>
  • <p><del>"Chupa Chups became inextricably linked with <em>Kojak</em> because actor Telly Savalas was trying to give up smoking when the series began shooting."</del> <em>Our fact-checking reveals that this is probably inaccurate. Kojak’s lollipop brand of choice appears to have been Tootsie Roll. </em></p>
  • <p>"When the drink was launched in 1935, <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hermann_G%C3%B6ring" target="_blank">Hermann Göring</a> [a leading member of the Nazi party] occupied the position of Reichsjägermeister and was on familiar terms with the liqueur’s inventor, Carl Mast. Therefore, Jägermeister became known in some quarters as 'Göring-Schnapps.'"</p>
  • 01 /08 | Pez

    "Family Guy creator, Seth MacFarlane, has said one of the few jokes he regrets making in the show features a young boy leaving a sweet shop with a JFK Pez dispenser only for a police sniper to blow its head off. The boy then says, 'Good thing I still have my Bobby Kennedy dispenser.'"

  • 02 /08 | Toms

    "[Toms founder] Blake Mycoskie’s first business venture was EZ Laundry, a door-to-door laundry company he launched while in college."

  • 03 /08 | Muji

    "Muji itself expressed its philosophy thus: 'We would like our customers to feel the rational sense of satisfaction that comes not with, this is the best, but, this is enough. Best becomes enough.'"

  • 04 /08 | Hunter

    "Hunters feature prominently in the British sport of 'well-wanging.' The world record for throwing a wellington boot is 69 yards, two feet, and 10.89 inches (all measurements have to be imperial). While the maximum run-up allowed is 42 paces, in tribute to the late Douglas Adams who was a keen proponent of the sport."

  • 05 /08 | Dr Martens

    Early prototypes of the boot, which were produced in 1945 by Dr. Klaus Maertens and his friend Dr. Herbert Funck, used reclaimed rubber from Luftwaffe airfields. Thus, boots which have been worn by youth cultures of both left and right, can claim a lineage stretching back to the defeat of fascism.

  • 06 /08 | Kiwi

    "It’s believed that because of its early and widespread international use, Kiwi polish was instrumental in making the Kiwi both the national symbol of New Zealand and the most commonly used name for the islands’ residents."

  • 07 /08 | Chupa Chups

    "Chupa Chups became inextricably linked with Kojak because actor Telly Savalas was trying to give up smoking when the series began shooting." Our fact-checking reveals that this is probably inaccurate. Kojak’s lollipop brand of choice appears to have been Tootsie Roll.

  • 08 /08 | Jägermeister

    "When the drink was launched in 1935, Hermann Göring [a leading member of the Nazi party] occupied the position of Reichsjägermeister and was on familiar terms with the liqueur’s inventor, Carl Mast. Therefore, Jägermeister became known in some quarters as 'Göring-Schnapps.'"

At the end of the year, some design agencies like to take stock of their recent projects, sending out self-congratulatory newsletters lauding their work in order to thank their clients and, hopefully, net some new ones. But Jones Knowles Ritchie took an altogether different tack. Instead of publishing their own achievements, the London- and New York–based firm, for the second year in a row, collected the stories of 35 inspiring brands in an entertaining, fact-filled book titled Champions of Design.

Not that the project was completely devoid of self-interest. As the designers write in the introduction, publicizing the role good design plays for successful brands can only help design firms, JKR included: "The more marketing people who grow to love great design and value its contribution to their brands the easier our job will be if we are fortunate enough to work with them." Across all the featured brands, from Muji and Moleskine to Perrier and Pez, one can glean the following lessons, the designers add:

1. Design is not separate from the product, it is part of it. It should emerge so naturally from the brand that it feels and sounds right, like the voice of a friend. If design is simply bolted on or used as wrapping paper the cracks will show and the product inside won’t last very long.

2. People will pay a little more for something they want and a lot more for something they want very much. (Think of the last thing you wanted desperately and ask yourself what part its design played in its attraction.)

3. As each of our champions illustrates, design pays for itself many times over. Few other investments show such a great return.

You’ve heard this all before? Fair enough. But in researching the histories of its favorite brands, JKR stumbled across some little-known factoids that we found so gobstopping we had to share them. Click through the slideshow to see what we mean.

The entire book can be viewed for free here.

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