Packin’ It With Zappos

by Omatic Design

Smiles, everyone!

I RECEIVED my delivery of Jimmy Choos (or was it a laptop bag?) from Zappos. We’re all familiar with the Holy Zappos Brand due to the fact that Tony Hsieh will preach it for hours to preschoolers if given an invite.

So “Packed With Happiness”? Sure—goofy and expected.

HOWEVER! The illustration. Seriously? It deftly balances the aesthetics of a dry cleaner poster and a Pee Chee folder with a Donny Darko reference thrown in for good measure. I’d like to chalk it up to a keen sense of irony, but I’ve seen Zappos come out with some consistently bizarre, someone-hired-their-pothead-nephew design.

This leads to my point: Zappos is deeply engaged with the idea of their brand. Mr. Hsieh likes to say “Your culture is your brand.” But Zappos has never had any defining or engaging visual brand identity on which to hang its many hats. It just flat-out ain’t much to look at.

Now, as a creative, I’ll always be an advocate for a cohesive, coherent brand identity. It’s an essential component of the brand experience. And I’ve been in a room trying to persuade people that Zappos may have a strong brand, but they have a terribly weak brand identity. You know, guys? The whole visual manifestation of all the brand babble? Typography? Logos and stuff? Touchpoints, etc?


Nobody could commit. The legendary strength of Zappos was too strong. They had been brandwashed.

In this case, I might well be wrong. Perhaps the Zappos brand draws its strength from its defining lack of visual definition letting the brand promise come through in action and words. Another option is that the lack of sophistication allows the brand to breathe as it needs. Like an uncle who’s totally cool even though he wears a Hooters t-shirt and capri man-pants. Who can’t love him? Could it be that some brands don’t need all this fancy stuff created by a bunch of know-it-all professionals?