Handmade robots.
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By David Licona

Los Angeles - In May, Daft Punk released their first studio album in 8 years. Their fourth studio album is the first one without the band's name logotype on the front cover, instead the anticipated-bestseller album Random Access Memories shows a portrait composed of the robot helmets used by the members of the music duo, a bolder and more distinguishable visual element. The album started promotion with a first hit-single that broke Spotify's streaming records, followed by a free-streaming week on iTunes before the release date. With an official release party in Australia and different release dates around the globe to fit the purchase patters of each region, the marketing exercises and the lessons to learn from this global cultural happening are immense.

Through the years, Daft Punk has shown a consistent public image with diverse elements that together behave as, and offer the experience of brand Daft Punk. Brand Daft Punk has shown an integrated approach to promotion that has placed significant attention on graphic design, fashion and consumer culture. The band has used music as its engine, but always supported it with exceptional visual aesthetics; using a name logotype that has been reinterpreted to fit the musical propositions of the band with every album, always presented on top of a dominant black background.

The two individual metal-glass robot helmets are the main, and along with the gloves, the only consistent element on the outfits of the band. The helmets are arguably the band's most identifiable visual element at the moment, and the promotion of the album takes advantage of this; a cardboard version of the two-helmet design from the album's cover has been worn by the hypersexualized mannequins of your neighborhood's American Apparel store and offered in limited quantities at music stores around the world.

'The robots' have sported futuristic one piece suits as well as 70's disco tuxedo shirts paired with wide lapel suits and 80's leather jackets. For the the past 7 years, they have collaborated with one of the most influential contemporary fashion designers, the proponent of the iconic haggard male body aesthetic of the last decade, Hedi Slimane. During their 2006/2007 world tour, the band members wore leather jackets that Slimane designed for Dior Homme, customized with a studded Daft Punk logotype on their backs. More recently, Slimane commissioned Daft Punk to write the music for his Saint Laurent fashion show debut, and he has photographed the band wearing his designs for the same label in various occasions.
The new album has a promotional website with documentary youtube films sponsored by Intel and Vice magazine. These films present what the different collaborators of the album experienced while working with 'the robots'. In their album, Daft Punk gathered a team of musicians from different generations, related to different audiences and with notably different approaches to music, resulting in a sound never heard before from the French duo, but unmistakably theirs. With live acoustic instruments recorded at the mythical rock studios of Los Angeles and New York by the skillful musicians of Donna Summer's and Michael Jackson's bestselling productions, the new sound of the band stands against the sonar paradigm of the moment, the laptop studio, the technology that allows the band's audience to produce electronic music at home.

Brand Daft Punk is legitimately aligning with the golden era of dance music and presenting an album that diplomatically combines the American and European music traditions; rock and electronica, instinct and intelligence, passion and reason, body and mind, human and robot. Duality is the essence of brand Daft Punk and a leitmotif that the band reinforces with all its visual manifestations.

Suggested reading:

Beverland, M. (2005), Brand management and the challenge of authenticity, Journal of Product and Brand Placement, Vol. 14

Brown, S., Kozinets, V. & Sherry J. (2003) Teaching Old Brands New Tricks: Retro Branding and the revival of Brand Meaning. Journal or Marketing, Vol. 67

Holt, D. (2002), Why do brands cause trouble? A Dialectical Theory of Consumer Culture and Branding, Journal of Consumer Research, Vol. 29
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