KinkBNB’s logo is terrible.
First, and perhaps most egregious, is their use of Impact font — popularized by LOLcats, the typeface has been the standard for image macros and internet memes for the past decade. Impact font…. seriously? Like, were there no other simple sans-serif typefaces they could have chosen?
While I can’t imagine the logic (if any) behind that choice, KinkBNB’s allusion to the Leather Pride Flag is as subtle as a sledgehammer (or perhaps, as subtle as a spanking).
It would be disingenuous to say I carry no purposeful, physical markings of cultural identity, but I prefer to think of them as aesthetic choices rather than ideological ones. They are about appearance — not about identity or affinity. While you won’t find a triskellion, venus, or other membership/pride emblem on my person, my automobile bumper, or my online identity, I absolutely recognize their meaning and value (even if they aren’t all that important to me).
That’s why this KinkBNB’s allusion feels more like appropriation, and it doesn’t sit well with me. (Excuse the reduction and non-linear chronology of what follows).
Obviously, KinkBNB’s logo is an allusion to the Leather Pride Flag, which is an ex post facto symbol with origins in gay leather culture post-WWII and its rejection of mainstream sex culture. More than that, leather subculture’s appropriation of biker culture’s aesthetic (leather) was a visible counterargument to stereotypes that painted gay men as effeminate and weak. Leather meant something, and wearing leather said something important.
Anyway, branding a business with the symbols of a sub(/counter)culture organized around rejection of the mainstream rings insincere to me, particularly for a service that draws its name from “bed and breakfast” (which denotes entrepreneurial aspirations of those with means to have them and travel accommodations for those with funds to reserve them) and makes a profit by taking 10% of all transactions off the top.
I think it bugs me because of so many recent, high visibility marketing campaigns that have diluted, coopted, and misinterpreted feminism as a means to sell stuff. Women’s empowerment is trendy at the moment, and so it’s been employed in branding and marketing for pop stars, pornography, fashion, and toiletries — using feminism rather than being feminist.
It’s a strategic deployment (a manipulative appropriation of buzzwords, aesthetic, and iconography to sell products) rather than an ideological employment (a principled effort towards equal rights and opportunities for marginalized populations).
KinkBNB’s appropriation of leather pride symbols bothers me for the same reason Dove’s appropriation of feminist buzzwords does. Clearly, Dove is a million times more strategic (and worse) — their deployment directly opposes many feminist goals. KinkBNB’s appropriation of symbols just seems careless, and that’s a shame, because being more thoughtful about the movements that enabled its existence wouldn’t hurt its bottom line.
Is it a big deal? No, but it bothers me when people take things that don’t belong to them and use them carelessly. Are companies obligated to respect or participate in cultural movements? No, but it would be nice.