Imagine starting a high-end brand using a word that brings to mind everyone’s worst memories from their teenage years.

When I first saw an ACNE STUDIO® store, I thought it was an exceptionally odd choice of trademark for a luxury fashion brand. I assumed, incorrectly, that “acne” meant something different in Sweden. Nope, the Swedish word for “acne” is . . . “acne.”

According to Wikipedia, ACNE was “initially an acronym for Associated Computer Nerd Enterprises that was later changed to Ambition to Create Novel Expressions.”

Interesting, but doesn’t explain the choice. If your inspiration were “Zeroing In To Style” you’d probably lay off the acronym.

The more I thought, the more I liked ACNE as a brand. It says it doesn’t care about your preconceived ideas. If you can’t think past being an uncool teenager, maybe you should buy your clothes elsewhere.

The approach is similar to a recent ad campaign for DORITOS® that “features no logo or brand name, to attract a younger, advertising-averse generation.” The ads feature bags in either solid red or solid blue and equilateral triangles with hashtags: #cheesy #cool #spicy #ranch.

Of course the DORITOS ads aren’t really free of logos. They’re chock full of logos: They’re just less obvious. This advertising appeals to people who think of themselves as advertising-averse. This is akin to the strategy used by ACNE STUDIOS. It says “You’re cool. So are we. Buy our stuff.”

Shout out to Liz B. for bringing the DORITOS ads to my attention and to Mary M. for making me think differently about ACNE.

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