File another one in the “European companies with unfortunate branding” bin: My former co-worker Rabble pointed me to an image manipulation platform which does live previews of Word Documents, PDFs and MP3s on the web from Austrian company wollzelle.
Called ImageGeisha. Oy.
At this point, there isn’t anything I haven’t said before: racial caricatures are completely taboo subjects for Americans. In branding, especially — that’s why our software logos uses ridiculous swooshes and images of gears. Europeans, notsomuch. I’ll be honest; I was all ready to write an ZOMG SO ANGRY post a couple of days ago, and then softened my position when I noticed they modified their branding and read through some comments. Here’s why.
If there’s anything different between this situation and, say, the great Mister Wong fiasco of 2007, it would be that at the folks at ImageGeisha are cognizant of their international audience right off the bat, and there’s been an open, frank and immediate discussion between the folks at wollzelle and dissenting commenters. Each side makes their case, compromises can be made, and I can think of the mascot as an adorable figurine you can buy at a gift shop in J-Town that, say, a completely subservient female stereotype imposed by Western society upon all Asian people. My standpoint will probably not sit will with the more activist folk out there. So be it.
And if nothing else, they modified their original tagline: “ImageGeisha, at your service, polishing your assets.” As if the application would preview your PowerPoint presentation, and then give you a handjob afterwards.