You don’t need only to read encyclopedias and comprehensive documents to learn about any particular culture. Essential knowledge lies in lived experiences, which helps people have a better idea of the world.
We find great value in being able to understand cultural world views based on the collective consciousness, in particular when it’s passed on through speech.
At Invade, we took the term “local wisdom” to support an idea and address a branding project in Medellín, Colombia.
It comes from our grand-parents and great-great-grandparents’ oral tradition, going from generation to generation, evolving and gaining terms from each region’s slang. This tradition makes it a communication and behavior mechanism for people.
It’s a way of expressing how they understand life, and it’s inspired by religious, humorous, and sometimes sarcastic elements, to imply a culture’s knowledge, it’s wisdom.
This is a very enriching path when you need to immerse yourself into an audience’s traditions and customs, and it will ultimately bring useful ideas in any creative process for projects that are influenced by the culture of a place.
Medellín, capital of the Paisa culture
Antioquia is a relevant department for Colombia, and the people who were born in this territory are called “Antioqueños.” However, another term is used more often to refer to those who were born and raised there, and to some neighbors, all bound to its world views and customs: “Los Paisas.”
Medellín is where this culture expresses itself the most, which makes it a reference city for those who live in other regions and for tourists, in terms of traditions and slang.
Paisa writer Jorge Franco contributes a lot to the city, and in his literary work, he tells the world how difficult it is to separate his creative exercise from the place and the customs he was raised…
“…in Medellín is like those matrons from yesteryear, full of children, devoted to prayer, merciful and possessive, but also a seductive mother, a whore, exuberant and bright. He who leaves comes back, he who rejects retracts, he who insults her apologizes and he who hurts her pays for it. She does something very strange to us, because despite the fear she instills in us, the desire to leave all of us have had at some point, despite having been killed many times, Medellín always ends up winning.”
Jorge Franco, 1999 — Rosario Tijeras, Medellín, Colombia.
Interpretations like this one show the very Paisa local wisdom, which has been sharply defined by living in mountainous territory.
The oral tradition also includes other resources worth underlining, such as popular sayings or proverbs that are part of Paisas’ daily lives and feed the wisdom we have been talking about. This helped us to get a deeper understanding of how this specific audience behaves.
A few months ago, we worked on the identity of Mamasita, a restaurant that opened at the end of 2019 in Medellín, to be a meeting point for friends, locals, and tourists who appreciate the beauty of the popular and value the essence of what’s typical; in other words, those who are sensitive to the local wisdom of the place.
Inspired by the Paisa peculiarity of the traditional mule driving labor, the typical gastronomy, and the popular iconography, we created a refreshing identity for this place of typical gastronomy.
“Mamasita” is the word people use in Medellín to talk about a beautiful woman with great physical charm. The client chose this name for the brand to use the localness of the term and the appeal of its meaning. This allowed us to work with a feminine figure to represent the name.
With a logotype in script typography, the brand is between the informal and the exclusive, considering its attributes and the audience’s needs.
The shield of Antioquia, the birthplace of the Paisa culture, is one of the most significant symbols for the department, as it includes the mountains, their vegetation, and the water that streams down from them. In the middle, a “matron,” the woman who represents the local race.
We wanted to reinterpret it and apply it to the brand.
We used the link between the brand’s name and cultural symbols to create a visual system where this feminine figure is central with refreshing and tropical colors, which give the brand a more contemporary context. Using messages that are specific to the local wisdom would reinforce the narrative, its place, and its remembrance.
Understanding the cultures in which brands are immersed can reveal very interesting discoveries for their narratives. Mamasita is another clear example of how brands are influenced by the place they were born in.
Even though not all brands want to look like the place they are from, it is essential to understand the context that surrounds them to make strategic decisions to highlight and communicate their message correctly.