NEW YORK, Nov. 14, 2017 /PRNewswire/ — The pink, cat-eared “pussyhat” that became the icon of the Women’s March in January will be announced as first ever “Brand of the Year” by SVA Masters in Branding Chair Debbie Millman, at Brandstand on Wednesday, November 15th, in New York City.

Marchers wear Pink Pussyhats at the Women's March in January 2017

In 1964, Marshall McLuhan coined, “The medium is the message,” and ushered in the notion that both the message and medium of it influence how any communication is perceived. In the Insta-culture of the early 21st century, it is daunting to navigate through meta-data to find the meteoric. In an effort to understand, measure, mark, and codify the meteoric, competitions have been created to determine the excellence and impact of messages.

All of these competitions require an entry fee and, often, a complicated entry form to complete, which must detail and justify the ROI, KPI, and reach of the entrant. But what happens to brands and products that don’t enter these competitions? These brands might not be aware of the competitions, or they might not be able to afford the hefty entry fees. These potential worthy entrants are all but ignored.

The Masters in Branding program at the School of Visual Arts in New York City wants to challenge and democratize the rules of these contests. For the first time ever, the esteemed faculty in this program have taken a sweeping look at commerce and culture to identify the First Annual Brand of The Year. There was no entry form to fill out, no entry fee to pay. In fact, there was no effort at all by any brand to be considered for this award.

We are now at a tipping point in the way brands are being created. Branding has finally become democratized, and the results are not about the commercial. The SVA Masters in Branding program has chosen the First Annual Brand of the Year to be the Pink Pussyhat. This brand has not been initiated for any financial benefit. It was created by the people for the people to serve the highest purpose branding has: to bring people together for the benefit of humanity. The Pink Pussyhat is proof positive that branding is not just a tool of capitalism—branding has the potential to become a profound manifestation of the human spirit.

RSVP here to attend “Brandstand: States of America” on Wednesday 11/15 to hear the announcement of “Brand of the Year” or email Emily Weiland to be added to the press list.

Press contact:   
Emily Weiland, Director of Operations  
SVA Masters in Branding Program  
1 (803) 840-1843


The Pink Pussyhat was conceived by Krista Suh and Jayna Zweiman, a screenwriter and architect from Los Angeles, CA. Kat Coyle, the owner of The Little Knittery knitting shop, designed the pattern for the hat. The hat was created to be worn at the Women’s March the day after the Presidential inauguration in Washington, DC. The brand was launched in November 2016, and the name of the hat was an intentional response to President Trump’s recorded comments about his ability to “grab (women) by the pussy.” Over 10 million women wore handmade pink pussy hats at or in support of Women’s March’s worldwide on January 21, 2017.


Named “one of the most creative people working in business” by Fast Company, Debbie Millman is an author, educator, brand strategist, and host of the podcast, Design Matters. For 20 years, she was President of the design division at Sterling Brands, where she worked with over 200 of the world’s largest brands. In 2009, she cofounded the world’s first graduate program in branding at the School of Visual Arts in New York City. 


The Master of Professional Studies in Branding, the first of its kind, is a one-year graduate degree program that examines the relationship between design and strategy, and the power of design thinking as a way to combine creative skills with the problem-solving and decision-making processes of design and business.

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SOURCE School of Visual Arts