Advertising & Practical Thinking

The advertising profession is cold and cruel. The power of practical thinking is a perfect antidote.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

When Do You Rebrand? (Part One)

On April 20, 2009, one of the National Football League’s most inept franchises, the Detroit Lions, unveiled a new logo (http://sports.espn.go.com/nfl/news/story?id=4083796).

Is the new logo going to make the 2009 edition of the Detroit Lions a better team? By default, maybe. After all, in 2008 the team sported a 0-16 record, and even one win this season will be an improvement.

The visual identity of a product, or its logo, is only one of the many elements that constitute its brand. However, as a visual element, it contributes heavily to the make-up of the brand.

I have often stated, “A brand is not what you see or hear, it is what you feel.”

Yet, many companies revise/refresh the look of their brand by redesigning and re-launching their logo. The latest to reenter this arena is PepsiCo. All their major brands including Pepsi, Mountain Dew, Gatorade, and Tropicana have been rebranded and re-launched in the last three months. Not a bad idea, especially considering the fact sales of their flagship brand, Pepsi-Cola (as with all carbonated beverages) was slipping. For Pepsi, will the “Forever Young” statement sell more cases? Quite possibly.

Everyone wants to be Apple (the apple of the consumer’s eye – sorry, could not resist the temptation) and mimic the minimalist look of the iPod. This was one of PepsiCo’s objectives.

Sorry, a brand is what you feel, not what you see (or hear.)

So, when does a company/product rebrand itself? At times, never. BMW has always been The Ultimate Driving Machine; KLM, The Reliable Airline; All State Insurance, You’re in good hands; Morton Salt, When it rains it pours; and, Wheaties Cereals, The Breakfast of Champions, are a few solitary diamonds (are forever, as with De Beers Consolidated Mines) in a grave yard of retired brand slogans.

There are a few that come to mind who should have rebranded themselves years ago. Topping the list is State Farm Insurance. Take a look at their logo (www.statefarm.com). Not only is it ancient, but it also tells you that autos, life, and fire are the only insurance products they offer. What about health insurance and home insurance? And where is their "Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there" slogan on the web page?

The conspicuous absence of the slogan from web sites, product packaging, and at times even advertisements is appalling, and many companies are guilty of this crime. And the returned verdict from the CEOs of these companies: “Our branding strategy is not working. We need to rebrand.”

Back to the Detroit Lions. Their new logo has made the visual of the leaping lion from the old logo (in Hawaiian blue) more ferocious, bearing its newly appointed teeth. The questions then become, will the Detroit Lions players when they take the field in their opening game, show the same ferocity and will there be any bight in their new found teeth? Will the Detroit Lions fans hear the roar of the rebranded team?

Please do come back for When Do You Rebrand? (Part Two)


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