In a way, there’s something kind of cool about a company that changes its logo every decade or so: Each new logo is like a cultural milestone - a snapshot if you will, of that decade’s graphic flavor, and how tastes change over time. But I guess once you get past the cool time capsule thing, you kind of have to wonder: Has each change in logo actually resulted in some kind of benefit for the Pepsi Cola company?a
If you’ve ever wondered why it seems impossible to fill a grocery cart without adding at least one item whose packaging has been redesigned, the answer to your question is the fact that you’ve asked it. “New look! Same great taste!” openly confesses the blatant goal of catching your eye for no substantial reason. Humans have always noticed novelty, but it’s harder to get our attention in the multicolored and abundant context of a megamart, where one heap of bananas looks much like another. This makes it all the more impressive that Chiquita has received so much notice by being creative with the little blue stickers that adorn its flagship fruit.
Back in the day—I’m talking about the Mad Men days, the three-martini-lunch days, the “Why don’t we shoot this spot on a yacht in the Mediterranean?” days—people felt that specificity was key when it came to naming a brand. The creative masterminds behind brands like Kentucky Fried Chicken (1952) and Dunkin’ Donuts (1950) made a decision to hit the nail squarely on the head. These names say: “Here we are, and this is what we have to offer.” Or rather, “Maybe you’re not smart enough to understand something abstract, so we’re going to say it exactly like it is.” Well, it worked. In fact, a good many no-frills names are still household staples, like the Ball Park Franks (1959) in your Sub-Zero freezer (1945). But times are more sophisticated. Most of us are equipped with “marketing-dar”—that internal warning bell that goes off when we know someone’s trying to sell us something.
"Caution. Not all hazards are marked." I couldn't help but notice this sign on the side of a ski trail during a recent vacation in the mountains. As I slowed my descent I thought about how this sign could apply to any number of things in this crazy world. Being in the brand business, I also thought about how apt they were relative to navigating the current marketplace. It's one thing to watch as consumer attitudes shift and you alter your product or service to meet the new conditions. It's another to sense that something's on the horizon and be the first in the category to address it. The ability to do so has always separated the good brands from the best brands.
It's no secret that the bottled water industry is headed for life support. Between rising environmental consciousness and a sagging economy, showing off your premium water label is about as socially acceptable an image as Ruth Madoff shopping at Hermés. So it's no surprise that trendspotters greeted the latest designer water bottle, a collaboration between Evian and Paul Smith, with a giant collective yawn. The collaboration strikes a remarkably different tone than past notable designer waters (Ty Nant and Lovegrove, Evian and Gaultier, Glacier and Starck).