Friday, December 28, 2012

Our 2013 New Logo Wish List

We saw a lot of brand revisions over the last 12 months.

Some good, some not-so-good.
Nearly all following a trend in “less is more/K.I.S.S.” marketing design.

But while many brands decided to go under the knife this year, there’s many more that did not, but should have.

And so, without further ado, here’s just a  short list of the brands we’d like to see transformed in 2013.

In alphabetical order:
Bed Bath & Beyond
I almost always mistakenly say Bath & Body Works. Anyone else? Talk about a lack of brand equity!
Bed. Bath. And Beyond. The name itself is an alliteration of 3 B-words of public domain. How about Boring Bland and Bloated? And speaking of bloated, the word “BEYOND.”  I get what they’re trying to do here; intimate their store carries EVERYTHING. But it just looks lazy and out of date.

They need something that’s more compact, even when stacked. The words themselves are uninspired, so BB&B should work to build some sort of brand personality out of the font/character style and colors they choose. Partner the name with a mascot even? It couldn’t hurt.

I’ll never understand why GM would give the ax to Pontiac only to leave Buick standing. Pontiac drove excitement, what’s Buick drive? Grandmas and grandpas to church, that’s what. And not very fast.
I’m guessing that I’m not Buick’s target market. But really, I want to know where GM sees this nameplate within its brand ecosystem. While Cadillac is old luxury, is Buick the other 99%? Our grandparents loved them, but that was 20+ years ago. As our parents take their place in the family tree they’re not just going to concede themselves to driving mom and dad’s car. And so, a new Buick for a new generation of Buick owners! That’s what we need.

The circle + 3 bands of armor could be completely reimagined. Maybe it’s a rectangle with a tighter crop on the shields? Maybe in includes a new palate of color? Maybe the word “Buick” comes back in dropped casing? How to get there is up to you. Just get there.

Burger King
I'm pretty sure my Burger King Kids Club (BKKC) membership documents boasted the same corporate seal back in 1992.
The primary blue + red + yellow just feels greasy and chock full of saturated fat. Use brand revision as an opportunity to more clearly articulate your position in the face of competition. It doesn’t have to be drastic like Wendy’s Q1 forecasted change (ick). Maybe, like Arby’s, it’s just a matter of growing up a bit.

Instead of basic, garish color, opt for a silver, almost-metallic finish? Or maybe rich earth tones? Down play “Burger King” for an abbreviated “BK” in a stately new font. Finally put a crown on the thing (subtle, yet kitschy).
Neiman Marcus
Is it too early to call the Target-Neiman holiday partnership a flop? It was a decent attempt at meeting next-gen luxury buyers where they are today, but with store shelves still stocked, year-end mark downs were imminent. It might be time to take brand redefinition a new direction.
50% off and STILL not moving?
A quick stroll down Chicago’s Michigan Ave this time of year will help size up the competition. For Saks, it’s a simple-stoic Christmas, classic luxury. Nordstrom is warm charming eclectic (oh, and obsessed with birds). Then on the other end of the spectrum, Bloomingdales hosts a bright and boisterous, high-energy holiday. These auras transcend the stores’ holiday motifs into everyday branding. And so I ask again, who is Neiman-Marcus?
Neiman’s is taupe walls and tan dated marble floors. Neiman’s is your rich (great) aunt’s store – where she can still buy loose knit sweaters with sparkles and extra-high shoulder pads. It’s stuffy with heavy perfume and always at least 10 degrees too hot.

I realize for heritage retail brands it's a giant leap of faith to stray on logo. But there's no equity in ultra-80's squiggle fonts. It looks like it should be spelling out “you can do it!” on the wall of a jazzercise class. You’re on your own with this one, guys – but there’s got to be something you can do to breathe some new life into NM.

Pizza Hut
I know, we loved the 90's too, but they aren't coming back. Actually, the clothes might, but let’s not wait up, OK?
The font feels like it belongs to a Mexican fast-casual restaurant. And seriously, what’s with the squirt of yellow mustard at the bottom? And the jalapeño pepper dotted “i?” Do you even have jalapeño peppers? The iconic roofline has been reduced to a misshapen mess that even the most agreeable Red Hat Society gal would refuse to wear.

Put simply, the logo is sloppy and doesn’t compute well in the age of digital. Cleaner lines, less scribbles. As the menu expands, maybe consider dropping to “The Hut?”

Verizon Wireless
I suppose they’re too busy ruling the air to come down to earth for a brand tune up. The logo is not half bad. It’s just over-exposed.
We see it daily; across every advertising channel imaginable. 34(ish)% of us see it every time we go to return a text. Sprint refreshed when it purchased Nextel and AT&T recently refined casing and their globe. So maybe it’s just that Verizon seems to be the only one still using last generation’s logo. If there’s any industry where you want to feel young, hip, and cutting edge, it’s mobile telecom. And yet, every time I see the Verizon logo, I think of my first cell phone, the Qualcomm Kyocera (circa 2000).

It was cool on flip phones. Now what do you got for smart phones?

So there you have it. 6 brands on my new logo wish list for 2013.

Do you have any others to add?
Please, share with us!

….and Happy New Year everyone!

Friday, December 7, 2012

WeightWatchers’ new logo trims the fat (exposes something else).

It’s been awhile since we’ve done a Facelift/Faceoff Friday challenge.

That’s because most companies wouldn’t think about undergoing a brand transformation amidst the calamity of the holidays. Unless of course Q4 is one of your least busy seasons and your gearing up for a rush that inevitably comes with the start of each New Year.

New Year’s Resolutions are what keep WeightWatchers in business.

And so as the weight loss/monitoring juggernaut prepares to usher in a new class of self-loathing pound shed hopefuls, they decided to give their brand a quick tummy tuck.
Personally, I saw nothing wrong with the last one. It was bright and active, slim and flowing – all the things you’d want your experience with weight loss to be. It didn’t feel dated or as if it had lost its impact.

The new logo falls victim to the same trend in brand homogenization we described earlier this year. It ditches much of what made WeightWatchers stand out, opting for a mega-simple, ultra-reductive treatment comprised of a single case, single color, and dime-a-dozen font.

Relax. It does a few things right.

As you move from left to right, the fade from black to gray to white feels transformative. In that regard, it conjures up a notion of what the weight loss process should be; starting in the dark, moving to the light.

It also feels more masculine (or, at least not feminine), an arena WeightWatchers has been trying to break into since adding basketball legend Charles Barkley to their portfolio of celebrity endorsements last year (did he give up the Taco Bell spots or is he just a post child of confliction?).

But wait. Look again. What’s that in the center?
A big, gray twat.

Oops. By dropping all casing, the words ‘weight’ + ‘watchers’ become a 14-letter game of word find (and with a second glance, my eyes found a doozy). True, the word has several meanings. But none of which a woman wants top of mind as they embark upon their new diet.

How does this not get caught during the creative process? Has no one at WeightWatchers or the agency of record run into similar issues when combining the words before?

One thing’s for sure – if you didn’t notice it before, it’s all you’ll see now.

All is not lost. A simple reversion back to the upper/lower formula would dilute the impact of stringing all the letters together. It’s a quick fix, but will it get applied?
As of 12/7/12
The current form is up on the site now – I can’t imagine it will make it into 2013.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Don’t text and drive; plain and simple.

For some, texting isn’t just an addiction; it’s become a natural reflex.

(And I’m ashamed to admit I’ve about reached that point).

My eyes glance down on my iPhone any free second they get. There’s times where I’ll will myself NOT to look at it before I complete x, y, and z but sure enough, instinct takes over and I’m pulling down on my Facebook feed – +2 new stories? Let me at ‘em!

There’s no point in people watching on the walk to work anymore – everyone is face-down in their palms, scrolling, clicking, and typing.  We’re zombies walking among zombies.

While walking and texting is a challenge, driving is downright deadly. It’s become such a problem that businesses and federal law alike are beginning to take a stand in driving awareness.

Two samples of note I recently stumbled upon that pack a similar punch.
One by Volkswagen and the other by the State of Rhode Island:

Advertising at its best.

Both are instantly recognizable to even the most laissez-faire of us texters.

By using the auto-correct/suggestion function to expose the serious realities of texting and driving, the message really makes you question whether the correspondence is worth the gamble with consequence.

The campaigns’ messages are enhanced further as the subject of the ‘intended’ texts couldn’t be more ordinary. Do you really want to seriously diminish the path of your life over a couple of typed words?

Simple, straight to the point.

HUGE impact.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Can someone tell Microsoft’s Surface it’s not an iPad?

Because it sure advertises like one!

Surface came out of nowhere, didn’t it? I’m in the tech industry and even I didn’t see it coming!

Now that it’s here, Microsoft is laying down dollars to promote the hell out of it.

Have you seen this commercial yet?

It seems to pop up during at least three of the four commercial blocks on my Hulu.

I’ll admit, I like it.

The ads are stimulating, bright, and, dare I say, ‘snappy?’

But when you’re up against the iPad, that doesn’t cut it.
When the guy to beat holds 55% of the user base (and that’s down 14% from Q2 ’12), you have to be more focused in your approach.

Now I know what you’re thinking – part of demand stimulation is intrigue! You can’t lay all your specs out there if you’re depending on a bit of mystery to drive store traffic and conversion.

Fine. So run the flashy, catchy, say-nothing-about-the-product dance number UNTIL product launch.

Not after.

After, money would be better spent using the sixty seconds to explain WHY Surface is the better buy.

It should be a direct appeal that proactively quells doubters.
“We know your love your iPad – we’re quite fond of it too.
Here’s where Surface comes in to play and here’s why you need it.”

When you lead the market, preside over a band of cult-like brand advocates and show no sign of stopping, then you can blow your commercial spots dancing around.

Until then, you have to make a harder case; you have to show features. You have to grovel for the opportunity to convince.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Why so mean, Social Media?

Have you ever stopped to read the replies or comments posted on one of your favorite brand’s Facebook pages or twitter accounts?

WARNING: Offensive Content

Do it sometime.

And I thought I had no friends!?

Incoherent, whiny requests; negative and downright offensive language; even the most beloved brands fall victim.


There’s a certain anonymity about social media that encourages users to more freely speak their minds.

Unlike real-time verbal altercations in the physical world, where going face-to-face with brand reps can quickly turn personal, virtual brand stewards are able to digest onslaught opinion and respond with a delay.

And so, their responses are ALWAYS cool, calm, and collected (which, when you’re fired up, only provokes a deeper rage).

You don’t want to host your own brand roast.

These types of environments are no longer positive. They aren’t conducive to brand building – even with your strongest advocates. The bulk of dialogue has turned petty and reactionary.

So what should you do when you’re not feeling the Social Media Love?

1. Start by practicing self-regulation
I know – the last thing you want to do with an angstful group of followers is start deleting posts. You fear removing their comments will only lead to their posting 5 more – accusing you of being anti-American, anti-free speech, etc.

LEGO has the right idea. Consider validating regulation by establishing a vague set of “house rules:” 
Playing it cool...
Sure, as a toy manufacture catering primarily to children; monitoring social media is a bit more justifiable. Still, offensive language and distracting content is something you as forum owner should NOT be afraid to remove.

But mind the fine line.

Don’t delete EVERYTHING that feels negative
People should be able to post legitimate gripes. They’ll respect you more for leaving it – and be more interested to hear your resolve. In that respect, social media can serve as a think tank for constant improvement.

2. When monitoring fails, scale back completely
Forget what you’ve heard – not everyone has a reason to be active on Facebook and Twitter.

If the bulk of your posts (business and non-business alike) are met with hostility, just BAIL.
Keep place holders on all the big players. Consider making social media’s sole purpose the dissemination of “emergency information” – (issues affecting coverage, outlet closures, etc).

Bottom line: Social media efforts should bolster brand affinity, not disparage it.

Don’t play host to a growing community of disgruntled customers.

If it feels like it’s not enhancing your relationship with customers – scale back.