A brand is not a logo (Part 2) ~ Brand Mix

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

A brand is not a logo (Part 2)

Only last week I posted about how the Mongols, a motorcycle gang from Los Angeles, was prepared to fight both the Hells Angels and the even more fearsome U.S. Attorney's office for the right to wear their signature patch. People have died over this.

So, although I agree with Seth Godin and Oliver Blanchard when they repeat the mantra that "a brand is not a logo," I can't leap with them to the conclusion that logo design has little to no value. Seth says: "Smart marketers understand that a new logo can't possibly increase your market share." Can't possibly?

There are a couple of reasons that logo redesign makes more sense for Pepsi than the average brand. The first is its packaging is everywhere and people see it all the time. Pepsi talks to consumers through this medium. The second is that Pepsi positions itself against Coke as being more contemporary, more dynamic, more what they once described as the "choice of a new generation." Updating, renovating and changing things helps them show that they are staying one step ahead.

Whether the new logo succeeds or not is a different question. Here's the before and after:
(via brandXpress)


KrisColvin said...

I actually think the Pepsi logo redesign is a big mistake. Awesome pic of all the logos! The current logo at a glance is MUCH stronger in my opinion, and has symmetry. The new logo does not at all resemble a "smile" or whatever, it just looks like an abstract, off-kilter swoosh. What a waste of money, when they could have spent it REALLY building their brand. A logo change alone will not rejuvenate the drinker, or a tired brand. It takes more than that.

BIG Kahuna said...

Will it hurt the brand? Probably not. Will it help the brand? Probably not. Will Pepsi drinkers switch to Coke? Nope.

It will however cost them a fortune changing all the trucks, signs, packaging, business cards etc.

The new design seems more sophisticated to me and I'm not sure that's their target market. Their packaging design really looks sleek as opposed to "young".

Jay Gangi said...

Hey, I'm all for refreshing a brand's image. But at what cost? They are looking at making multi-million dollar investment on signs, trucks, uniforms, and packaging when their sales are soft and the economy is in the tank. Perhaps they think it will pay higher dividends in non-U.S. markets where they have have had better growth. Indra's smart, my guess is this is about helping international expansion.

Anonymous said...

I was at the IDEA conference today in NYC and design came up a couple of times. The guy from ETSY and the guy from Nau both said something similar. By NOT slapping their logo on their products, they felt it encouraged conversation and dialogue. If you are at a friends house and like the Method hand soap, you'll ask your host, "Hey, what kind of soap is that?" And now a conversation with a brand evangelist begins. Same with the recently revived Nau brand.

Logos have a purpose, but they are merely a tactic, not a strategy.

Russell Volckmann said...

The new Pepsi brand revitalization--and I use that term loosely in this case--has created quite a controversy in the branding community. In fact Julio Ferro (former Creative Director at Futurebrand) and I were exchanging quite a bit of opinion about it here at this Webjam blog URL:


The gist of my comments were that the new Pepsi marks are strange: the faux future minimalist wordmark, and the huge departure in the Pepsi logo. Stranger still, is the variation in the logo: variances in color, variances in swish size between the product line. PLUS the prominent "0" (I assume, "zero", for zero calories) on Pepsi Light & Max is a distraction from the brand mark. Pepsi is certainly breaking from established brand tenets of consistency. Innovative or folly?

From all appearances, this says "forget the last new generation", forget any associated brand loyalty, forget any visual integrity. In a way, the new façade resembles the advent of a plethora of new sports drinks and vitamin waters flooding the market. Do they want to fake people into believing this is something sporty or healthy? The minimalist lowercase thin wordmark certainly implies this. Probably soft drink makers always wanted to do this, but feigning the somewhat unhealthy reality of their product.

Coca-Cola by contrast seems to be a rock in terms of brand, comparatively solid and unwavering, and honest in its offerings. It's been around for generations, it tastes great, and everyone loves it. Although, I must point out that even Coca-Cola has tried several departures from history in terms of its visual marks (the "swish" is relatively new) and even its drink formula. In fact 20 years ago or so, Coca-Cola even tried a "new taste" for the Coca-Cola drink that more resembled Pepsi, which was rising in popularity at that time. Major mistake. The company then scrambled to re-introduce the "old Coke" by calling it "Coca-Cola Classic".

By the way, Pepsi has always tried to be trendy in its brand marks and image... to what degree it has been successful for their brand I do not know, but I have always thought that Pepsi never really "got it" and were always a few years behind the trends they were attempting to emulate (badly).

Russell Volckmann said...

Here is an image of the newly branded line of products... as an example of the logo variances.


Martin Bishop said...

Thanks for providing a link to the new range of Pepsi products. That shows some additional features of teh redesign that I wasn't aware of--the variances in color and swish size that you mention. It's a bigger change than my side-by-side of the logos implied.

Morgan Coudray said...

It's great that you're challenging the big names because I think you got a point. The logo is an integral part of a brand because it acts as a link between the brand and the consumer. It enables us to recognize it and everything that it stand for.

Russell Volckmann said...

Very welcome, Martin. Thanks for the acknowledgment. Very much enjoying and appreciating your brand bubble articles.

Back to the Pepsi conversation...

Beyond the logo, Coke makes the brand connection well beyond what Pepsi has achieved. Coke brand stakeholders (customers, peers, competitors, community--the Coke brand tribe) connect with Coca Cola also on other meaningful levels. Coca Cola reaches out as a good world citizen, and a contributor. As a group of people who want to give back. And yet so does Pepsi. What is the difference in perception?

Look at the way Pepsi speaks to its audiences. It's 10-year old jargon. Read any of Pepsi's marketing copy sometime. Look at their commercials. Now look at the way Coca Cola communicates. It's transparent, from the heart, and relevant.

Aathira said...

Change is the only thing that remains constant.In this competitive world every company to sustain has to change with time. I agree with BIG Kahuna that logo change as such does not hurt or build a brand. What i understood about these logo changes is - companies change with times to appeal the new audiences.how can the companies higlight this? answer- through a visible brand element LOGOs!!!

here i have compiled evolution of many companies logo.Hope it will be helpful to all of you and please do comment and give suggestions :)

looking forward for your comments:)

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