NB: It’s been a while since I cross-posted a LIKELIHOOD OF CONFUSION® piece here, but I thought this might be of some non-technical interest, so here goes! I posted this last week, on the February 21st; it’s as fresh as ever, however. — RDC
This was–I thought–my kind of blog post: a guest post on Duets Blog by graphic designer Ellie Drotning:
When I hear a well-known brand has redesigned its mark, I’m like a kid on Christmas morning. For a graphic designer with a particular penchant for logos and branding, a new logo is like a gift I can’t wait to tear open. But when I got my first look at J. C. Penney Corp., Inc.’s new logo, I was disappointed. If I had been a four-year-old, I’d have been wearing a big ol’ pouty face.
I don’t understand why the friendly, familiar name of JCPenney is gone, replaced by a set of cold, impersonal initials: jcp. Nor do I understand the American-flag imagery. Nothing about this brand, its products or services is any more patriotic than any other American company, but this logo screams “America!” With the new CEO, Ron Johnson (a former Apple Inc. and Target executive) and the new president, Michael Francis (fresh from his last position as CMO of Target) at the helm, I was hoping for a little more cleverness and sophictication. My designer-y prejudices took over and I decided the reinvented jcpenney (or should I call it jcp?) had not won me over.
Ah. So, this I like, especially because, while I had not been aware of the J.C. Penny makeover, I had had similar thoughts very recently about a couple of related minimalist repackagings. One is the now-old-news “KFC,” the rebranding of the fast-food greasatorium formerly known as Kentucky Fried Chicken, now trying to make us forget about the fried, the chicken and probably the Kentucky, too. The second one is the rebranding of Dunkin’ Donuts, evidently — I say this based on the radio ads I am hearing — into something stupidly called “Dunkin’.”
Now it turns out, on investigation, that Dunkin’ has been at work on a rebranding strategy (remember, we want to forget anything fried!) for quite some time. They’ve only recently pushed the campaign into the implausible-sounding radio spots in which we are supposed to believe that real people are calling Dunkin’ Donuts “Dunkin,’” which is simply preposterous. I can see “KFC,” see; people like abbreviations. But “Dunkin’,” while shorter than Dunkin’ Donuts, sounds — what was that word again? — stupid.
And how’s that rebranding going? Well, this article in UK The Economist actually answers that question unintentionally by mentioning Dunkin’ Donuts in the process of ignoring its rebranding while criticizing the ham-fisted rebranding efforts of tonier shops:
Why do people get so upset about such changes? An obvious reason is that so many logos and names are either pig ugly or linguistically challenged. Think of BT’s “piper” logo, which looked like someone drinking a yard of ale and disfigured all things BT-related for 12 years (admittedly, Britain’s incumbent telecoms firm was not too popular to begin with); or the SciFi channel’s decision to call itself SyFy—a name that raises the spectre of syphilis. . . .
The debate about logos reveals something interesting about power as well as passion. Much of the rage in the blogosphere is driven by a sense that “they” (the corporate stiffs) have changed something without consulting “us” (the people who really matter). This partly reflects a hunch that consumers have more power in an increasingly crowded market for goods. But it also reflects the sense that brands belong to everyone, not just to the corporations that nominally control them.
They want your opinion, as long as it’s positive
Companies have gone out of their way to encourage these attitudes. They not only work hard to create emotional bonds with consumers . . . They involve them in what used to be regarded as internal corporate operations. Snapple asks Snapple-drinkers to come up with ideas for new drinks. Threadless encourages people to compete to design T-shirts.
Starbucks has been in the forefront of this consumer revolution. It consults consumers on everything from the ambience of its stores to its environmental policies. It emphasises that it is not just in the business of selling coffee. It sells entry to a community of like-minded people (who are so very different from the types who get their coffee from Dunkin’ Donuts or McDonald’s) gathered in a “third place” that is neither home nor work.
Oh, yeah… Dunkin’ Donuts. That clipping-service find (forgive me the anachronism) must have warmed the cockles of the Dunkin’ Brands hearts: rebranding penetration, zero and counting.
But anyway, yes, there’s the substance of that Economist quote, and what I thought was a similar argument in Ellie Drotning’s post. I’m not against rebranding, mind you. I’m against dumb-branding.
But that wasn’t the point (and admittedly, it would have been almost banal if it had been) of the blog post at all. And now: The rest of the story: Continue reading