The Essence of Branding and Rule #1 of Marketing – when you have a logo that people recognize and that’s successful – You don’t change it – That is the essence of branding! Actually it’s a state of branding that many companies would do anything to have and honestly, very very few ever achieve.
Being branded takes many years and tens of millions of dollars to accomplish, if not more, but most importantly, once you are branded in the marketplace – it’s what separates you from the competition. Especially from the knock off artists and others who are trying to ride on your coattails.
Case in point, you can walk down the aisle of any grocery store anywhere in the world and when you see a red 12 ounce can with white script lettering you instantly know it’s Coke. Or if you see a dark blue can you instantly know it’s Pepsi.
The same goes for many top tier brands; Ford, Prada, Gucci, DKNY, etc etc.
I find it shockingly stupid and absurd that the current GAP management would consider changing it’s logo. I could understand if the company was in deep financial trouble or on the verge of bankruptcy.
I believe there comes a point in a brand’s success or, as I like to call it, “character arc” or “progression” where the public is so vested in the brand, its success and instant visibility are assured. The brand is always their choice. Maintaining that vested commitment and recognition is the CEO’s and upper management’s sole purpose. This is what I mean when I talk about “the custodian of the brand.”
That is, deliver what the buyer – who ultimately pays their check by buying the goods and services – wants. Meaning: “if it’s not broke…. don’t fix it.”
In my opinion many CEOs don’t get this. They come in with such bravado or arrogance, “I’m gonna change this and that and make my mark.” What they don’t realize is that this company has been successful for a long time… much longer than they have been around and frankly their sole job is to continually deliver the goods and services on the level that “their” customer has been used to and pays for.
Again, Many CEO’s make the fatal mistake that they are going to cut the quality to save a few pennies and ultimately they make all the wrong decisions based on all the wrong indicators and alienate their loyal customers. Why? They truly don’t know and understand their brand. Maybe it’s their ego, arrogance, lack of knowledge, experience, or in most cases their lack of vision. Maybe it’s one of those out points or a combination of many.
Boots on the ground – For many CEOs probably the best thing, not to mention most humbling, is visit many of their stores – not just the flagships – and act like an unsuspecting customer and simply talk to their customers. Find out what they truly like about the brand. Again a major problem is that they instantly think they need to hire a focus group or some agency. NOT. They need to get out there and find the heartbeat of their brand!
One thing is sure, the focus should be simple. You have built a brand over many many years and earned the very hard to achieve trust of your customers – your job: Be the custodian of the brand and deliver what you customers have come to expect. Therefore, if there is anything to focus on it should be management. Yes, better managing of the brand and to further create exciting, engaging and/or better marketing ideas, plans and campaigns to expose/expand your brand to a greater audience.
All one needs to do is research the Old Spice campaign and experience the brilliance of how Old Spice reinvented themselves in the marketplace. Also the Ford Fiesta Movement, which I was a part of. There you can see how brilliantly Ford expanded into the sub-compact car market.
For a highly established brand like the GAP to even consider changing their logo sends up a huge management red flag. How much money was wasted on this lame attempt to better something that was already great? Even worse is what Ad Agency or Marketing Company in their right mind would even consider changing the GAP’s logo? Stupid – flat out stupid. Who ever they are…. In my opinon, I would highly question using their services! They do not understand the essence of branding. I find it laughable that a Consultant online would even try to justify and reason this failed attempt – sounds like it’s time to clean house and look for new management.
Thanks to the power of Twitter and social media common sense has prevailed. The outcry on social media sites has been staggering. It’s hard to believe that it’s so obvious to the social media crowd but oblivious to the GAP Management. Amazing.
Note to all other CEO’s and Branded Company’s take copious notes at the GAP’s expense. Stick to managing… isn’t that what you got that MBA for?
Branding Lesson #1 – If it’s not broke – don’t fix it.