Take Apple, for instance, one of the more successful
brands in the past five or 10 years. Yes, the iPod is
nearly ubiquitous because it’s a high-quality product.
But the campaign that launched it, and continues
to evolve, has captured the imagination and
interest of millions. Brilliant brand campaigns often
begin with a keen sense of what makes up the brand.
That’s why smart agencies and firms get inside
brand before they begin any creative work.
We set out to find similarities between four
brand campaigns from four different agencies. From
beer to banking, the overarching themes are trust and
collaboration. After all, without the trust of clients,
there wouldn’t be any work on branding campaigns.
And without their collaboration, how would we
know if our message is on-target?
Jamaicans know Red Stripe beer. After all, it’s
the only beer to originate in Jamaica. Last fall,
Diageo—Red Stripe’s parent company—set out
to refresh and reposition the brand to attract
a younger audience. Diageo recruited Object
9—a design firm based in Baton Rouge, La.—to
assist with their objective. Shortly after winning
the account, Object 9 spent a week in Jamaica
immersed in the culture.
Jon Cato, partner, and Andy Gutowski, partner
and creative director, visited watering holes from one
end of the island to the other. They wanted to see
Red Stripe fans from every walk of life. “What we
discovered is, Jamaicans are passionate people,” says
Gutowski. “They have a ‘live hard and play hard’
type of philosophy. That’s where we came up with
what ‘Live Red’ is all about. That’s something that
only Red Stripe as a brand can claim—the name Red
Stripe and that it’s the only beer that is the original
Jamaican icon—it’s something they can really
take ownership of and make that correlation with
Jamaicans’ lust for life with the brand.”
Though Object 9’s objective was to attract
a younger audience, the firm didn’t suggest a
brand overhaul. “In many ways, we were working
with a brand that we consider sacred,” says Cato.
“Everything about it is so well-established. Our
campaign was really an evolution of a message,
rather than ‘let’s rework this entire brand.’ It didn’t
need to be reworked.”
A brand that did need to be reworked was Seventh
Generation, a supplier of green cleaning products for
nearly 26 years. In fact, Seventh Generation was the
pioneer of green cleaning. Facing tougher competition,
Seventh Generation founder Jeffrey Hollander
recruited JDK Design to help differentiate the company
in the marketplace. Or, as he has described it,
“give them the keys to the car” for a while.
Ever since, you might say JDK has been using
a new road map. Their approach has revitalized the brand and positioned the supply company as
the pioneer of green cleaning in the marketplace.
Guided by the Great Iroquois Law—the founding
principle behind Seventh Generation’s name—JDK
has updated everything from the logo to the website.
They are working on new packaging that will debut
in the fall.
“Seventh Generation needed more advanced
communication in how the brand imparts its idea
and how we make the brand accessible to people, so
we worked on brand strategy and applied The Living
Brand process as well,” says Michael Jager, one of
three founding partners at JDK.
The Living Brand is at the heart of JDK Design’s
branding process. The Living Brand is a process of
discovery that reveals the overall differentiating idea
behind the brand, taking into account the emotional,
rational and cultural aspects of each brand.
“We liked the thought of Seventh Generation in
the context of redefining what clean is,” Jager says.
“It’s more like the relationship to home as an ecosystem.
We’re definitely working toward an idea that
takes them beyond cleaning products—to a relationship
to your home on a whole different level. To my
mind, there’s no reason they can’t be making bicycles,
or children’s toys or even books. Anything is possible
under this platform.”
Merry Maids, the house-cleaning franchise, also
launched a revamped branding campaign. When it
came time to pump new life into the brand, Merry
Maids called on a local firm, Memphis-based Archer
Malmo. Archer Malmo is a 55-year-old marketing
and branding firm that has worked with multiple
Fortune 500 companies over the years.
According to associate creative director Gary
Backaus, the key insight into the brand was learning
how customers felt about their “Merry Maids day.”
“One thing we found is that one of the real benefits
of this service is that you come home on the day that
Merry Maids is there and your whole house is clean,”
Backaus says. “Out of this research and that insight
[we developed] the tag line: ‘Relax, it’s done.’ This
[connects emotionally] to the benefit of the category,
whereas other competitors describe the company—this was about the benefit to the consumer.”
While the logo itself didn’t change, a graphic
standard with overall guidelines was developed that
consisted of a new color palette and layout format.
“We came up with a series of colors that we could
use interchangeably that were really designed, basically,
to appeal to a female audience and have a fresh,
contemporary look,” says Backaus. “We named the
colors things that fit with the category. We had a
purple color named lavender, a blue color named ocean and sort of this reddish-orange color we named
papaya. Most of the headlines had two parts [providing]
a one-two punch. We set them in different sizes
so there was an eye-catching part that was bigger, and
then there would be a little zinger part to it.”
Founded earlier this year by a group of former
banking executives in Houston, Texas, Icon Bank
is focused on serving small businesses as their only
clientele. After having a freelance designer create
their logo, Icon Bank heard from Deuce Creative,
a Houston-based marketing and design firm. Since
Icon wanted to position the brand in stark contrast to
the plethora of same-looking banks in Texas, Deuce
brought a forward-looking identity and branding
concept to the table. The logo is tilted at an angle to
indicate movement, and the color scheme—black and
yellow—is decidedly unpatriotic on purpose.
“The interesting thing was, we approached Icon
with several different taglines, one of which was ‘A New
Era’ and the other was ‘Open To Business,’ and they
liked both and felt like both really explained who they
were,” says Aimee Smith, Deuce marketing director.
“They feel like their whole approach to reaching businesses
is kind of this new era of banking. A new era
kind of has this feeling of old world and new world.
We felt the black-and-white photography was wellsuited
for the wording and what we were trying to say.”
“The original logo started with black and gold,
but we changed the gold to be a little more of a yellow-
gold because the company was actually going with
a metallic gold,” says Kristin Moses, creative director.
“We came up with the line ‘What Kind of Icon Are
You?’ before we started designing anything. The whole
look of this identity—and especially the website and
brochure—was based on that concept. We’re trying to
portray that [the bank] is for ‘everyday people.’”
Moses says Icon recently launched a full-scale
website at http://www.iconbanktx.com, and she is confident
the founders are pleased with the branding efforts.
“From our first meeting on, they have been very
open-minded,” Moses says. “I don’t think what they
originally had reflected what they were trying to do,
because it did look like every start-up bank in Texas.”
TO DIFFERENTIATE IS DIVINE
Clearly, differentiation is the hallmark of these successful
branding efforts, and the key components,
more often than not, are research and collaboration.
Collaboration begins with the client, but it is
equally necessary as a creative team. For instance,
as many as seven people at Archer Malmo worked
on the Merry Maids campaign. So, regardless of the
size of your firm, you need to have a firm grasp on
the brand for your branding efforts to ring true.