Id Alert 0907 Method Branding


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The July 2009 issue of our PDF newsletter featuring recent corporate brand identities.

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Id Alert 0907 Method Branding

  1. 1. New Identity Alert July 2009
  2. 2. NEW IDENTITY ALERT page 2 July 2009 Among the brand identities featured this month The same scenario is at play with Morgan Stanley are Comviva, Usiminas, Videotron, Enovos, Ally, Smith Barney. Some of the names should CenturyLink, ConAgra Foods, Symbian, Bing, and eventually disappear. Some should have even Kraft Foods, which is here for a return appearance. now. Will it become Morgan Barney, or Stanley Smith? Or will the Smith Barney name simply It is worth noting the disappearance of a number disappear and the company will once again be of major financial brands. As was noted in the Morgan Stanley? November 2008 issue (see New Identity Alert IdAlert_0811), financial brands that have been Wells Fargo has made a simpler decision. major anchors other upstart brands were Everything branded Wachovia is systematically measured against are disappearing. It was as- being converted to the Well Fargo brand. This was sumed that some names would survive while probably not as difficult a decision in this case, others would simply vanish. Not surprisingly, as since Wachovia does not have the same storied was assumed in the November issue, the Merrill history as the previous two cases. Lynch name has survived. For how long it will be around remains to be seen. It will also be worth watching the three American auto companies to see if/how they rebrand. As it is now branded, Bank of America Merrill Rumours and denials notwithstanding, clearly GM Lynch, one of two possible outcomes will, or at and Chrysler are not the companies they were a least should, come to pass. Either Bank of America year or two ago, let alone 10 years ago. Chrysler or Merrill Lynch should disappear in a year or two. rebranded, of sorts, when Daimler got rid of it two The current situation is more than a mouthful and years ago (see New Identity Alert (see IdAlert this should just be a transition phase as the _0710). Will they feel it necessary to rebrand once company’s stakeholders come to associate both more? There have been stories recently in the brands as one. The likely scenario is that it will media about GM rebranding, as well as denials simply become Bank of America, but it could from the company. GM has shed a number of their evolve into Merrill Lynch (with the flag symbol) if it brands and are running commercials saying they is deemed that the Merrill name still has sufficient are reinventing themselves. Will their corporate equity that it should live on permanently. brand identity remain unchanged? What will Ford decide to do (though currently there appears to be no rationale for them to change)? There is plenty to watch for in the coming months.
  3. 3. NEW IDENTITY ALERT An occasional survey of new corporate brand page 3 identities compiled from on-line news sources July 2009 by Method Branding. Co m v I vA This spring, Bharti Telesoft launched its new name and brand identity. The company describes Comviva as “the leading provider of integrated VAS solutions for mobile operators in emerging markets.” Owned by the Bharti Group, one of India’s large conglomerates, Cisco and a venture capital firm, the company claims Comviva’s clients number over 100 mobile OLD BR AND iDeNtit y operators in over 80 countries worldwide. Their products and services integrate into the operator’s business environment and include mobile music, mobile money and recharge, and messaging applications. Comviva claims its solutions reach one in three mobile users in Asia, Africa and the Middle East. Comment This is an example of competent, but unexciting brand identity work. The name which is meant to signify “communications is life” is good enough: a workman-like moniker for a business-to business enterprise. The wordmark is stronger than the old brand identity: simpler and with bolder type. The line of dots ending on the letter i is an expected solution – how long did it take for their designer to come up with that? And of course, who could resist another orange brand identity? In the end, this brand identity will blend in with the millions of others out there, to become virtually indistinguishable and invisible.
  4. 4. NEW IDENTITY ALERT An occasional survey of new corporate brand page 4 identities compiled from on-line news sources July 2009 by Method Branding. v I D E oT R o N With the introduction of wireless services as part of its product offerings, Videotron introduced a refreshed brand identity this spring. Videotron, a wholly owned subsidiary of Quebecor Media Inc., is one of the principal providers of cable television and internet services in the Province of Quebec, as well offering telephone and wireless phone services. OLD BR AND iDeNtit y Comment This is a good example of a refreshed brand identity. They retained the black arrow in a yellow box, and changing the rectangle to a cube makes sense in wanting to communicate the idea that they offer a complete suite of products and services, i.e., they are a multi-dimensional com- pany. The yellow is a fresher, cleaner tone. The new logotype correctly places the emphasis on the company name and not the Quebecor Media endorsement line. The typestyle for the Videotron name is virtually the same, with two notable exceptions. The serifs have been removed from the letter I, giving a cleaner look, and the accent was dropped on the English version of the logo- type. It is interesting to note that when the new brand identity was first introduced, the name and endorsement line were inside the cube, with prominence given to the tagline (Unlimited power). Videotron must have quickly realized this a completely unworkable situation, and promptly used the name outside the box as the began to implement their refreshed brand identity.
  5. 5. NEW IDENTITY ALERT An occasional survey of new corporate brand page 5 identities compiled from on-line news sources July 2009 by Method Branding. U s I m I N A s Looking to position itself for global growth and consolidate its dozens of subsidiary brands, this Brazilian steel company launched its new brand identity this spring. Usiminas is headquartered in Belo Horizonte (MG) (about 450 km or 280 miles north of Rio de Janeiro) and employs about 30,000 people in its 13 companies that work in the processing, distribution and OLD BR AND iDeNtit y commercialization of steel. Usiminas claims it has the capacity to produce 9.5 million tons of raw steel per year, more than a quarter of the total Brazilian production. Usiminas is now grouped into five business units. They are: Mining, Siderurgy, Specialized, Solutions and Services and Logistics and Distribution. Comment At first glance, this is a strong new brand identity. The U symbol, meant to represent the big pans or buckets that transport the molten iron in steel mills, is a perfect symbol for this industry. Its simplicity and strength do not make it any less elegant. The typography is clean and straightforward, though one could have hoped for something a bit less generic looking and as inspired as the new symbol. The use of black silhouette images against the bright colour palette is an effective device in creating a strong brand identity system for this company. (See next page)
  6. 6. NEW IDENTITY ALERT An occasional survey of new corporate brand page 6 identities compiled from on-line news sources July 2009 by Method Branding. However, one of the objectives of this rebranding process was to simplify the company’s brand identity. They were on a solid path until they decided to give each brand signature (the symbol and logotype) five different colour options. Where did this notion come from? Was it a directive from the company to their branding firm, without understanding what they were asking for? Or, was it a designer’s self indulgence at the expense of the client? Either way, the various colour options of the final brand identity is an unnecessary complication. It also detracts from what is one of the strongest branding tools in differentiating a brand visually – its colour. One only has to take a cursory look at strong brand identities, and how they evolve over time, to realize that the colour of the brand identity is one of the strongest brand signals. Coke cannot be Coke and not be red. IBM was not nicknamed “Big Blue” without reason. Even BP, going to Beyond Petroleum managed to retain its equity in its brand colours. Usiminas has needlessly wasted this valuable asset away. By using all these colours, ultimately, either none will be identified with the company, or after a number of years one colour will emerge as the “winner”. And either way, in a few years time, they will have to clean up the mess, (And they already do: look carefully at right. The colours are not consistent.)
  7. 7. NEW IDENTITY ALERT An occasional survey of new corporate brand page 7 identities compiled from on-line news sources July 2009 by Method Branding. s Y m b I A N This spring saw the start of opera- tions for this Open Source software organization. It was originally created by a number of technol- ogy/telecommunications companies including Nokia, Ericsson, Motorola, and NTT DOCOMO, among others. Based in London, England, the Symbian Foundation (not to be confused with Symbian Limited or Symbian Software Limited, part of the Nokia group) is a non-profit organization that says its mission is to “enable a global business ecosystem that collaborates to create the richest and most satisfying mobile user experiences.” They also state “the Symbian platform is open source software based on Symbian OS, the most widely used open operating system for mobile phones.” Comment Someone please help these people write in English! Their web site and blog are a mess of unfathomable double-speak, with words like disambiguating. Plain language to explain who they are, what they are doing – would be nice from time to time. That said, this brand identity has to be one of the most playful and inventive to have been launched in a while. Virtually every- thing from the heart symbol and logotype to the illustrations are a combination of yellow and black, all executed with great wit by (it is as- sumed) the same illustrator. They have also introduced some computer wallpaper with light blue and green backgrounds. Now if only they could communicate with the same flair they use visually.
  8. 8. NEW IDENTITY ALERT An occasional survey of new corporate brand page 8 identities compiled from on-line news sources July 2009 by Method Branding. A L LY “The world doesn’t need another bank, it needs a better bank.” With that statement, GMAC launched its GMAC Bank unit as Ally. An on-line bank, Ally offers a range of consumer banking products and services. GMAC describes itself as a bank holding company with operations in North America, South America, Europe and Asia-Pacific. They specialize in automotive finance, OLD BR AND iDeNtit y mortgage operations, insurance, commercial finance and online banking. As of March 31, 2009, the company had approximately $180 billion in assets and serviced 15 million customers around the world. Comment GMAC’s chief marketing officer was quoted as stating, “Given the recent financial market turmoil, people are looking for a safe, honest and efficient place to save and grow their money.” So why would they launch a new bank brand pronounced “a-lie.” As if that ambiguity wasn’t enough, they use a different colour for the letter a, just in case the name was misunderstood. Otherwise, the visual aspects of the new word- mark are not that bad, the purple and black a deliberate move to place some distance between any association with the GM brand. To introduce Ally to the US public, three smart and humourous television commercials are currently running on US television (though with an all purple wordmark) Too bad the Ally name and brand identity are not up to the standard of the commercials.
  9. 9. NEW IDENTITY ALERT An occasional survey of new corporate brand page 9 identities compiled from on-line news sources July 2009 by Method Branding. b I N g At the end of May, Microsoft introduced its “new Decision Engine and consumer brand, providing customers with a first step in moving beyond search to help make faster, more informed decisions.” A number of Microsoft products have been transitioned to Bing, including Bing Maps, Bing Travel, and Bing cashback, available on Bing Shopping. Microsoft claims to have improved OLD BR AND iDeNtit y many aspects of the typical (read Google) search engine, including features like autosuggest (the search engines reads what is being typed and common related searches pop up), preview, Instant Answers, better organized and faster search results. Comment There are elements of this new brand that work and others that do not. The name works well. It is short and sounds like a bell, signalling that something is ready, like the ring of a micro- wave oven: Instant information. It’s too bad that the wordmark does not measure up to the name. The extended lowercase letters do not have the same sense of wit as does the name. At least the favicon (the icon next to the URL) has an orange dot inside the b. Clearly the objective was to distance Bing from Microsoft, which invites the question, why? Finally, the changing photographs of beautiful vistas are nice, but are visual distrac- tions that do not really have value, much like the vistas and landscape images found on the walls of cheap motels.
  10. 10. NEW IDENTITY ALERT An occasional survey of new corporate brand page 10 identities compiled from on-line news sources July 2009 by Method Branding. K R A fT f o o D s On February 17, Kraft launched its new brand identity with a new “purpose” to “Make Today Delicious” (see New Identity Alert IdAlert_0902). They have since had a change of heart and are now using a new version of their (old) brand identity. The old(er) Kraft brand mark is not going away; apparently there is still the intent to keep using it on consumer-facing OLD BR AND iDeNtit y OLDeR BR AND iDeNtit y, SORt OF packaging. Comment Is today even more delicious? Does this fall in the New and Improved category? Well, begrudgingly, this is an improvement over the brand identity that was launched way back in February. But improving mediocrity is not some- thing to compliment, especially when the new result is not significantly better. They have traded one smile for another, the tagline typography and colouring is better, and the burst of colour and shapes is an improvement. The different way the Kraft Foods type is treated? Well, yes, it’s better, but it’s flawed to begin with. This still reeks of an amateurish attempt at branding. Hanging over this is the old(er) Kraft brand mark which has nothing to do with the new corporate identities. Until the company comes to grip with this issue, they can change corporate brand identities every four months forever and still noting will have changed.
  11. 11. NEW IDENTITY ALERT An occasional survey of new corporate brand page 11 identities compiled from on-line news sources July 2009 by Method Branding. Co N A g R A f o o D s The company behind brands such as Hunt’s tomatoes, Pam, Orville Redenbacher’s popcorn, Chef Boyardee, Hebrew National, Healthy Choice and Fleischmann’s unveiled its new corporate brand identity last month. ConAgra Foods, based in Omaha, Nebraska, stated that the new brand identity was created as a result of research showing a lack of OLD BR AND iDeNtit y association between ConAgra Foods and its brands. In 2008 the company sold its trading operation, abandoning the commodity trading, fertilizer and ethanol businesses. Its business is now focused on branded packaged food and food sold to restaurants and other manufacturers. Comment This is a pleasant new brand identity. It is friendlier, less corporate than the previous version. The new symbol is principally responsible for this. The happy face plate with the spoon monocle is simple and clever and set the right tone for the brand identity. The sans serif upper and lowercase lettering style also strikes the right balance in achieving a corporate look that is still warm and approachable. However, the success or failure of the new brand identity will not rest on its look but where, and how, it is applied. If the lack of association of ConAgra with its brand was the factor that led the company to rebrand – then the presence of the new brand identity on its brand advertising (as part of the sign-off at the end) and how it will appear on the packaging of its brands – will determine its success or failure. Anything else will not have a significant impact on linking the corporate and product brands.
  12. 12. NEW IDENTITY ALERT An occasional survey of new corporate brand page 12 identities compiled from on-line news sources July 2009 by Method Branding. PA C K A R D b E L L One of the old brands initially linked to the introduction of home computing devices has been rebranded and was launched this spring. Packard Bell actually first appeared in 1926. The new brand identity is described as more than a technology brand, than a lifestyle brand: “The Packard Bell brand is where simplicity, trends and technology meets (sic) to create fashionably OLD BR AND iDeNtit y new ways of living and ultra smart forms for working. Across all products and segments, Packard Bell sets the standard for cool, design- driven technology.” Since 2008, Packard Bell has part of Taiwan-based Acer Inc. and they now make up the third-largest PC company in the world. Comment “Moving from Packard Bell to ‘PB’: That’s so cool!!” Umm, no. Yes, the new brand identity is definitely an improvement over the previous one. By setting it at an angle, the initial letters symbol has a fair amount of energy, and is well rendered. The lettering style of the logotype is legible and more appealing than the old logotype. The imagery on their web site also conveys a real sense of fun and vitality. But, the stated intent of the new brand identity to move from Packard Bell to PB, does not make sense. Why reinvigorate the brand to then kill it? Surely, a simpler alternative would have been to rebrand any Packard Bell product worth salvaging as Acer, and that would have been easier and probably much cheaper. If they wish to retain the brand equity of this 83 year-old brand, then the sensible strategy is to maintain the name. No scenarios come to mind that justify going to generic initials.
  13. 13. NEW IDENTITY ALERT An occasional survey of new corporate brand page 13 identities compiled from on-line news sources July 2009 by Method Branding. E N ov o s , C R E o s Three companies, SOTEG, Cegedel, and Saar Ferngas came together in a merger this spring and became Enovos. The company is now an energy company offering natural gas and electricity to business, industrial and residential customers in Luxemburg, Belgium, France, Germany and Austria. The company will be broken into three parts: a holding company, OLD BR AND iDeNtit y Enovos International, and two operational compa- nies – Enovos, responsible for production and acquisition, and Creos, responsible for the trans- portation and distribution networks (and one assumes the sale). This was done in compliance with European Union regulations. Enovos is based in Luxemburg. Comment Here’s one instance where, as the saying goes, “the whole is the greater than the sum of its parts.” Nothing earth-shattering here, but the Enovos symbol certainly suggest a sun, its multi-part design does suggest the coming togeth- er of several parts and the lettering style is appro- priately contemporary and friendly. The orange gradient is warm, consistent with the statement on the web site home page, “Caring about tomorrow.” Creos is also credibly executed, and better than any of its predecessors. The symbol suggests electricity, and here too, the lettering is contempo- rary and friendly. EU regulations notwithstanding, one wonders why the two new brand identities are so different. If one holding company can own both parts, would it not make sense to have Enovos and Creos visually related? Certainly the names are. You know, “the whole is greater than …”
  14. 14. NEW IDENTITY ALERT An occasional survey of new corporate brand page 14 identities compiled from on-line news sources July 2009 by Method Branding. C E N T U R Y L I N K The merger of CenturyTel with Embarq is now complete, and they have begun operating under the new brand name and identity unveiled a month ago: CenturyLink. CenturyLink describes itself as the fourth largest local exchange telephone company in United States, based on access lines, with operations in 33 states. It offers products and services such as OLD BR AND iDeNtit y land line telephone services, internet, satellite television, and home security services. Comment Does the symbol look familiar? If it doesn’t, flip back to the previous page. In this case, the symbol doesn’t quite hold together as well. While the Enovos symbol could be seen as a sun, what does it symbolize here? The choice of colours for the specific wedges is also a bit odd. There are two dark green wedges at the East and West points of the circle, but the North and South dark wedges create a backwards angle. In a nod to Embarq, they have retained that brand identity’s colours, and the new logotype is an improvement and the emphasis on Link is appropriate in this case. It is also unusual, typically the emphasis is on the first word (though Link on its own would have been a much stronger brand name, leaving aside any issues around trademarking and URL registration). Realistically, they couldn’t –probably shouldn’t – have dropped Century from their name. And yet, they were on the verge of some- thing truly interesting.
  15. 15. NEW IDENTITY ALERT An occasional survey of new corporate brand page 15 identities compiled from on-line news sources July 2009 by Method Branding. WA LT E R E N E R g Y This Tampa, Florida based company announced this spring that it had changed its name to Walter Energy. The company states its revenues at approximately $1.2 billion and describes itself as “a leading producer and exporter of premium U.S. metallurgical coal for the global steel industry and also produces steam coal and industrial coal, metallurgical coke and coal OLD BR AND iDeNtit y bed methane gas.” Walter Energy employs over 2,000 people. The company also announced that two subsidiaries would change their names to Walter Minerals and Walter Coke, respectively. Comment The company described the modifica- tion of its name as a better reflection of its sole focus on natural resources and energy. That is a reasonable explanation of why they changed their name. The new brand identity is not, however, an improvement over the old one. While dropping Inc. from the logotype was the proper thing to do, the block lettering is not an improvement over the upper and lowercase letter of the old logotype. The new symbol is not an improvement over the old one; it’s not terrible, but so much more was possible. The symbol could have been used for any number of types of companies. They did retain the equity of the colours, which on balance was a good thing. Overall, though, other than the shift in name, there is nothing here that suggests this is a company focussed on energy.
  16. 16. NEW IDENTITY ALERT An occasional survey of new corporate brand page 16 identities compiled from on-line news sources July 2009 by Method Branding. Please contact us if you have any comments about AboUT mEThoD bRANDINg the corporate brand identities featured in this A design firm with extensive experience, we issue, or if you wish to alert us to new identities work with a wide variety of clients including that have been just launched or are about to be corporations, government agencies, not-for-profit launched. We also welcome receiving the names organizations, start-up companies and others. and e-mail addresses of anyone you think would be interested in receiving this newsletter. We work collaboratively with other communication agencies and firms, and collaboratively with our And if you have a branding challenge, we would clients, to create compelling solutions. The brands of course be pleased to meet you and discuss how and branded communications (brochures, annual your brand can be effectively leveraged to its reports, etc.) we create endure and build value. maximum potential. Bringing together the science and art of branding, our solutions are engineered to elicit the desired responses from stakeholders, building maximum brand value for our clients. Philip Unger President and Creative Director 366 Adelaide Street W. Suite 207 Toronto, Ontario Canada M5V 1R9 416.597.1114 tel 416.596.0807 fax Thank you to Jim Hynes for his proofreading Note: The brand identities and trademarks in this and wise counsel. document are the property of their respective owners. They are used here solely for information purposes. © Method Branding, 2009