Newell Rubbermaid’s new Design Center in Kalamazoo, Michigan, marks a monumental shift in the company’s design thinking and practices. This consolidation of design functions in a single location addresses how design in the 21st century has become a team activity that pulls in disciplines beyond design.
In 2012, after Newell Rubbermaid adopted its Growth Game Plan strategy focused on four winning capabilities, including design and R&D, it brought in acclaimed designer Chuck Jones as its first Chief Design and Research & Development Officer to make the company more agile and responsive to consumers through design. Jones’ reputation preceded him, having successfully built global design and development teams that boosted sales and won awards for innovation at companies including Whirlpool and Xerox. Here, Jones talks about how Newell Rubbermaid is creating a brand-and-innovation-led company that is famous for design and product performance. Read More »
Naming is a discipline that strikes many as part voodoo, part marketing strategy, and totally mysterious. We suspect it was easier a century or so ago when founders named the brand after themselves — e.g., Ford (Henry Ford) and Wells Fargo (Henry Wells and William Fargo) – or simply described what they made – e.g., International Business Machines (IBM). Now, it is not so easy, and companies usually turn to professional naming firms to come up with effective memorable brand names that will resonate with consumers. On top of that, they have to make sure the name can be trademarked, pronounced easily, have positive connotations around the globe, and stand out on a retail shelf, on a website and on its own. Here are some tips from David Placek, founder and president of Lexicon Branding, the firm that developed the familiar names you see below.
1. A Brief for the Development of a Name Is Different
Than a Brief for an Advertising Campaign.
(1) A naming brief makes sure that distinctiveness is a primary goal and that risk will be rewarded.
(2) A naming brief answers this fundamental question: How can the name help this new brand to become a winner?
(3) A naming brief defines a specific role for the name rather than the product itself, messaging or design.
(4) A naming brief tells the story of the brand so that the brand name becomes an essential part of the story — better yet, the title.
At first glance, the packaging for Coven, a new hand-crafted vodka made by Arbutus Distillery in Nanaimo on tiny Vancouver Island in Canada, looks deceptively traditional, fitting right in on retail shelves with the products of large spirit producers. But darkness changes everything.
Asked to develop a product name, brand personality and package design for Arbutus Distillery’s inaugural product, Nanaimo-based agency, Hired Guns Creative, sought to take consumers into the deeper realm of the spirit world. Hired Guns chose the name “Coven” for the Arbutus vodka brand, not only because it was a play on the idea of spirits, but because it suggested gatherings, mystery and a hint of sexual allure. From a design perspective, creative director Richard Hatter also found Coven “a very clean, balanced word that is easy to work with on a graphic level. And, of course, there are the other obvious criteria; it was easy to spell, say, pronounce, read from a distance, and it was available to trademark.”
To bring credibility to this new product in stores, Hired Guns used several traditional indicators of quality: hand-dipped wax, die-cut label, foil and embossing details, and lots of whitespace. What isn’t seen in daylight, however, is a gathering of witches and night creatures made visible through a glow-in-the-dark phosphorescent coating overprinted on the bottle. The text on the back label adds to the haunting impression: “Shrouded in the mist of the West Coast, a timeless rite enchants those who seek a greater spirit. Initiation requires strict dedication to the craft. There is power in numbers, so gather together because when the lights fade, the ritual begins. We’ve been waiting for you.” Drink up and be merry; the spirits are alive.
For Coke Zero’s joint promotion of the new James Bond film “Skyfall,” Belgian ad agency Duval Guillaume Modern set up an elaborate stunt in the Antwerp central train station. It began when unsuspecting commuters walked up to a Coke vending machine, which displayed a promotional offer that came with a hitch. They could win two free tickets to a special screening of “Skyfall,” if they could get to the vending machine on Platform Six within 70 seconds.
Brand consultant Alina Wheeler has developed a phased process for researching, clarifying and implementing a brand strategy. A reminder that building a strong brand demands more than a logo, Wheeler outlines a disciplined approach that has been used with success by several major companies. Her book Designing Brand Identity: Essential Guide for the Whole Branding Team (John Wiley & Sons, third edition) distills this process into five easy-to-follow steps. It’s worthwhile advice. Following this process will not guarantee branding success, but ignoring it will inevitably lead to a muddled identity program that confuses consumers and employees alike.
Motel 6 chose an interesting way to tell consumers that they’ve been around for a half century. They “time traveled” both the station wagon and the family of four inside through the decades by morphing them into the latest styles. For those who are baffled about how Motel 6 got its name, here’s the story. The motel chain was founded in 1962 by two building contractors in Santa Barbara, California, who figured out how to offer bargain rates by calculating out the cost of land, construction and ongoing maintenance. By cutting out any frills, they decided they could offer rooms at $6 a night and still make a profit – hence, the name Motel 6. Of course, inflation and other factors have caused room rates to go up multifold over the past 50 years, but relative to other hotels, it is still considered affordable to penny-pinching families.
This commercial was made by Dallas ad agency, The Richards Group, which has been running Motel 6 ad campaigns since the 1980s. They were the ones who came up with Motel 6’s famous tagline “We’ll leave the light on for you.” The Richards Group teamed with the production firm King and Country (K&C), which made the 30-second spot from start to finish – production, direction, editorial, animation and VFX – completely inhouse. Rick Gledhill directed for K&C.
When El Paso Chile Co. commissioned Charles S. Anderson Design in Minneapolis to create a new packaging system for its retail salsa and marinade lines, it wanted to make sure that consumers grasped the fact that its products were authentic Tex-Mex, not wannabe imitations made in places like Cincinnati or Brooklyn. A border town in far west Texas, El Paso is so close to Juarez in Mexico that the two cities are sometimes considered one metro area. El Paso Chile Co. knows its salsas and wanted the packaging to capture that in look and feel.
Morrisons, one of the largest supermarket chains in the UK, recently unveiled its rebranded entry-level “value” line, now bearing the name “M Savers.” The work was done by brand design agency Coley Porter Bell as part of a strategic assessment aimed at transforming Morrisons’ own label into a more coherent brand. With some 17,000 products and their variants in Morrisons’ own brand, positioning different tiers and categories of products was a daunting task.
Morrisons’ entry-level value line presented its own unique challenges. Stephen Bell, creative director at Coley Porter Bell, said that the term “value” had a negative meaning to some consumers. “Value ranges tend to be somewhat utilitarian, using template designs and basic corporate colors. Research shows that consumers are often ashamed to be seen with them. But with the economy stalled for the foreseeable future, value ranges will be competing on more than just price. We wondered why shouldn’t entry-level products have some charm and engagement?”
Here’s a novel way to get consumers to test out your product. In March, Nokia announced a competition to shoot a short film entirely with a Nokia N8 mobile phone. It invited entrants to send in a story pitch and offered a $5,000 filming budget and two Nokia N8s to eight finalists.
“Splitscreen: A Love Story,” directed by UK-based JW Griffiths, won the first place award of $10,000.
How do you convince consumers that your tequila is authentically Mexican and not an Americanized version of what the South of the Border drink is all about? Skip the piñatas, the sombreros and all the hokey souvenir-type imagery for starters.
For the reintroduction of its product in the United States after an absence of several years, Espolon Tequila wrapped its brand in the rich traditions, history, festivities and artistic style of the Mexican culture. Spearheaded by Landor, the rebranding program was inspired by the engravings of renowned 19th century artist Jose Guadalupe Posada, whose skeleton people are best associated with the Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) celebrations. Finely drawn illustrations by Steven Noble pay homage to Posada’s style and incorporate iconography reflecting the legends and lore of Mexico.