2009 was the year that sparked the green movement. People became more concerned about the environment, climate change became a real issue and all of a sudden “green” was the new black. The marketing & advertising industries have become wrapped up in the philosophy of “green” due to their fears of being branded as socially irresponsible & vulnerable to criticism, yet so many brands have ignored & often forgotten about the power of the “colour” green & its strong influence on brand identity.
The colour green is very multi dimensional, but also ambiguous. Different shades of green can be interpreted in very different ways. Brighter, lighter greens are more energizing & vibrant while olive greens represent the natural world.
Green is considered to be a very down-to-earth colour, representing new beginnings, growth & freshness. It is interesting to note that many pharmacies use green in their logos and advertising material. Would it be because green has a calming effect in an industry that is all about sickness & fear?
Dettol rebranded & moved beyond its “first aid kit product” association by changing its product from the browny-orangey liquid to green, as well as including green into the logo. These changes reposition the brand as innovative & approachable & also allows for brand extensions into other product categories.
Subway & Fresh Stop are examples of green brands that use green to signify freshness.
Green is also associated with the colour of money, & hence the reason why people become green with envy. Dark greens are representative of stability & affluence. A case in point is the perceptions surrounding green bottles beers vs. brown bottles.
In the realm of the financial services industry, green represents security, trust, growth & stability.
Outsurance & kulula.com can be classified as innovative, challenger brands that changed the rules of their category. Coincidentally both utilise lime green in their logos. At the time of launching these brands, lime green was not a widely used colour within their categories (& still isn’t) & therefore created significant differentiation & notice-ability. The bright green logos communicate fresh thinking & fun.
And let’s not forget the brand that changed their logo to be predominantly green & sparked worldwide debate when they dropped their name…
Colour plays a very important role in visual brand identity & clever brands use it wisely to create stand out in their categories. Green seems to be the smart choice based on its versatility & the fact that it is not as widely used as its other colour counterparts like red & blue. It is so much more than a colour that’s just for hippies & tree huggers.
Nastassja & Mia, OIL Cape TownRead more
The past two weeks have seen many comments, opinions and accusations been thrown around with regards to the Vodacom and Cell C saga. In true OIL style, we simply can’t miss out on the action, so we thought we’d put our own spin on it: What does colour really mean for a brand and why would a brand spend millions on changing it?
Introducing the psychology of colour. It’s a concept that has been around for years, but has only recently been meaningfully linked to brands by the likes of Martin Lindstrom and his sensory branding theory. Now this by no means implies that if you are red you will be bought, and if you are black you won’t (for example), but subconsciously colour has been proven to influence consumers decision making. Colors dictate an inherent personality, so will evoke certain emotions and feelings towards your brand.
“Research reveals people make a subconscious judgment about a person, environment, or product within 90 seconds of initial viewing and that between 62% and 90% of that assessment is based on color alone.”
Why colour matters.
This is a pretty amazing statistic. So it’s no wonder that when Cell C forfeited their ownership of red to become black – Vodacom pounced on the opportunity. In a very short space of time, the brand has effectively spread the word that they have gone from blue to red. They didn’t say too much, didn’t claim anything outrageous, but quite literally splashed red paint over blue, and changed overnight. This has been a great move for the brand for various reasons:
1. They are aligning themselves closely with their highly credible international parent brand, Vodaphone
2. They are simplifying their brand architecture, and as a result, making it easier for consumers to understand their product offering and service. e.g 3g
3. But most importantly to this blog, claiming red allows them to build on the brand personality that South African’s have come to love over the years.
• Red is about love and warmth – the very sentiment we have for the iconic characters like Portuguese guy in leopard print attire, the gentle but cheeky old black man, the outrageous meerkat, and of course the fanatical Jan and Elton. All of these characters have played their part in the rebranding of Vodacom, not only bringing back great memories, but also ensuring that the rebranding is not too far removed from what we know about the brand.
• Red is masculine and strong: Besides the female meerkat, all characters have been male, and sponsorships have been even been masculine – think rugby and the Stormers
• Red is about energy, excitement, and passion: We have certainly seen this in the characters splashing and fumbling about as they ‘paint’, and getting consumers in on the action in crazy ways. But we have also seen this in the brand behavior: they have managed to change every single possible logo and piece of communication quickly, quietly, and brilliantly. Is anyone else thinking this is a much better job of… ‘SWOOOOOSH’??
• Finally, red implies for leadership: While Cell C has scrambled to squash unsaid claims and make Vodacom look inferior – Vodacom can be proud of themselves for maintaining their integrity throughout all their communication.
The argument can be that Vodacom was all these things before they turned red, so was it entirely necessary to spend millions changing it to say the same thing? The answer remains, yes. The strategic reasons behind the move were invaluable. But it was also made possible because Vodaphone was not pink, purple or yellow. The reason the change has been so smooth and so easy to accept is because it fits with what they already know about the brand. The same way that if Virgin, or Mr Price had to change to green or orange, a very different message would be communicated, and the change would probably not go down as well.
The irony in all this is that Cell C once used to own the colour red, so they could just as easily have lived up to all that is positive about the property had they thought further than the end of their pointed finger. It will be interesting to know what black says about a brand personality – we will see next week!
Kathryn Aquadro, Strategist, OIL JHBRead more
After an already successful mystery speaker session in Jozi 2 weeks ago, Wednesday 13 April saw us at OIL Cape Town have our first mystery speaker for the year in the quarterly Black Gold inspiration session. It was a great event that was well attended and in true Cape Town fashion, involved plenty of wine
Our mystery speaker was a fascinating man by the name of Bruce Jack. Bruce is the vice president & chief wine-maker for Constellation, a global wine company. He is a renowned wine maker who works in the South African and International markets. He is considered one of South Africa’s maverick wine-makers amongst the likes of Adi Badenhorst & Eben Sadie – a true challenger of the status quo & a passionate visionary. He is famous (or should we say infamous) for his Flagstone wine label which carries some delicious red and white blends & varietals.
He entertained and captivated us with incredible tales of Cape Towns’ geological, social and economic history. Amongst some of his many awesome factoids where things such as Table Mountain having a natural biodiversity that is bigger than the entire British Isles and that where we were standing at this moment was in fact South America when the world was still divided into 2 super continents with the southern part known as Gondwana.
In between the stories, we tasted some of his incredible wines that included a truly unique sparkling sherry & brands such as Free Run, Dragon Tree, Writer’s Block and Music Room, all with their own unique stories about their origin.
We were educated on the wonderful world of winemaking and the incredible make up of grapes. Consider for a moment that grapes have no real purpose other than actually being a form of packaging for the seeds. Added to that, a grape has the highest concentration of flavour combinations (all you wine sniffers can rest at ease knowing you are not faking it when you scent that peppery tinge in your Cab)
He gave us insight into the wine industry as a business and the leading edge wine market of South Africa. It was a motivating and inspiring talk by a person outside of our industry yet a creative man in his own right and very astute in the ways of captivating storytelling,
The very things we strive for as communication industry folk.
Here is to inspiration… And wineRead more
If the Royal Family can make a comeback, thanks to Kate Middleton, then let’s be honest just about any brand can. The Royals had to introduce some new blood to fuel their comeback – so in the final blog of our series on how to survive in brandland - we look at what other brands have done to make their comebacks.
Old Spice: Using a character to shift perception
Old Spice went from being “a brand that my dad used” to a brand that is increasingly popular, not just with men but with women too. Their secret was to create a character (Isaiah Mustafa) who men want to be and women want to be with. Through the clever use of this character Old Spice were able to move perceptions of the brand a lot faster than had the brand been speaking for itself. Off a strong brand idea, they also created an engaging & interactive social media campaign that not only got consumers involved in the brand, but got them talking about the brand, in the language of the brand (“Now look at me, now back to you…”)
Hyundai: An offer that is impossible to resist
Just a few years ago Hyundai was considered “Jap(Korean) crap” by most South Africans. Today they are not just a World Cup sponsor but they are increasingly popular with an ever growing army of brand fans. Hyundai have built their brand over a number of years, refusing to be stereotyped as cheap. They were patient, consistently pushing brand perception forward through aspirational brand campaigns which were backed up by cars that over-delivered on the value equation in every way (price, quality, features & style). When accompanied with a ten-year guarantee, over time the Hyundai offering has become too difficult to resist.
Checkers: Seize the moment, seize the day.
Locally Checkers has always been associated with cheap – definitely not as good a Pick n Pay & certainly not as good as Woolies. Through tapping into the mindset of the day (recession paranoia) Checkers gave consumers a good reason to reappraise their brand with their ballsy pay-off line “don’t change your lifestyle, change your supermarket”. They also ensured that they lived up to this promise with their selection of cheeses, meats and wine. The company has done remarkably well and consumers can often be heard saying, I can’t believe how much checkers has changed.
Castle: going back to what made them famous
Castle found themselves increasingly irrelevant being positioned as a beer for cricket and rugby-loving white South African men. Patriotism and a bunch of guys having a good time had always been at the heart of the brand, but it was perceived as an exclusively white brand. Castle moved with the times by staying true to its essence, but made the circle bigger by tapping into a proudly South African mentality and being relevant to ALL South African men. Through an emotive portrayal of patriotism in an ever-evolving country, Castle has returned to their former position of the nation’s beer.
Vel & Mia, OIL Cape TownRead more
In this blog we look at battling brands which have lost their way. Focus and relevance are critical commandments in brand land and we look at a couple of ailing brands guilty of missing the boat. It might seem another 101 lesson in branding but market focus and relevance aren’t quite as easy as pie. Where can you find a brand that isn’t affected daily by competitor and consumer forces in and out of its category? Eskom, you say. True, but fortunately monopolies aren’t all that common.
The challenge is balance. Innovation and improvement are essential to stay alive but at what cost if they unseat a positioning? Focus acts as the compass, the guiding light, but if it’s not flexible enough to adapt to change what is the benefit?
Big brand, big category, big fall
Today’s Business Report (http://www.iol.co.za/business/business-news/metcash-will-close-51-of-its-stores-union-1.1044971) tells of plans for embattled Metcash. Known as a major player in the sizeable wholesale sector with brands Trade Centre and Metro Cash and Carry, Metcash are reported to close another 51 stores on top of the 13 closed last year. Competing with the likes of Makro, Metcash finds itself scrambling to find some stability with ideas like “hybrid” wholesale and retail space and selling off parts of the business. The plans might deal with the short term urgencies but they’re unlikely to solve Metcash’s systemic problems: relevance and focus.
Competitors like Makro and Shoprite Checkers started to eat into Metcash’s market with improving distribution, value offering and shopping experience. Metcash has continued to rely on its low price positioning, ignoring or perhaps unable to adapt to market changes. Instead of matching competitors like Shoprite, Metcash is now looking to sell part of its business to them. For Metcash, the future doesn’t look bright.
No different in sexy categories
The launch of Red Bull Mobile earlier in the year reminded me of Virgin Mobile, launched like most Virgin brands as a category challenger with greater contract flexibility and lower prices. Its poor fortune might have warned off others trying to enter the category. If a Virgin brand struggled then others would too, surely?
Sexy doesn’t always guarantee success
Despite its fervour and promise to shake up telecoms, Virgin Mobile fizzled quietly and quickly. Noticing a competitor shift to lower pricing and offer greater flexibility, Virgin should have pushed, strengthened their proposition . They didn’t. Virgin Mobile must have recognised its parity offering but didn’t act with true Virgin guts to create a point of difference and notch up the stakes like other Virgin brand extensions have.
In contrast, Red Bull Mobile seems to have a more promising future. The segmentation is more narrowly and realistically defined and the content and link to the broader Red Bull brand appears to be noticeably different. On paper the reasons to buy into Red Bull Mobile are more obvious than Virgin ever offered. Who can blame Cell C for ditching Virgin for Red Bull?
Michael LawrenceRead more