Laura L. Monica is Senior Vice President of Corporate Communications and External Affairs at American Water. In the video below, Laura describes the significant increase in value for her company as result of the recent new rebrand and visual identity.
VALUE OF THE BRAND:
(1) American Water, Rebranding, Repositioning, And Relaunching American Water © 2009
Russell Volckmann is an award-winning designer, producer, creative director, ad & brand & marketing strategist. For 17 years helping global agencies and companies tell their stories and make meaningful connections. Contact Russell at VÖLCKMANN (& friends) for more ways to connect.
Three of the top Rebrand.com 2009 Award Winners. As you will see, some make more sense than others.
(1) Client: Love 146
Agency: Brains on Fire
A rebrand with a story; huge improvement in naming + visual + differentiation. The strategy was based on a story of a young girl in Thailand (child #146) who maintained a shining brightness, despite all hardships she had been through: a story that continues to inspire the organization.
(2) Client: International Center for Journalists
The before & after here is striking, with the end result of a great new visual ID: natural, earthy tones + an intertwined human type treatment to reflect multiculturalism.
(3) Client: Cisco/ Webex
Agency: Cisco (internal)
Following last year's (2008) Cisco ID makeover, Cisco self-re-designed (no outside agency) its own ID for Cisco's Webex. Honestly not sure how they garnered an award for this, and an outside agency would have been a much better idea.
Now that initial the shock of the elaborate Arnell branding scheme [PDF] for Pepsi is over, it is time to consider the actual implications of the Work.
Many branding professionals (including myself) criticized Pepsi's product rebranding back in November '08. Incoming comments seemed to support disdain for the appearance of yet another Pepsi brand folly. And from the outset, the recently floated Arnell paper Breathtaking appeared preposterous and elaborate pretzel logic—further fueling the criticism.
Some people may or may not be crazy about the new bottles looking like ribbed condoms, but even if Arnell's foundations appear silly or contrived, some end results may have merit.
EVEN A BROKEN CLOCK IS RIGHT TWICE A DAY
The more we delve into this Pepsi brand work-in-progress from Arnell, the more it may warrant rethinking previous arguments against the new graphical marks—broken from a normal linear graphical identity in terms of both development method and graphical fruition.
I cannot speak to the existence of Pepsi Energy Fields or Feng Shui of the intrinsically Ying Yang -like Pepsi mark(s); or the relationship between the Earth's Magnetic Dynamics vs. gestalt of The Pepsi Globe Dynamics. Great googley moogley. But Arnell makes other interesting conclusions that may indeed be valid despite pointing to physical phenomena entirely unrelated to brand.
BACK INTO THE FUTURE
Leading the future incarnations of the product brands & marks based on self-altered trajectory? Getting ahead of the brand curve by altering the path, such as through a cosmic wormhole? Put another way, think about brands and marks in new ways; deal with modern branding challenges by reinventing when necessary. Anticipate future challenges. Nothing new here, really.
ADDRESSING TRIBAL MARKETS
Arnell's Pepsi Universe contains a near infinite variety of Pepsi product logo permutations. A few of them are below.
Brand fragments to address an increasingly splintered tribal marketplace? Multiple brand points of view for related products? Anticipating a future line of spinoff products equally as numerous? Pepsi now moves from a flat 2D approach to a three-dimensional outlook, with a three-dimensional graphical perspective to match—brand emoticons spun off from an existing brand theme. Now we're talking.
Arnell considered that there are people/ customers/ tribal markets with varying points of view, and rejected the mass-brand effort as no longer relevant. In effect, the new brand expression appears to be as much a part of the natural order as past/ current/ future natural states created by expanding universe Big Bang forces. The comparison may be nothing more than a metaphor, but is a powerful way to illustrate the natural forces of the modern marketplace trajectory. Tribal and nomadic.
CHANGE vs. STABILITY
Some brands may never change their outward identity by more than a hair every 10 years, and be just fine the way they are. Time-honored traditions, rock-solid and continuously embraced brands, equally as relevant now as they were 100 years ago.
But if change you must, then by all means have at it with as much thought, art, and science poured over the mix until it looks like a brand renaissance—and that it does the job of re-engaging audiences. Whether Pepsi accomplishes re-engagement is another matter. Whether the deeper chasms of Pepsi's brand can reconnect is another matter still.
Your thoughts? Do you like the Pepsi product ID? Does the Arnell paper change your perception of the Pepsi brand?
J = Julio Ferro/ Hey!
R = Russell Volckmann
Compared to the more "stable" Coca-Cola brand ID, Pepsi seems to react like a teenager brand: changing without any apparently strategic drive. This seems to impact on their brand integrity regarding its changing symbol: it changes over and over on every line extension.
I've been thinking in the meanwhile if this rebranding is because the cola wars is not between Coca-Cola vs. Pepsi anymore. RedBull has just launched its own soda. RedBull Cola has the original and natural ingredients and look at its branding. Taking into account the "energetic" attribute, the battle would be between Pepsi and RedBull Cola.
Back to the original topic, while Coca-Cola went back to simplicity, Pepsi did more or less the same. What happened with differentiation? What happened with the brand history? What about shelf impact?
R: Well, to paraphrase myself (if that is possible) from our previous discussion on the topic.... The new Pepsi graphical identity marks are strange and defy accepted rationale for branding: to be brief, the marks are inconsistent with the Pepsi history, and worse, inconsistent across product lines. The message in the graphical ID is therefore inconsistent, wavering, and lacks the necessary integrity that distinguishes the brand mark. Look at the Pepsi logo across the line of products in the photo below. The variation in the logo includes variances in color, variances in swish size between the product line. PLUS the prominent "0" (I assume, "zero", for zero calories) on Pepsi Light & Max is a distraction from the brand mark. The variances are the very antithesis of a strong brand mark, and can cause confusion. Is it a company logo or a product logo? Both? There is so everything wrong with this Pepsi logo picture, I am almost surprised it is legal.
What happened to brand history indeed. From all appearances, this says "forget the last new generation", forget any associated brand loyalty, forget any visual integrity.
The new Pepsi product façade also resembles the advent of a plethora of new sports drinks and vitamin waters flooding the market. Do they want to fake people into believing this is something sporty or healthy? The minimalist lowercase thin wordmark certainly implies this. Redbull and other similar energy drinks may be one reason for taking Pepsi on the new wrong turn down anti-brand highway. However, it is not enough to be simply different in brand—the change also needs to be an improvement. Before breaking away from the pack, make sure others can follow.