Moms Demand Action, a gun-control group backed by former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg, has launched an advertising campaign asking retail chains to refuse service to shoppers who openly carry assault rifles into their establishments. In response to retailer claims that doing that would violate their customers’ civil liberties, the ads point out that retailers have had no qualms about enforcing a ban on shirtless shoppers, eating ice cream cones and skateboarding. This series of ads targets Kroger, the largest grocery chain in the U.S. So far, nearly a half dozen national restaurants and stores have reversed course in response to Moms Demand Action advertising and publicity campaign. No word yet from Kroger.
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.
The Dutch Simavi Foundation, an organization dedicated to promoting safe drinking water, sanitation and hygiene in the poorest regions of developing countries, launched its own line of body soaps to help fund their programs. There’s no need to appeal to public’s sense of duty to get people to buy Mama Sopa soaps and bath gels, however. The playful yet sophisticated packaging of Mama Sopa rises to the level of any high-end branded product on retail shelves. Consumers will want to buy the product simply because they like it, not just because they see this as a way to make a charitable donation. Ina Meijer and Marjolijn Stappers of Con-fetti design agency created the playful hand-drawn identity of a woman with curly tall hair and big eyes. A muted color palette of apricot, taupe and seafoam blue gives the packaging a spa-like style that projects a clean, warm and relaxed look. Mama Sopa undoubtedly makes buyers feel good – doubly so knowing that they are helping to give poor regions sustainable access to safe drinking water, a problem that afflicts more than a billion people today.
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 those who fly a lot, it may seem that when you’ve seen one international airport you’ve seen them all. If you’ve disembarked in a jet-lagged daze, you wouldn’t know where you’ve landed from looking at the identical retail concessions or the runways outside. That’s not true for the new Tom Bradley International Terminal at the Los Angeles International Airport. It’s a great place to be if you have to wait around a couple of hours to board your flight. A 72-foot digital LED tower streams dreamlike sequences of cloudscapes and ocean waves and abstract graphics. Large digital LED screens respond to the movement of passengers, triggering images and sound inspired by travel destinations. The dazzling effects are so entertaining it almost makes you wish that your flight is delayed. The spectacular digital LED landscapes were created by Digital Kitchen in collaboration with MRA International, Sardi Design, Moment Factory, Daktronics, Electrosonic, Smart Monkeys, Inc. and Los Angeles World Airports.
There are some retail brands that we can spot a mile away, driving 65 miles per hour, even before we can make out the letters in the name or the logo. We recognize the brand by its signature colors. Color is a critical part of any graphic identity system. Some designers reformulate colors by tweaking the hues –making shades richer, darker, lighter or more orange, green or purple, etc. — to strengthen their proprietary link to a brand. Others simply choose “off-the-shelf” colors but display them consistently in the same combination –e.g., red, white and blue and a certain North American country. This quiz challenges you to match these color swatches with the brands they represent. Good luck! See answers after the jump.
Designers are not just ordinary consumers in the battle against suffocating the planet with litter. They are the best prevention and the last defense. Aesthetic sensitivity, retail presence, brand positioning, ease-of-use, safety, etc. are critical considerations when designing, and much more fun than thinking about the packing materials used. As important as it is to recycle and minimize waste that goes to landfill, more pressing is what gets blown away as litter. Fast-food takeout boxes probably kill more creatures than the high-fat junk food they hold. Bad typography may be annoying to read, but you never hear about seagulls strangling on overextended serifs, nor about coral reefs stomped to death by insensitive use of graphic standards. There should be life after design. Design for the afterlife. Happy Earth Month.
Is it possible to brand a thrift store stocked with donated goods and make it a look like a place where you’d want to shop? Goodwill in San Francisco is doing just that by giving its in-store signage, website and fleet of trucks a complete makeover.
A logo is widely considered the most important visual expression of retail brands, corporations and institutions. The symbol is a graphic “stand-in” for the entity, communicating its personality and values through a unique and memorable combination of colors, shapes and typography. The latest episode of PBS’s Off Book web series explores “The Art of Logo Design,” with designers Stephen Heller, Sagi Haviv of Chermayeff & Geismar, Kelli Anderson, and Gerard Huerta commenting on the role of logos today.
Korea’s largest retail chain, Emart, found that slumping sales at midday were casting a shadow over its revenues and came up with a clever way to attract lunch-time shoppers. At its 38 locations throughout Seoul, Emart installed three-dimensional QR codes on outdoor pillars located to catch the sun. Like a sundial, the shadows on the QR code moved as the sun changed position, and passersby were alerted that they could only read the QR code’s message between 12 noon and 1 pm. Consumers who scanned the code were directed to the Emart online store where they received $12 coupons for products that would be delivered to their homes. Thousands of consumers claimed Emart vouchers, and sales increased by 25% during the lunch hour.
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.
Historically house brand packaging has been sad to look at. It’s as if shoppers were being told, “You want it cheaper than the national name brands, then don’t expect us to spend any money on pretty wrappers.” Increasingly, stores are concluding that packaging that looks inferior to national brands present a missed marketing opportunity. Instead of communicating value, it gives bargain-hunting shoppers the impression that the merchandise inside is just as shoddily produced.