What You Can Learn From MARS Rebranding

When you hear the name MARS Incorporated, you probably think of Skittles, M&Ms, and the other popular candies this company produces. Unless you follow their brand closely, you probably do not consider petcare items like Pedigree or their leading food items, specifically UNCLE BEN’S, which is a billion dollar brand.

In an attempt to expand their business past the confectionary sector and bring attention to their other successful brands, MARS has recently updated their brand with a new company logo and a mission statement that will help establish the brand as something more than just delicious chocolate.

With these changes, MARS also worked to differentiate between their many business areas. The MARS brand now includes MARS Food, MARS Petcare, MARS Wrigley Confectionery, and MARS Edge. Unified through the MARS logo, which is now sleek and modernized, these segmented areas help highlight the company’s business interests while reminding their consumers that they offer more than candy.

With their differentiated business areas, modernized logo, and restructured mission statement, MARS is able to take their brand in a new, and ultimately more profitable, direction. If you think your company might need a similar update, here are a few things you can learn from the MARS rebranding:

Determine your brand’s direction and purpose

Rebranding is more than just marketing your business or giving it a new look or feel. When you rebrand, you are letting the world know what your company values, as well as the direction in which your company is heading. As such, it is vital for you to establish a company mission statement that will show the purpose of your company.

When you look at MARS and its rebranding efforts, you will notice that all of their changes support the new direction the company has taken. They are no longer focused on just pushing their candy and confectionery brands, and they want consumers to understand that they have much more to offer.

Is your company heading in a new direction? If so, what do you want your consumers to know about your brand? Are you heading in a new direction? Use this information to determine a course of action starting with an updated mission statement.

Craft a mission statement

Before you start rebranding your company, sit down with your team and ask yourself if the purpose or the mission of your company has changed. If so, come up with a mission statement to reflect this change and show your consumers the new direction your brand is going to take.

Even if you are not making changes to the purpose of your brand, you still need to have a mission statement. If your target audience is confused about what your brand does or of its purpose, a clear mission statement can help you resonate with them more effectively.

Consider the mission statement MARS recently created for its rebranding. Its new mission statement — “The world we want tomorrow starts with how we do business today” — emphasizes that MARS is a brand that is not only looking ahead to the future, but also one that is working toward making that future brighter.

What does your existing mission statement say about your brand? If you cannot answer that question, or the answer to that question is different than what you would like for it to say, then you need to craft a new mission statement.

Support your mission statement

Every change that MARS made supports the fulfillment of their mission statement.

The company’s vice president of corporate affairs, strategic initiatives and sustainability, Andy Pharaoh, notes how young consumers- the future of the company’s success — want businesses to “stand up for things.” This new mission statement lets consumers know that MARS cares about the future it is helping to create. Their new logo features colors that are supposed to represent hope, optimism, and sustainability, which directly supports the company’s purpose, as well. Even the way they realigned their brand architecture supports the growth that they are aiming for in the future.

Whether you need to update your brand strategy because it is outdated and no longer relevant, or you want to emphasize a new purpose for your company, you should make sure that every single change you make helps support your mission statement.

Is the latest Uber rebranding enough?

If you follow branding trends, you undoubtedly heard about the most recent Uber rebranding. They’ve replaced 2016’s odd, blue circuit board pattern with a simple, clean font, and in doing so, invited the opinion of every branding professional, designer, and enthusiast.
According to Fast Company, one of Wolff Olins’ primary goals was legibility. The old logo had caused problems both being viewed at higher rates of speed and distance and across languages. They wanted something clear and visible. They developed a typeface for the brand with this in mind. It’s worth reading into the thought that went into its creation with respect for these points.
But it’s difficult to see this rebrand as separate from the controversy the company is already well-known for. From “Boober” to spying on Beyoncè, to Trump ties, to sexual harassment, to a Google lawsuit, to Travis Kalanick, Uber has a significant reputation problem.
The question is, is yet another Uber rebranding—this rebranding—enough to help Uber move past it’s short, dramatic life? Maybe.

It’s a strategy.

It may appear like simply a bid to shed an old persona when the old one no longer serves, but there is a method to it.

“We tried to kick out all the micro-moments where trust was eroded,” says Forest Young, Creative Director at Wolff Olins, the agency who did the rebrand. This meant every moment where a rider couldn’t reconcile the old, atomic logo with the vehicle in front of them had to go. They had to re-create trust with customers in a tangible way, not from a high tower.

It’s not immune to criticism.

Our own creative team had mixed reactions. Some felt the changes were too safe and even safe to the point of disingenuous.  “The logo seems to get safer as their reputation gets worse”, one person said. “Design saves, but not if your vision and purpose are polluted by your actions” was another.  Some felt exasperation over the frequency leading to customer confusion, and some were disappointed they abandoned the old design. At the end of the day, it’s indisputably well-done. But whether or not it changes minds or eases suspicion is hard to predict.
Uber has an uphill challenge to undo the damage to their reputation. This rebrand may represent a step in that direction. It’s certainly clearer, less confusing, and more visible. But at the same time, rebranding too frequently may raise questions of credibility and instability.

7 Branding Trends You Need to Know

If you’re looking at rebranding in the near future, you need to know about 2018-19’s hottest branding trends. We’ve put together some of our favorites.

 

Responsive Logos

Responsive design, which detects the user’s screen size and optimizes display based on screen size, is a decade old. For a familiar reference point, Apple announced the iPhone in 2007. As touchscreens and tablets made their way into more and more homes, it was critical for the user to be able to actually see what was on their screen. Those of you who were carrying a BlackBerry before then probably remember squinting at a full-sized web page on a grainy screen.

Responsive design has been industry standard for quite a while. Logos, meanwhile, have not. But in 2018, brands like Coca-Cola, Chanel, Disney, and Heineken have created a suite of modern, simplified versions of their logo. Mobile optimization has become more and more critical to SEO, propelling this branding trend to the top of our list. 

 

Animated Logos

Like responsive design, animated logos have been around for a while. Recently they’ve been popping up more and more. Animated logos are memorable and an effective way to tell a brand’s story, which can have a positive impact on conversion rate. You can see examples done by or for Shazam, Spotify, and this gorgeous tribute to artist and LGBT activist Gilbert Baker.  

 

The Return of Serif Fonts

Sans serif fonts have been in the backseat for the last few years. Designers cited readability and a preference for flat design as reasons. Serif fonts are on their way back, thanks to improved screen resolution, larger phones, and the new options available through Google Web Fonts.

 

Fundamental Geometric Shapes

Deceptively simple geometric shapes are in. 2018-19 will see geometric overlays used to create surprising possibilities for brands looking for a clean, modern look. Brands like thirdlove, zendesk, and Rush Talent all make use of this branding trend.

 

Fun!

Colorful logos with funny elements, animation, and custom illustrations are a big trend this year. Brands want to send a positive message to their customers, and there’s nothing more positive than fun. The bold colors and geometric patterns of the 80s and 90s transport the customer back to fun, Fast Times vibes. Check out the bright, brash branding used by Wing Wing, Otherland, ban.do, or, you know, that iconic Solo Jazz cup from the 80s.

 

Overlaps

With the duotone/double exposure trend rising, overlapping elements are super-hot in logo design this year. Ranging from slightly hallucinogenic shift logos to simple overlaps, we can expect to see more of this branding trend in 2019. 

Grid-Based Logos

Grids have the power to portray logic, theory, control, and perfection. In a sense, it’s a trend that’s never ended—only come and gone in waves. Based on designs we’ve seen of late, we can expect a healthy serving of very obvious grids in logo design this year. Check out Uber and Bing for examples of grid-based logos. 

What’s been catching your eye lately? Let us know in the comments!

Our Favorite Web Trends of 2018 (so far)

Web trends are an ever-shifting landscape, and it can be hard to keep up. We’ve rounded up some of our favorite trends so far for 2018.

 

Bright Colors

In years past, designers stuck with web-safe colors. But it’s 2018 now (we’re a year away from flying cars, right?) and screens today can handle reproducing vibrant colors. This is great news for brands who really want to stand out and stop playing it safe, and attract and delight site visitors using rich, vibrant color.

Motion & Animation

Like color, you’ve probably noticed a more… animated experience on the web in 2018. Web trends are moving away from static-image logos toward animation, which can take drudgeries like loading, scrolling, and navigation way more fun. More fun means more time on your site, so much so that this could help improve bounce rate.

 

Depth & Shadow

They’re back! Obviously, shadows are nothing new in web design—they’ve been a staple used to create depth and texture for years. But in 2018, we’re seeing shadow used for emphasis—information or different areas on your site. They’re also added to buttons or elements to indicate they’re clickable. This is a departure from the flat design trend we’ve seen so much of in recent years.

 

Mobile First

It’s been trending this way for a while, but mobile finally overtook web in 2018. This is hugely important to e-commerce, as the majority of transactions now take place on a mobile device. Plus, this is part of Google’s algorithm now. Optimize for mobile, and you’ll be rewarded with improved ranking—not to mention an improvement in bounce rates. 2018 saw a decrease from 52% to 47% and it’s expected to keep dropping. Mobile is no longer the weird “big site, small screen” experience where users get so frustrated they log out until they can get to a “real computer”.

 

Particle Background

…Sure, but what is a particle background? Put simply, it’s a visual element that lives in the background of your site (see some examples here and here). It’s a good alternative to video, as it’s lighter in code and allows background movement. It’s an eye-catching, attractive, memorable way to enhance your site.

Are you using any of these web trends on your own site? If you are, we’d love to hear more about it, and if not, let us help!

IHoP Tried It (Rebranding, That Is)

Maybe you heard about the IHoP rebrand this past week. Maybe you were one of the people waiting to see what exactly the “b” stood for. Maybe you were one of the people who had a strong opinion when they finally revealed that the “b” was for… burgers.

IHoP might have been due for a rebrand, but this wasn’t the one people were expecting.

 

So what exactly happened in the IHoP rebrand?

We have “rebrand” in quotation marks because it’s not truly a rebrand—it’s a marketing stunt. Without announcing the why, IHoP announced they were making a name change.

The internet guessed brunch, bacon, breakfast— all things you might expect from the International House of Pancakes. They ran polls. They replaced all “p”s with “b”s. Noted frozen pizza maker DiGiorno responded. Business and marketing publications freaked out. We guessed during our morning team meeting (our content marketing director was really, really banking on “Bloody Mary”).

 

And so when they revealed that the “b” stood for “burgers”, many people felt downright betrayed for all sorts of reasons.

 

Some feared losing pancakes entirely.

 

Some came to their defense.

 

Some felt they needed to step up their emoji game.

 

And within a few days, it became clear that, in fact, IHoP was just trolling a bit. IHob would not be a permanent change.

But damn, are you going to remember they have burgers now!

So while we wouldn’t necessarily recommend actually carrying off a stunt like this, there are a few lessons we can take away from the IHoP rebrand.

 

A name change is going to make people feel feelings.

Even if you haven’t thought about IHoP in years, there’s a good chance you had a bit of an “excuse me?” reaction to this campaign. In fact, an audience can be pretty predictably divided between those who fully and completely embrace change and those who absolutely recoil from it. Either way, people take notice.

When and if your company does decide to rebrand, be prepared for the fact that yes, you’re going to alienate some of your audience. And you know what? That’s actually fine. You don’t have to be abrasive, but eliminating folks who aren’t going to be raving fans is actually very good for business.

If your branding looks like a well-known tampon… try again.

In this particular case, of course, the fact that that “ob” on the end looked an awful lot like a well-known applicator-less tampon only helped whip armchair designers and Twitter pundits into a frenzy.

But for your brand? You need as many honest human eyes on your new branding to make sure you don’t go to market with a logo that can’t be separated from another totally unrelated product.

Relief and familiarity can feel really good.

When it was all said and done, the IHoP rebrand probably left some people quietly rejoicing that something they hadn’t really thought about in a long time wasn’t actually at risk of being ripped from them. And that feeling will most likely translate to increased visibility and revenue.

For your brand, this can mean really emphasizing what’s NOT changing when you rebrand, reassuring your customer base that the things they love are still there and better than ever. You’re not betraying them with a total 180 degree change. It could also translate to using imagery, fonts, and other elements that SUGGEST familiarity—part of the reason vintage photography, fonts, and logos resonate is that they suggest an old comfort or familiarity. And trust.

We’ll be watching to see what the longer-term outcomes of IHoP’s rebrand might be, but in the meantime, what do you think? Let us know in the comments.

 

What is Kanye Doing?

Will Kanye West’s brand survive a dramatic message shift?

We’ve talked about branding lessons we can learn from rappers in the past. This seems like the time to talk about messaging and Kanye West’s brand. Specifically, Kanye West’s brand as an example of what can happen on a large scale when your brand goes off-message.

If you don’t follow Kanye’s Twitter, there’s a good chance your life’s a little less stressful than the 28 million who do. Let’s go over the trouble with Kanye West’s brand messaging.

 

Establishing Brand Expectations

West’s core audience had come to expect a message of innovation, creativity, wealth, and West using his platform to boldly right social wrongs. His musical catalog evolved from honest, eager, and relatably imperfect to larger than life.

A moment frequently referenced is the 2005  Hurricane Katrina telethon where, next to a clearly flabbergasted Mike Meyers, West stated “George Bush doesn’t care about black people.” Through this and through his song lyrics, fans reasonably concluded West’s politics were in line with their own.

 

Conflicting Brand Messaging

But since the 2016, election, things changed. Following a mental health event, West seemed to publicly support Donald Trump, even meeting with him at Trump Tower. West then mostly disappeared from social media, and fans cautiously hoped his Trump praise would die off has his health improved.

Then in April 2018 came what seemed like verification that, in fact, West’s political alignment was far more conservative than expected. Among other tweets, “I love the way Candace Owens thinks” and one stating he and Trump share a “dragon energy” caused fans to recoil in horror. Meanwhile, his core audience began to shift from liberal to conservative.

 

Is This… Strategy?

For some, Kanye West’s brand as an innovative genius is protected by conspiracy theories. For others, there’s speculation that this reversal has killed West’s brand.

And for still others, there’s an argument that West knows exactly what he’s doing—and there might be an example to follow here. After all, his still quite young, Adidas-backed Yeezy brand unexpectedly experienced a boost immediately following this radical shift. He is and has always been an expert force in creating hype on social media so… maybe?

What remains unclear is whether this is all part of a larger strategy, and if so… what is it? And by the time we know, will it matter?

 

Ultimately, what’s even more frustrating to an audience that truly loves you and your brand (and has overlooked past behavior) is being completely and utterly confused by your message. They’re unsure if they approve or disapprove of your message. If you’re a megastar with a decade and a half’s worth of building a loyal following, people want to give you the benefit of the doubt. If you’re brand new? Chrissy Teigen said it best: “kanyeeeeeeeeeeeeee iljeflaejsf’pifgaiw’rgjwregfreogjwrpogjjr”.

 

Branding in 2018: What will the New Year bring?

IF YOU’VE BEEN THINKING ABOUT BRANDING, 2018 OFFERS A FRESH CHANCE TO BE DIFFERENT.

Countdowns, champagne, Auld Lang Syne… New Years is only a month away.
And that means it’s time to dust off the crystal ball and guess at what that mysterious concept—“branding in 2018”—might actually look like.

These last few weeks leading up to New Year’s Eve are always a time of reflection and resolution—a time to reflect on what was, both good and bad, and a time to decide to make change.

If you’re like most people, your New Year’s resolutions will be personal in nature.
Lose weight. Make more money. Finally take that dream trip.

Some make business resolutions. Make more money. Write that book. Hire a star employee. (Or fire a bad one.)

However, these aren’t resolutions at all. These are goals. A resolution is a decision to do or not do something—and a goal doesn’t become reality simply by making the decision that you want it.

 

WHAT YOU SHOULD REALLY RESOLVE TO DO NEXT YEAR

This isn’t a groundbreaking observation. Anyone who has successfully realized a goal knows it takes dedication and focus, not simply desire.

But what do you focus on if you want to make more money in your business? What can you dedicate yourself to if you want to move the needle?

Instead of focusing on trends, consider remaking your branding. In 2018, it will be the special sauce that makes you tastier than your competitors.

At BRANDING FOR THE PEOPLE, we believe your should focus on your brand story — one that connects you with your customers on an emotional level. Why? Because 90% of the reason customers buy from you is based on emotion. Your brand is the most powerful way to tap into that emotional connection.

In other words, this year, now is a great time to make another kind of resolution… Resolve to create your brand story.

 

WHY THAT MAY BE A CHALLENGE—BUT A REWARDING ONE

Most resolutions fail because people are scared to accomplish them. It’s not that they can’t—it’s that they’re terrified of what it would mean to accomplish them.

Plus, it takes hard work, sacrifice and a willingness to be different. And rebranding to improve your customer experience is definitely a left-of-center idea.

People get nervous about being different. But that’s what it takes to have a business and a life of significance.

It’s easy to be comfortable, have a job, and simply exist.

It’s not as easy to run a successful business. And more difficult still to run one that stands out.

So it’s not a surprise, really, that most people are scared to make a splash. In a sense, most of us were schooled to avoid being noticed. To keep from being fascinating.

In school we’re taught to color within the lines. Stand in line. Raise your hand and wait your turn. Behavior that deviated from the norm resulted in detention.

 

BRANDING IN 2018: DON’T CHASE TRENDS—RESOLVE TO STAND OUT

The problem with blending in is that business doesn’t work like that.

In today’s world—the one with distracted clients, bigger competitors, and people who are willing to work for (much) less than you—being the same is a deeply flawed strategy. You can’t win by being invisible.

You win by making sure that buyers remember who you are, and then by making extra sure they remember how great it is to work with you.

In other words, by focusing on your brand promise, then doing whatever it takes to make sure your customer experience exceeds it.

 

TAKEAWAY

Branding is about creating a desired perception, and perception is the reality in your customers minds. To create more customers you need more attention, but the attention you drive via your marketing efforts needs land upon a well defined, “different” brand. Then when you’ve made the sale, your customer experience needs to let buyers know what all the hype was about.

So this year, don’t make a resolution to make more money, gain more customers or sell more products. Don’t resolve to add the newest tool, or finally get serious about that shiny social site.

Make your resolution to be different—and then resolve to actually get that way.

 

2016: For Better, For Worse

 

Five Key 2016 Branding Highlights:

The image of a rollercoaster might come to mind when we reflect on 2016. Whatever the analogy, 2016 has delivered a wallop. We lost Prince, John Glenn, and Florence Henderson. We discovered a gene linked to ALS. North Korea tested an H-bomb. The Cubs won the World Series. Many of us ran from Facebook after the election. The global tiger population increased for the first time in 100 years. For a year that revealed itself to be amazing and strange, good and bad, what are the 2016 branding highlights?

A small business doesn’t jump from startup brand to global empire in a single leap, so the World Branding Awards for 2016 don’t really help us figure out what we should implement and what we should avoid. However, maybe this article can help provide a few ideas, because it’s written exactly for the large swath of people playing in the $1 to 70 million range of business.


Branding is multifaceted. It uses visual and verbal identities. Logos, colors, images, words, fonts… branding isn’t about a single tool nor a one-size-fits-all strategy. So, for our year in review, here are five bite-size 2016 branding highlights that can offer  understandable takeaways for small businesses.

1. Word of the Year:

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the word for 2016 is post-truth, a word that invokes politics and perception. Post-truth is an adjective that relates to circumstances where facts are less influential over public opinion than ideas that simply appeal to a person’s beliefs.

Waaaaaait a second… you mean perception (belief) is greater than reality (facts)? Shocking. We at BRANDING FOR THE PEOPLE have been teaching that for YEARS!

The perception you build around your brand is the whole brand! If no one believes your mousetrap is the best, then no one will buy it. Period. We’d also point out a secondary highlight: clichés won’t create perceptions that generate sales.

2. Color of the Year:

Color impacts us beyond the walls of a baby’s nursery. It sets tone, mood, personality, even how we taste. Each December, Pantone announces its upcoming Color of the Year. For 2016, this was Rose Quartz and Serenity. Did you feel serene this year? If not, perhaps that explains the dramatic shift for 2017 to the yellow-green shade it calls “Greenery.” Or, as Fast Company points out, something that looks like the radioactive isotope from The Simpsons.

Does this mean you need to run out and buy a few gallons of paint? No. What this reminds us is that color creates and alters not just perception… but action as well. What is your story? What mood and tone do you want? Does your color help or hurt? Is Greenery going to help mold the public’s perception of your brand? Maybe, but if you don’t sell plants or green furniture, then you’ll just blend in.

3. Font of the Year:

New fonts come along every year, playing with every attribute of typeface. Do you know the anatomy of a font? There’s serif (or sans serif), ligature, smallcaps…. What about ear? spur? tail? finial? Fonts have a number of components that can be changed to create drastically different tones.

The Type Directors Club announces the best typeface design each year, and this year, “Mornic” landed its award, followed by BC Mikser. Check out these other notable new fonts from 2016:

  • Sonder: something rough, bold, rugged.
  • Bitter: austere, no-nonsense, echoing that old typewriter in the attic.
  • Cavorting: casual, upright, handwritten font that could be an inked note.

There are challenges when naming THE Font of The Year, because, as with color, the “best” font for you will hinge entirely on the personality you want. Don’t go changing stationery simply because you see a cool new font that you love. Does it fit with your personality or feel completely random?

4. Copywriting

This year’s Webby Award for Best Copywriting went to Squatty Potty. You really have to watch the ad to appreciate why.

This unusual, humorous, cheeky video went viral and wasn’t an easy sell. Yet, it worked! What happened? The video lodged the product in everyone’s head. Funny, different, believable. Sometimes a bold identity with an off-the-beaten-path script is exactly what you need: don’t be afraid of the absurd if it can help you accurately communicate the solution to a problem no one knew they had in the first place!

5. Design of the Year:

Take a look at the 2016 Brand Impact Awards. The award for Best in Show went to johnson banks for “Dear World… Yours, Cambridge” for the University of Cambridge’s capital campaign. Using straightforward type and symbols, it boldly and directly shared specific, succinct examples of its impact on the world for 800 years.

Notice any other familiar ones from the Brand Impact Awards? Do these reflect one critic’s 2016 logo forecast for symbols, geometric shapes, graduated colors? Take a look at this list of the best and worst redesigns for 2016. Did you hate The Met’s new logo (although it, too, won a Brand Impact Award)? Does Instagram’s bore you? What’s your favorite?

The lesson here? Logos are a complicated function, even with rational choices, that consumers can swiftly love or hate. Do you pick a symbol simply because you like it? No: the design of the logo is as much a part of your story as the font, color, and words you use. If anything, the response to many of 2016’s redesigns says to us: don’t try this alone at home.

These 2016 branding highlights aren’t guarantees.

It is difficult to predict how these highlighted components will work for you, because each brand is different and tells a different story (hopefully, anyway). The stories that grab hold, leave a memory, spark an emotion, somehow lodge themselves into consumer perception are the ones that succeed. Although “greenery” may not be your color for 2017, understanding current perceptions and trends can provide you with information relevant to your positioning in the market place.

Your positioning matters. It identifies where you fit in the consumer landscape and helps you determine if your brand is telling the story you want.

How does your brand compare with our 2016 branding highlights? Do you stand out and march to a different drummer? Or does something in your toolkit leave you embarrassed?

Have any favorites or thoughts to share with use? Leave a comment! Please don’t hesitate to let us know if we can help you with any aspect of branding.

Is Madonna’s Brand Ready to Pop?

Does Madonna’s brand need to change?

No one can question that Madonna’s brand has been incredibly successful.

According to the Guinness World Records, Madonna holds the title as “Best-Selling Female Recording Artist” with more than 305 million albums worldwide. She is currently outsold only by Michael Jackson, The Beatles, and Elvis Presley.

It’s no wonder that writers, fans, and celebrities look at Madonna’s brand for cues on cultivating an image worthy of pop-star success.

Yet, something has shifted.

In 2015, after Madonna posted her worst sales numbers for a new album, one critic brazenly asserted:

Every great artist also needs to know when it’s time to hang up the microphone before a legacy is too heavily tarnished. For Madonna, that time was nearly a decade ago, and the more she ignores this fact, the larger the footnote on her legacy will become.

Is this prognosis overly harsh, based purely off one set of bad numbers? Or, do the numbers reflect a changed perception of Madonna’s brand overall?

That question is actually the subject of a marketing study conducted at University of Southern California, based upon a survey of 1000 young Americans. The study found that Madonna is seen as desperately seeking attention while wishing to speak for millennials (that hard to pin down collection of audiences under the age of 35). The resulting perception is telling, as noted in another article based on the same survey: Madonna is seen as inauthentic. It seems as though she doesn’t simply want to speak for millennials, but that she wishes she were one. Unfortunately for her, it isn’t possible to be a 58 year old millennial, even if she played a major role in setting the groundwork for their generation to flourish.

Inauthentic. Does that sound familiar? It should. Accountability—the ability to deliver on a brand promise—is one of 3 attributes required to maintain and create a perception that keeps customers loyal. It’s even one of the branding lessons we’ve learned from the Material Girl herself: always deliver.

Another writer argues that Madonna, whose image (brand) is about reinvention, is delivering exactly what an audience wants in an era of mediocrity and apathy. Wow, that’s harsh. Are millennials really a mediocre consumer market that doesn’t care? We think not. As we have seen, today’s millennial consumers are much more savvy when it comes to technology and marketing. In fact, what the USC study on Madonna reveals is perhaps what we’ve assumed: 1980s counterculture doesn’t work today.

When the video for Like A Prayer famously angered the Catholic Church, did we believe that Madonna cared whether or not she offended anyone? No, and that shock of her outspoken, individual personality was at least part of her brand. Yet, branding is about perception, and the study is clear: Madonna is 17 times less influential than Taylor Swift. Even among Gen X’ers, she’s losing touch.

Either Madonna hasn’t evolved in the right direction, or she is holding onto an old strategy that no longer works. When consumer perception changes, it’s time to rebrand.

Perception is brand reality. That alone is evidence that the original Material Girl needs new material.

We’ll leave you with Madonna’s own lesson in rebranding:

“No matter who you are, no matter what you did, no matter where you’ve come from, you can always change, become a better version of yourself.”

If this article was useful, please do us a favor and share it with others and/or submit a comment below.

7 of the Funniest Branding Blunders

When a Brand Becomes a Joke

Mistakes happen, right?

However, you don’t want them happening in your brand. Mistakes can backfire, like DiGiorno learned when it tried humor while tweeting a hashtag addressing domestic violence.

Not all mistakes are as uncomfortably disastrous. Some are outright funny while still providing valuable lessons for creating a well-crafted brand. Fortunately, you don’t have to learn this lesson the hard way. We are here to help you avoid these embarrassing gaffes. Here are 7 of the Funniest Branding Mistakes (in our opinion).


01. Esurance “cover your home in a …

Font selection matters. This includes font spacing, or “kerning.” Especially when text might be read from a distance, as Esurance learned with its “cover your home in a click” billboard. We’re fairly certain that Esurance didn’t intend the other message.

02. Touch Woody

Here’s another lesson in translation, this one in English. In 1996, Panasonic developed a touch-screen computer. That’s more than 20 years ago – when many of us were just getting our first email account. The feature – named after Woody Woodpecker – was dubbed “Touch Woody.” This one hurts: a product more than a decade ahead of everyone else, killed by an American middle-school sexual innuendo.

03. Original Trump / Pence campaign logo

Perhaps this is a lesson in knowing your audience. A well-crafted brand considers how it might be received or even modified in the public realm. Especially when you are highly confrontational and a touchpoint for intense rebuttal and scrutiny. The original T/P logo inspired a slew of mockery through gifs and other user-modified logos.

04. La Redoute and The Naked Man

The idea of proofreading applies to photographs. Do you really want naked men in the background of your campaign for a brand of children’s clothing? We didn’t think so.

05. Happy to Sit… Where?

The humor on this billboard for sunglasses was quite intentional. The mistake? Underestimating the joke’s reception by consumers. Humor and parody can work in a well-crafted brand, but the audience, location and visibility of the joke become important. Not every joke should be broadcast to the public from a billboard.

06. What kind of homesite?

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Proofread and spellcheck. That’s really all we can say. If you need help, Copy For The People and our Master Wordsmiths are here for you.

07. Jackpot of Logo Failures

We found this list of logos that really speak for themselves. Instead of picking one, we’ve decided to share the entire list of funny design failures compiled by the folks over at Digital Synopsis. Remember: a shoestring budget rarely (if ever) results in a well-crafted brand. Involve someone outside your inner circle and hire someone to take a candid, fresh look at your branding. This will help ensure that your logo doesn’t become the next internet meme.

We hope you’ve enjoyed some of the funniest branding mistakes and gained a few insights into the value of a well-crafted brand. Humor can be an asset, but mistakes – even funny ones – can have disastrous (and expensive) consequences.

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