Rigid Vs Flexible Branding
Despite working in branding for 15+ years now, I found myself asking the same question; Which type of branding system is more successful? The very rigid, almost religious brand treatment such as Apple or Coca-Cola, or the fluid brand treatment such as Google or MTV?
We were in a meeting the other day with a McGrath real estate sales team. They expressed that in order to change the tiniest detail on a business card or billboard such as adding a WeChat symbol to entice Chinese buyers, the request had to be sent to head office and would most likely be denied. A limiting system to the branches but seemingly necessary to retain brand integrity for a clean, minimal brand that communicates efficiency, honesty and reliability.
This is the same type of brand system that Apple uses to create that quasi religious feeling for users and employees alike. The knock on being that their customers are also their salespeople. They have a total belief in the brand, a belief that may not be there if they were to relax even a little from their fixed brand system.
On the other end of the scale we have flexible systems, the most famous example being Google who started the first Google Doodle as an out-of-office communication for when they went to the Burning Man festival. This ability to play and be relaxed with their brand softens the image of the tech giant and makes them more approachable to the end user. It’s important to note though that while the Google Doodle is swapped in for the main identity, when it goes, it is always replaced by the very consistent main brand mark. In this sense, a lot of control is still required to achieve this flexible outcome.
So I feel that the success of fixed or fluid brands really depends on the values that we want to communicate. If we want to express purity, assurance and integrity then it is appropriate to apply a rigid system with strict guidelines. If we want to express a friendly, approachable, perhaps edgy brand story then a flexible system may be more successful. The main point to take away from this is that the flexible system may require a much more comprehensive set of guidelines in order to be successful in achieving it’s goals.
Augmented Reality and Packaging
Is augmented reality the future of packaging?
“Augmented Reality” or “AR” has been around for a while now with probably it’s most successful application being the Pokemon GO app which seemed to take the world over for a short period with people strolling into oncoming traffic in order to snag some serious Poke-Coinage.
It seemed a fairly pointless fad at first but when you consider that the app was getting people to explore the world around them, and go to places they would never normally go, you could see that it had the potential for something more meaningful.
A recent commission by Treasury Wine Estates saw J. Walter Thompson and app developer Tactic come together to create a series of labels for TWE’s latest brand; 19 Crimes.
Once the TWE app has been downloaded, you can point your phone at the labels and the app overlays a 3-dimensional movie onto the bottle! In this way they are able to immerse consumers in history, engage them with figures from criminal history who come to life to tell their tales.
This is a fantastic way to add another layer not only to the entertainment value of a bottle of plonk but also to add depth to the brand experience, include stories about the vineyards, producers, palette or pairing information, harmful use warnings, or at the very least inform people of promotions or events.
The only real snag I can see with this technology is perhaps that extra step of having to download the app may get in the way. For some people it will be one step too many and one app too many. But I think that people are so used to this step now and the benefits are too great. Add to that the buzz around a relatively new technology (new in this application) and I think it will be enough for wineries, breweries and distillers to take this up in a big way. And hopefully, down the track, we see apple and android phones with the ability to recognise and respond to these visual cues without the need for different apps (They are hinting at this already).
If this happens, I’m sure we’ll see this on almost every package being made. It is very exciting, and I can’t wait to have a good old chat with my bottle of wine.