Let’s get down to earth!

Marketing and design, synergy work when it comes to creating the brand of a company, the most important thing after the investors’ money for an enterprise. Stories, reasons and evolution of some of the most famous brands in the market.

Let’s get back down to earth, just for finding a support base at least on which to lever and make another jump towards the “practically abstract” which exists between design and marketing.

Let’s keep ourselves entertained, meanwhile, along one of the many terrains shared by design and marketing or better where, one is put at the service of the other and the other stimulates one to evolve, finding solutions always more efficient and innovative, capable of creating new trends, creating acceptance and continuity.

We talk about what’s the most important thing that exists, in a partnership, after the money of the investors: the brand, or how it is more conventionally called by who is familiar with “Financial Times” English, the corporate brand.

The true competition, the ruthless one, I am telling you, is not fought in production lines or in research labs, but on display shelves instead where, within a few centimeters of distance, if not paired, there are products whose brands, had they life, would have eagerly engaged into a fight. It is fought, it is won. The reason is simple, every innovation or product improvement, fruit of research & refinement, serves to nothing if not perceived by the consumer, the client is not aware of it. The same could be said for what happens in assembly lines, like for example quality control. The essence which is transmitted through the appearance, from here obviously the initial assertion regarding the vital importance of choice of a company’s Name – Logotype and Brand appears more motivated.

Figura 1 - Scaffale dei detersivi in un Supermarket

Video 1 – Commercial war between Coca-Cola and Pepsi

The name is the company’s business name, the logotype is the graphic display of the name, while the brand instead is a summarizing image of the company, like the picture on the identity card.

It is often the core business, or the product with which the enterprise enters the market before diversifying production to affect the design of the company logo. Such an example is Algida, now a Unilever brand, which after entering the market as the first industrial ice-cream produced in Italy, that is the “Cremino”, has had an impact with “Cornetto – Cuore di Panna” (Heart of Cream), to the point of retaking the basic theme of the “Heart” modifying its original logo in a certain sense. Attention here even to the business name, Algida derives from algido (icy-cold in Italian), word which during dog days has its own appeal.

Figura 2 - Evoluzione del marchio Algida nel tempo

The strategies behind the brand choice are complex and daring due to the nature of business and the unpredictability of the public response. A first rule, we can list here, can be found exactly in Algida’s choice to adjust its own logo to the flagship product. After “breaking through” in the market, gathering approval, the “Feed” (trust) which consumers enjoy towards the company is associated, by the company itself, with other products with a direct reference to the flagship product, and that, in the case of Algida, occurs exactly through the brand. If you have read at least a Mickey Mouse, drank Aquarius, Fanta or Sprite here’s the confirmation that this strategy works.

Or, the brand, rather than the features of a single product goes to represent the calling of the company in question, reassuming the basic features.

Take for example FIAT, which is nothing else but “Fabbrica Italiana Auto Torino”. Without having recourse to acronyms, to enclose in this category are brands like Alitalia (Italian airline company), and Gazprom (gas supplier) which beyond the appeal of the name rely also on the design of their own logotype to recall the nature of the provided services; in that of Alitalia the A (which became the company’s logo) recalls the shape of a wing and takes up the colors of the Italian flag, in that of Gazprom a flame is present, in which the color makes reference to that generated exactly by the combustion of natural gas, which the company extracts.

Figura 3 - Marchi Gazprom & Alitalia

There are cases then in which the name of the manufacturer appears as the name of the product to the point it becomes metonymy. Impossible not to place on top of this category the fast-food chain Mc Donald’s. The reason behind this choice lies in creating a more direct thread with the consumer, putting one’s own face and name to instill trust, not by chance such a strategy is used especially in the clothing, restaurant and food industry; remaining in Italy we have examples such as Barilla, Poiatti, Ferrero, Amadori, Rana.

The same reasoning is adopted by companies which deal directly or indirectly of safety, such as Beghelli, in Italy, or Michelin, manufacturer of pneumatic tires which, by conferring stability to motor vehicles, guarantee their safety. An important recall, on Michelin, is the brand, Bibendum (derived from the slogan used in the beginning of the twentieth century, “nunc est bibendum”, translated “the tire drinks the obstacle”) which italianized became “little man michelin”.

Figura 4 - Marchi col Nome del Proprietario

This character, designed with the shapes of piled-up tires, goes studied in depth like a doctor studies anatomy. Besides rendering clear the importance of a recognizable brand it ties recognition to peculiarity, conferred in turn by a sensible oddity such as a man made of pneumatic inner tubes.

Sensible oddity such as the six-legged dog of AGIP, acronym of Azienda Generale Italiana Petroli, or Mastro Lindo, and its glittering bald head (not by chance), or L’Omino Bianco, not by chance of a dark complexion, Capitan Findus or the mysterious kid of Kinder confections.

Characters which enter everyday lives of families through a cathode ray tube or labels on products, sign of permeability and high conditioning, one grows fond to the point of almost feeling like cheating when swapping the product with its rival; remember Calimero? It was born as testimonial for the Mira Lanza detergents, at the times of Carosello, and became a cartoon of an unbelievable popularity.

Figura 5 - Bibendum ed il Cane a sei Zampe di Agip

Video 2 – Calimero is born on Carosello

It’s all strategy, nothing is left to chance, not even the shape or the color of packaging or the arrangement or the size of the logotype and brand. Why the ingredients of a product are always put in a corner, written in tiny letters? The message is “Matters What, not With what”. An exception is constituted by a series of products, among which several medicines, which carry the basic molecule of the drug as their own name. And if Coca-Cola was originally thought as a medicine, it also goes listed here.

There are certain product names studied to be afoot real commercials, such as Super Attack (glue), Lucky Strike (cigarettes), Clear (shampoo), Volkswagen (translated people’s car) Vanish (detergent), whose slogan is “trust the rose”, goes connected with what was said in the previous paragraph regarding the accuracy of details, even minimal, in which marketing strategies penetrate. As with regard to brands, reigns the three-pointed star of Mercedes, meaning “supremacy on land, sky and sea”.

Figura 6 - Marchi con "messaggio promozionale" annesso

Another product which falls into this category is the water softener Calgon, which gives us the opportunity to analyze with accuracy the modification of the product’s name, originally Calfort. Initially, on the old packaging bearing the name Calfort, written in big letters, was associated the new one (which after all was not new, but this is another issue), Calgon, in smaller letters.

Followed by publicity campaigns in which the change of name was exactly evidenced, up to the new packaging with Calgon in big letters and Calfort, who will soon disappear, in small ones. Exactly the same happened in passing from SIP to Telecom, from Omnitel to Vodafone. When the client purchases, purchases what he/she knows because ties the name to the quality of the product, when the name is modified,  doubts on the quality and authenticity of the product emerge on the client’s mind.

Figura 7 - Cambio di Nome o Marchio

We add to this synthetic round-up enterprises which choose their own name, entirely inventing it or with a mix between modern and antic, their own and borrowed, however not immediately having reference to the nature of the product nor its use.

Entering the market, for these enterprises, is more difficult in the beginning but, once penetrated the proper target, they are able to establish and have a bigger share in their niche market.

The name Sony (electronics) is born from a crossbreeding between the Latin “sonus” and the English “sunny” which in Japanese sounds like the expression used for “bright guys”, Google is born from the term googol which indicates the number represented by 1 followed by 100 zeros (as to signify the depth of the research in connection to the number of words found); such meanings have their weight in the production of brands, that of Audi, for example, in which the four circles do not represent the four wheels of the automobile but rather the four carmakers which gave life to the brand.

Figura 8 - Nomi e Loghi inventati o con rimandi non immediatamente comprensibili

We close with the most illustrative brand: Apple.

Originally, the brand of the company founded by the “two Steves” was something totally unsuitable to the market, product, everything. The name Apple has its origins from the “apple” which falling on the head of Sir. Isaac Newton made the physicist have the idea of the theory of gravitation. Enlightenment which, for Apple, coincided with rendering computers into PCs, affordable not only in price but also in dimensions. The original logo reproduced Sir. Isaac Newton absorbed in reading a book leaning against an apple tree, full of citations from Wordsworth along the edges. Can you imagine a similar thing on a computer? No, obviously not.

Everything was simplified, only the apple, originally complete, then, from the slogan “taking a bite of the Apple” (in which “bite”, is pronounced in the same way as “byte”, unit of measure for digital information) it was decided to further modify the logo, adding a bite which would render the apple less similar to a tomato. The Apple brand was successful also for its multicolor shades which cost a fortune  but also yielded a lot in terms of visibility, perfect for a generation tied to polychromy like that of the end of the 80s and beginning of the 90s.

Figura 9 - Evoluzione del Marchio Apple inc.

To become aware of the importance of the brand, and that of the Apple brand, enough to cite an economic agency which estimates the actual value of “Steve Jobs’s apple” around 15,443 billion dollars, billions worth. Worth noting how the Apple brand is only ranked 20° on a global scale in terms of value: third Microsoft (in which the colored window of the logo indicates the innovation brought by the corporation, that is the navigation in windows), second IBM and first Coca Cola, with un estimated value of 68,7 billion dollars.

Figura 1 - I tre marchi più preziosi al mondo

At a time when sales proceeds of Coca – Cola move around the 6 billion dollars, which is worth more, the brand or the product?

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The Author

Who is the author: Marco Di Mauro. Not knowing it well himself, he is not capable of providing adequate answers regarding this; currently attends the Faculty of Management Engineering of Catania.

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