Branding is a fluid thing. While Twinings, Heinz, and Boots haven’t changed their logos for over a hundred years (since 1787, 1869, and 1883, to be exact), more recent conventions demand that companies modify their identities every few years. Microsoft, for instance, has gone through seven logos since 1972 and effectively created the ‘flat’ design style that’s been destroying originality since the beginning of the last decade.
Tradition vs Modernisation
Of course, everything is capable of being rebadged, including things usually dependent on tradition. In the casino world, Betfair’s selection of roulette games has gone through some rather significant amendments over the past few years – yet the underlying gameplay remains almost the same as it has always been. The most recent change has been a shift toward a more immersive experience for players.
In the latter case, this means that developers have tried to re-inject the standard roulette game with the ‘human’ element that’s sometimes missing from online play. Nowadays, a webcam can be used to show an image of the dealer, who responds to the game just as they would in a brick-and-mortar casino. Lobbies with long odds, like 100/1 Roulette, and first-person games have been released to an increasingly demanding casino audience.
One of the most ravenous sets of re-designers actually exists in a more mundane realm though – beverages. Coca-Cola’s handwritten badge has been with the drinks giant since 1887, while Del Monte has stuck to its mutant apple logo for just over a century. However, Pepsi has never found peace with its presentation and, as of March 29, changed its logo for the 21st time since it was founded as Brad’s Drink in 1893.
Oddly enough, just a few days later, Coca-Cola would relaunch its Fanta brand to ditch all of its identifying characteristics (remember the flat design problem from earlier?), becoming just a white word on a blue background. Coca-Cola made the change based on sound logic, noting that it wanted to compete with another of its brands, Sprite, but the frequency that companies like Pepsi make changes begs many different questions.
Inevitably, there are almost as many reasons to upset a product’s identity as there are individual products. At the more extreme end of the scale, the New Coke line introduced in 1985 actually created a conspiracy theory about whether it was all a clever trick to get people interested in the old recipe again. For Pepsi, its rebrands have varied in purpose from mimicking Coca-Cola to suggesting patriotism after WWII.
Somewhat ironically, branding efforts designed to attract new customers, as in the Fanta example, often have the opposite effect, as regular drinkers become confused.
Tropical drink Lilt may come to serve as a cautionary tale for this problem in the future, with the branding change to Fanta Pineapple & Grapefruit. Those longstanding Lilt fans who don’t keep up with the latest soft drink news may now find themselves out of luck (and Lilt) at the supermarket.
Beverages are a marketer’s dream for branding case studies as there are so many varied examples. As with all things though, not everything works out all the time – or even makes sense.