05 Oct

“My 6 year old son could have done that”

Anyone in marketing dealing with branding has heard that one before. About a logo design. About a tag line.
Most of the time, it is very hard to argue the point. When you look at the final product of a logo design, or when you read a final tag line, it is probably really simple. Doesn’t look hard to do. But that’s measuring the wrong thing. It’s not about how hard it is to create something, but how strong it communicates the desired brand positioning.

For example. Kraft thought it was a fun idea to engage their customers in naming a new product. They put little jars with Vegemite flavoured cheese spread and decided to crowd source the name for the new product. “Name Me” the little jars of spread shouted off the shelves. So that was the brief. “Name Me”.isnack1

The result was that thousands sent in their ideas, and the good people at Kraft, (custodians of one of the most iconic brands in Australia, Vegemite) chose one that sounded like something their target audience might like. iSpread 2.0. I won’t go into all the reasons why this was a terrible choice, there is plenty of commentary from all sorts of media (social and otherwise) on that. In fact, the Wall Street Journal even reported the fact that the company has decided to pull the name and think of a new one.

What I am more interested in is how they got there. The reason you don’t let your 6 year old son design a logo (or a product name) is that he is not likely to be clear on what you’re trying to communicate, how you are trying to position the product. That is the difficulty in design and good branding; how to communicate an idea in the simplest, most powerful way.

The sort of thoughts you expect to go through someones mind naming a product (especially for an iconic brand) are:

  • What is the position I want this product to take in the mind of my target audience?
  • How does the new product fit with the things people think of here in Australia when they think of Vegemite? (i.e. the brand)
  • What do I need to avoid, so I don’t damage the most valuable thing my company has, its brand?

Without that, how could either the people creating the name, or the people choosing the name know if it was good, bad or indifferent?
It is the difference between advertising thinking and brand positioning, and I think Al Ries should have a field day with this one, in one of his contributions on Branding Strategy Insider.

Get your customers involved is fun, but don’t think that you can take a short cut to the hard work of positioning a product.