Several years ago, a local store in my neighborhood was underperforming. They were below projections and couldn’t seem to gain much traction. They moved from their “side street” location to the adjacent avenue and the business took off. They gained instant visibility and today many years later are a major retailer on that avenue. A manufacturer of chocolate bars and bites couldn’t seem to get his products to move off the shelf. It got to the point where several supermarkets threatened to take their products off the shelf. When the manufacturer switched from a cellophane bag to a box, sales soared by 25%. It was obvious that it was hard to flag customers when the cellophane bags were stacked and pressed against one another. When the manufacturer switched to a box the products gained instant visibility. While these may not sound like serious changes, they are tweaks that can make a difference and contribute to a better bottom line.
Even the most iconic brands have to be concerned that their brand image may become stale and that the competition will take advantage of a company that is asleep at the wheel. What’s more is that there is clear evidence that there is a clear relationship between how a company is perceived and the bottom line.
So, what was Coca Cola thinking when earlier this month they did away with their iconic green bottle for Sprite in favor of a clear bottle? After all, the green bottle was a fixed staple on every beverage shelf. One would think that something as embedded as the Sprite look would not be tampered with. But Coke made the change saying that the new bottle is more environmentally friendly, a goal the company set for its products years ago. For Coca Cola there is no fear that people will defect because of the change or that they will not find the product because of its changed appearance. Sprite is so well branded and ingrained in the minds of people that there is not even an iota of a doubt that customers will not find the product, especially because of a color change on the bottle.
In truth, Coca Cola will gain on many fronts. It will be able to go to a bottle that it can recycle into new bottles instead of into clothing and carpeting. Making it so that plastic bottles can be recycled into new plastic bottles means that less new plastic is created, and less ends up in landfills or parks, or oceans. Coca Cola can tout its absolute commitment to a cleaner environment. In an age where corporate social responsibility has become so important, it can again claim a leadership role.
That is not to say that some customers didn’t resist when they learned of the change on social media. Some customers reacted to the announcement by saying they couldn’t imagine drinking Sprite out of anything but a green bottle. But ultimately even they will reluctantly adapt to the changed bottle. It just comes to show that change is change even if its only the color of a bottle. But it also shows that if you have a strong brand you have far more flexibility in tweaking the product.
Experience has shown that change is by and large a good thing for a business and in most cases can enhance the bottom line. The brand design and the concept of a company is the most recognizable and essential component that helps people relate a product with it. Many companies are so afraid that any change in their design or slogan will alienate customers that they simply do not update their corporate image. However, many times, a change in the packaging design can help restructure the company portfolio better and certainly send a message of growth and progress.
Nowadays many brands are dated and require freshening up. I sometimes recognize fonts from years past as well as outdated designs. Despite being a historic strong brand, using outdated colors and designs only opens the door to those who have a new and fresh look violating a cardinal role in business, never to open the door to your competition.
Also revered as a way of brand repositioning or renewal, change is a significant transition that can make or break a brand name. The most talked-about brand change of the last few years includes some of the most iconic global brand names, including BMW, Cadbury, Gucci, and Old Spice.
Target went all out in enhancing its brand by having millions of people carry their distinctly recognizable shoulder bag. It has become a major tool for marketing the box store, especially in an age where plastic bags were being eliminated. Each one of these well-known brands came away with better financial results.
These are the perfect examples of why a business needs occasional design repackaging. A change is good if it is carefully planned and implemented. Any rebranding should be implemented with a strategic marketing plan. Experts say that Coca Cola has a good track record of updating its corporate image. It periodically tweaks its logo and package design, carefully balancing the need for updating and preserving its heritage. In addition to logos and slogans, corporate America has found many ways of updating its image, even periodically changing the uniforms of its employees. Many businesses that cater to a younger audience are
constantly looking over their shoulders to make sure that they are with the times.
It is amazing how so many things that surround us are updated that we don’t even notice. I see these changes on mass transit, shipping companies and believe or not even school buses. Various studies have shown that as much as consumers like to do business with tried and tested establishments, they also look for the way the company is updating themselves. You can also see it on grocery shelves as many brands have in recent years updated the design on their packaging. It is simply changing for the better and the future!