The good, the bad and the ugly -- a critical look at brand communications today.
Sunday, December 10, 2006
Seeing red -- a problem of brand convergence
I think it started with Target, or at least, that’s when I first noticed it: the color red. It was a subtle clue that you were watching a Target spot. It was effective. So much so, that virtually every department store has added a red element to its brand identity. Some department stores have also adopted the quirky look and personality of Target’s broadcast spots in their own advertising. The result: you don’t know if it’s a Kohls spot or a Target spot until the very end. That can backfire. For example, if the viewer associates the Kohls spot he or she is watching with the Target brand in any way, Kohls just wasted its money, and Target got some free advertising.
Here’s another, more recent example of the perils of brand convergence. This time it started with a series of clever spots by Apple Computer. The messaging uses two people as metaphors for the PC and Mac. The dialogue between the two exposes the problems and inefficiencies of using a PC.
No sooner was that on the air, than Toshiba launched a print campaign for their advanced copier technology. Look familiar? The concept is right off Mac’s page. I wonder how many business magazine skimmers will associate the Toshiba ad with Mac on the strength of its visual? I did, for one.
I’ve sustained a freelance copywriting career for more than 20 years. I've written advertising and annual reports for some of the world's leading corporations, including The Coca-Cola Company, Polo Ralph Lauren, Newell Rubbermaid, Emirates Airlines, Neenah Paper, Universal Electronics, CDC, Equifax, and Progress Energy. I’ve picked up plenty of wisdom along the way. And I’m happy to share it with you. For free.