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.
Red. However, Target red TV ads stand out because it is superior and exceptional advertising (IMO). When I view the begining of a Target ad on the tube, my interest piques and I watch it intently, even though I do not see the brand name right away; but I can tell by the quality of the design and production that it's a Target ad. Being a designer and artist, I'm keen to that and will watch the ad for the integrity of the production. Knowing that it is a Target ad doesn't hurt the company, either, since I am more apt to think that if a company will produce such stellar peices, it can't be that bad and maybe I will go to the store and drop some cash. I do not pay attention to any of the other "red" ads. Macy's goes right in the trash, I'm so tired of being bombarded by them.-kat
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.