marți, 17 februarie 2009

Is good branding a lucky strike?

People, in general, don’t mind too much the brands, the names, the stiles. And they also do not realize that exactly those brands that they prefer have not been named by chance and have not received the colors because of what their owners preferred. The brands they love have been built with passion and quite a considerable amount of knowledge, research, strategy and talent.

Sometimes such small design elements of a brand are the ones that make the difference. Why do we have a slightly better feeling for one brand than for the other when we have them all in front of us in the superstore shelf? Why do we feel sometimes that the packaging of a product communicates by itself the messages that the advertising is promoting or that the company that sent us a letter is exactly what they presented themselves to be? The answer is never luck. The answer stays in real marketing professionalism from the company's top management (not only the marketing responsibles) and from the communication agencies they hire.

A short example is Heineken Beer. If you are out for beer with friends and you order different beer brands, according to each of your tastes, you look at Heineken and feel without really noticing that it makes you feel nice, even if you actually are drinking another brand. It is not a huge feeling, but just a slight sensation that whispers to you to have fun or that you are having fun. The key is not in the beer taste, or in the bottle color, and neither in the quantity of alcohol you have inserted in yourself that evening. The key is a good branding and the Heineken Owner’s capacity to realize its potential when luck stroke.

A Dutch friend of mine told me this story over a beer. It seems that it is a known branding true story amongst quite a large group of people that were interested, but not necessarily an official one. I decided to tell it, because even though it might not be a huge example, it is fun, just like the Heineken Beer.

The three letters “e” in the Heineken logo are slightly bended backwards so they seem they are smiling. The story of Heineken’s smiley e-letters is about luck… initially. It is said that when workers placed the signboard on the factory wall, one of the es was not fixed properly and it twisted backwards. The owner noticed that the next morning he came to the factory, stood there for a while and decided to stop the workers from making it straight. He felt that the logo gave him a good feeling somehow. He called the professionals and redesigned the whole branding items with all 3 letters bended backwards. There was luck there. If the workers would have done their job perfectly, the e would have been straight and who knows how the Heineken logo would have looked over time… or even if it would have endured the time in that original version.

But that is where luck finished and strategy started. They did not keep the same font type. They changed it to a friendlier appeal. They did not leave only one twisted e. They decided that all 3 es will be smiling. Beer is supposed to make you feel good, smile, but not alone. Beer drinking is a social thing. Beer stands for going out, having fun, with friends that are like you. They did not twis all the letters. Heineken drinkers are not like all others, right?

Heineken is known for its continuous communication in terms of fun, good music, enjoying the company you are in. Heineken sponsors jazz shows and live music bars and clubs, outdoor concerts and so on. They do not communicate the number of bubbles the beer has, or the taste. They do not go for sport events or churlish behavior. The do not gor for extremes and don't attack biases. Heineken is fun, friends, having a good time in the normal generally acceptable meaning.

For sure, they are not the only beer brand that promotes or associates itself with fun, music and going out with friends. But they certainly are amongst the very few (if it is too bold to say the only) brands that not only communicates fun, it gives you that feeling even if you are not a beer drinker like myself.


  • The name, the logo, the colors and style are the backbones of branding. These 4 elements alone can support a brand if they are really good.
  • Good branding has a lot of research and strategy behind
  • Good branding means communicating consistently over long periods of time and throughout all your actions, media, instruments you use.
  • Great branding is subtle, but effective.

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