What don’t they get? How simple can it be? I’m a consumer, and I like my chosen brands. They are familiar and they are consistent, with a character and personality that I understand. So, I associate them with my lifestyle, I trust them and I buy them…and I’ll keep on buying them as long as I can continue to trust them and they evolve and adapt to my ever changing life, without morphing into something else.

Now, that’s not a complicated concept….is it?. So how is it that some of ‘the top professionals’, the marketers and designers of this world, just don’t get it?

Tropicana BO1By now, you’d think, that everyone in the profession would be aware of the famous Tropicana packaging fiasco, where they ‘re-designed’ without respecting any of the basic design (or marketing), rules, you know, the ones about evolving the brand whilst adding value, so that consumers can continue to recognise and appreciate their brand in store. If you are in the profession, I’m sure you’ll remember that the Tropicana brand paid a very high and very expensive price for ignoring these basic rules, and in the end had to return to their original packaging!

Gap Old NewThen there was Gap, who completely re-designed their logo to look like another brand and who were, it seems, ‘surprised’ by consumer’s reaction. Here again, they were forced, to change back to their original square logo. Duh!

ConsistentIt makes me wonder, what goes on in these mega corporations that seem so wise and professional, how is it that they make such schoolboy errors? Don’t the design and marketing colleges teach their people any more about the relationship between a brand and its consumer? Are there no ‘experienced’ marketing professionals looking after the longevity of their brands?

Well, today I think I’ve spotted another example, that I think shows lack of understanding of the importance of the relationship between brand and consumer. It’s the new launch of Bacardi. It seems to me that: Once again, someone ‘don’t get it!’ Once again, brand cues that the Bacardi brand has built up over years, that are recognised and appreciated by the brands consumers, that position the brand as young and dynamic, are being thrown away!

Bacardi Old:New

Well, ‘I’ don’t get it either! Why would you do this? Why would you want to confuse consumers by changing all the brand cues, that they have come to love and trust?


Sure from a design point of view, I can understand that it’s nice to go back to the roots of a brand and to express it’s heritage. In this case, moving to a closer representation of the original bat (more of a botanical drawing than a brand symbol), and the Art Deco lettering apparently found on the building of the ‘former’ sales office in Havana.

But, what’s all that got to do with the Bacardi brand of 2014? It seems to me that the Bacardi brand I know does not live in the past, it lives in the here and now, in today’s world where no one sees (or cares about), what a real bat looks like or in which original building Bacardi ‘once’ had a sales office! Bacardi lives in the real world, a youthful contemporary world of clubs, bars, hotels, rock concerts and other venues where young people live. It is OUR brand now!

There’s a practical point here too, pointed out by my good friend Lars Wallintin, this is gonna’ cost an absolute fortune to implement across the globe, so I hope they are right because whilst evolutionary design can be changed gradually, revolutionary design must be changed at once if consumers are not to be confused, and that leaves little room for marketing errors!

History tells us (Tropicana, Gap and others), that abandoning the well known brand cues and graphic positioning normally associated with any brand, can put any re-launch on very dangerous ground. I can only hope for the Bacardi brand. that in this case, I will be proved wrong…………..but…..!

You can find the story here and make up your own mind:

Rowland Heming©
 – June 2014

*If you would like this presentation or any presentation on this site to be made to your company, university or organisation, please contact me on rh.pkga@gmail.com


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