May 13, 2014

In an increasingly crowded shopping and marketing environment, and with today’s communications culture demanding fewer words and more visuals (think Twitter and Vine), brands need to reconsider the strength of their visual assets.

It’s imperative to make them ownable by leveraging things such as color, texture, artistic treatment, and shape so that a brand can connect with consumers in a split second. When done right, these immediate visual associations help consumers feel like a brand understands them, helps them easily find the right product for their need in a sea of choices or helps them feel that they’re part of something bigger.

There seems to be a growing awareness of the importance of these assets, such that they are coming under threat. This gives even more reason for a brand to be prepared with proper defenses.

Marketing Takeaways

Every brand leader should seek distinctive brand assets that are truly ownable by the brand.

Cadbury tried to fend off Nestle’s court appeal to no avail; the color purple, once owned by Cadbury, can now be used by any chocolatier (Nestle’s own brand, Wonka, also uses the color purple). Burberry’s classic tartan plaid pattern is also under threat, as some in China claim that it is not used enough in China in the past three years, suggesting they’ve relinquished their rights to it.

Branding was in threat in Selfridges & Co.’s The Quiet Shop, located in London, which stocked its shelves with products with no branding. Yet with such iconic elements, brands such as Heinz, Beats by Dr. Dre, and Clinique could stand as a brand at shelf by leveraging visual cues with no brand name required

We see both a minimizing and, at the same time, embracing of brand logos with artists and fashion houses alike using them in artistic styles. In a sense, it’s a redefining of what logos mean both in fashion and society. Consider the Campanas + Lacoste project that reinvented a high art statement of the classic alligator polo. Brazilian brother duo Humberto and Fernando Campana have recast the lone icon into a series of the famed reptile in swirl patterns featured across the entire garment. The collector series takes brand identity to a whole new level.

To learn more about the need for indelible visual assets, download SIGHTINGS – The Forecast Issue: The Age of Redefinition.