- Shashwat Das, Founder, almond branding shares a few learnings from the
- He also mentions a few international logos and slogans that were not taken lightly by the audience.
When the Police approached Myntra for an explanation, instead of offering their side of the story, Myntra immediately agreed to change the logo without batting an eyelid!
By agreeing to change its logo and to make it more “acceptable”, or let us call it “controversy-free”, Myntra made sure that it nipped the argument in the bud. While “consumer activism” and “consumer-mafia” as a phenomenon is definitely on the rise, brands too need to play their cards judiciously to avoid such unnecessary controversies.
For a layman, this may just look like a small logo tinkering. But it has a lot of ramifications. The logo now needs to be changed across every media channel, packaging boxes, product labels, store fronts, in-store branding, and a host of other places. This not only means re-spending huge amount of money and effort, it also means that the previous investment, monetary or otherwise, now stands wasted.
Personally, I never saw the logo in that light and in fact never came across anyone who found the logo suggesting something offensive. This is clearly a case of over-imaginative minds trying to find something or the other in everything. The sheer number of memes that come out post any event proves how wild people’s imaginations can run. But this is out of the control of brands. While brands need to be sensitive to consumer sentiments, and address them as much as possible, it can’t be reacting to every single out cry.
While I don’t wish to get into the “rights” and “wrongs” of the logo and am not supporting or opposing Myntra’s decision to change, all I want to say is that thankfully Myntra is an established brand and also has deep pockets to support this unplanned rebranding activity. Imagine what would have happened if it was a small brand or a start-up here instead of Myntra. I am sure you would agree that by now the brand owner would be staring at an impending bankruptcy due to the enormous cost of rebranding.
This brings us to the real issue at hand.
For all those upcoming brands or start-ups that are still in their infancy, is there a lesson to be learnt from the Myntra logo episode?
I believe there is. Read on.
There are three major components of a brand that any brand owner aims to strengthen – the brand name, the logo unit and the slogan (if any). Let us see the learning one can draw from the Myntra episode on these three components.
The brand name
In 1971, Ford launched its car named “Pinto” in Brazil. Surprisingly, the car failed to generate any telephonic enquiries, let alone showroom visits even after spending large sums. It was later discovered that in Brazilian slang, “Pinto” refers to small male genitals. Ford had no choice but to withdraw the car.
Brand name should always be controversy-free. Gone are the days when brand nomenclature was easier and brand names were based on the name of their founders (Bata, Tata, Bose, Porsche, etc.). These days due to trademark unavailability of generic words as brand names, abstract or coined names are popular(Zomato, Swiggy, Ola, etc.). However, while you might have had the best of intentions while naming your brand, it might just mean something very funny or offensive in a new geography that your brand intends to enter. It is always advisable to do your research beforehand rather than feeling sorry and redoing the same exercise after a controversy.
The Logo unit
It is often said that beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder. When it comes to a logo unit, a controversy too lies in the minds of the beholder. Take a look at some of the controversial logos which were not taken lightly by the general audience.
- The Arlington Pediatric Centre’s logo (below) landed into controversy soon after it was unveiled in 2009.
- The Institute of Oriental Studies had to withdraw this logo shortly after launch as it made a lot many people’s imagination run wild
- This Logo of the Catholic Church’s Archdioscean Youth Club (displayed below) even won an award from the prestigeous Art Director’s Club of Los Angeles, but was withdrawn as people saw a lot more in it.
- The Office of Government Commerce, a branch of US Treasury had to drop its horozontal logo when someone pointed out that the logo looks controversial when seen vertically.
Brand owners must be extra cautious while designing their logo units. The logo should be evaluated from all possible directions and also from different perspectives to avoid any controversies later on. Also, when it comes to rebranding, make sure that you talk to an adequately large number of customers and stakeholders before going ahead with the change. Just because you like the logo does not mean that the whole world will like it too! Also others might be able to see through a whole lot of things in your logo whch you might completely oversee as the above cases demonstrate.
The third important pillar of the brand’s identity is its slogan. Slogans need to be crafted very carefully and with experts on board to avoid controversy especially when being translated in a different language. Here are some of the “slogans-gone-wrong” for you.
- When Parker launched its leak-proof pen it had a punch-line that read “It won’t leak in your pocket and embarrass you.” But Parker mistook the translation of embarrass as “embarazar” in Mexico and the meaning got changed to “It won’t leak in your pocket and make you pregnant.”
- Pepsi had a slogan “It brings you back to life.” But when translated in Chinese, it read “It brings your ancestors back from the grave.”
- Electrolux goofed up when it translated its slogan in English. When translated, it read “Nothing sucks like an Electrolux”.
- Nokia launched its Lumia series across the world with much fanfare. Little did they know that Lumia when translated in Spanish meant a “prostitute.”
Remember, re-banding is not only a risky affair but is also a costly one. Avoiding such common mistakes at the beginning is the only way to grow your brand and make it bigger.