Last week, grocery giant Kroger unveiled its redesigned logo and tagline, much to the dismay of a zillion creatives. But it wasn’t just our collective LinkedIn feeds where the backlash was happening.
Brand New, a division of Under Consideration (both regular reading for many of us here), published an article that shared the new branding effort, its story, and some opinions on the subject.
The pièce de résistance: A poll at the end of the article, allowing readers to both vote, and see the results of said vote. Here’s what those results looked like as of 10 AM on Friday, November 15:
Naturally, our team had some opinions. Here’s a peek at how our internal conversation went down, edited only for legibility, not to soften its real talk-ness.
Milan: The new Kroger logo is horrid:
Neil: They could have changed a few little things and avoided the whole octopus look:
(FYI: Neil is one of our Associate Creative Directors and resident UX expert. He’s also an optimist, and took a mere 6 seconds to try and turn that straw into gold. Imagine what he could have done with more than 6 seconds!)
Milan: Even if you’re okay with them extending the "K" and the "G" the way they did, they could have at least tried to make it look like it was a natural extension of the letterform. Instead, it looks like they just halved an "O" and nudged it until it fit "close enough."
Rebecca: The new K looks like someone waving a rope around.
Paul: The "OG" is kind of a smile. Probably intentional? But the flow of the vertical descender of the "g" into the half-circle of the bottom part feels really unnatural.
Wes: I, too, see a smile...with a monocle? And gold added to the logo? I’m onto you Mr. Peanut.
(In retrospect, I’m kind of bummed we also didn’t talk about how so much of the instore signage bears that Wal-Mart-ish baby blue and yellow.)
ABOUT THAT TAGLINE
The mediocre madness didn’t stop with the logo. Our team also saw some challenges with how they chose to phrase their brand ethos:
Heather: "Fresh For Everyone" has weak legs. That could easily have been used by Axe Body Spray!
Milan: Amen, Heather. If you’re gonna’ write yourself into a universally applicable corner, why not get weird with it: "Arise, Ye Sons of Freshness."
In fairness, taglines are almost never something so unique, they could only be attached to the specific brand they were written for. But with a strong brand strategy, you can convince the general public to associate any tagline with your specific brand.
“Just do it” could have been the tagline for colleges & universities or Visit Milwaukee or flu shot initiatives. But because of a focused effort over the years, Nike trained us all to associate those three words with their company, and no one else.
Maybe over time this will be the case for Kroger, but for my money, if they had to insist on having a tagline, the could have started from a more unique place.
A FRIENDLY REMINDER BEFORE WE END THIS
In this industry, you're inevitably going to find yourself on the receiving end of criticism like this. But what you do with that criticism determines your longevity and credibility. Our company remaining in this ever-changing, subjective space for 26+ years is the direct result of listening to criticism like this and figuring out how we can use it to transform everything we do for the better, including our brand efforts.
OUR FOUR THINGS TO REMEMBER WHEN STARTING A BRANDING PROJECT
Here are some words of earned wisdom we always keep in mind when working on branding efforts for our clients:
- Question Everything
Make sure the thing you want to change should be changed. Sometimes, what you think isn’t working is actually what makes you uniquely you.
- Quality in = quality out
We’ll never fully know what kind of direction (if any) that the Kroger team gave their agency. But if the input wasn’t strong, it’s the agency’s responsibility as creative experts and stewards for that brand to challenge their assumptions, and provide stronger alternatives. Good input = good output. It’s as simple as that.
- Look around. A lot.
Research is a cornerstone of everything we do. When it comes to creating or refreshing your brand identity, research helps us see what the competition is up to, understand how major success is being achieved, and if there are opportunities to set yourself apart in the field.
- Brand Is More Than Just A Mark
If you wind up in a situation where your logo redesign doesn’t achieve the public goodwill you were hoping for, don’t worry. The good news is, your logo is just one part of your brand. And while it’s maybe the most obvious and visible, it’s not the most powerful. That honor belongs to your brand promise. As long as you continue to deliver on that, you’re golden.
Want help with your next branding effort, or need more info on how to talk about it with your team? Drop us a line!