–Susan Perera, Attorney

Do these containers seem similar to you? Confusingly similar?

That is what Coca-Cola, owner of Simply Orange, is claiming.  In a recently filed trade dress and patent infringement suit Coca-Cola claims that its Simply Orange container is nonfunctional, contains a patented closure lid, and the new Trop50 packaging is likely to deceive

by James Mahoney, Creative director/writer at Razor’s Edge Communications

What does a 42-year-old military offensive have to do with branding and social media? Quite a bit, as it happens. Consider four seemingly unrelated situations:

First, clothing purveyor Gap experienced an alleged misadventure recently when it unveiled a "new logo" on its website, only to reinstate the old logo a week later in the face of withering online vilification.

Second, Tropicana experienced a real misadventure when the company jettisoned its venerable and valuable "straw in an orange" for a new look and identity. That disastrous move was reversed in the face of actual withering response: a precipitous sales drop that validated the hue and cry.

Third, a few years ago, The Wall Street Journal revamped its look and feel. As change like this always does, this generated initial resistance in the readership, who had to recalibrate their familiarity with the paper. But the change was durable and the transition period short. Since then, the WSJ has continued to successfully tinker with the design and content.

Fourth, history students, and those of us old enough, will be familiar with the 1968 Tet Offensive of the Vietnam War. For others, here’s a brief description: At a critical moment in that war, the North Vietnamese launched simultaneous attacks across South Vietnam during the normal New Year’s armistice. While the offensive was a resounding and crippling military defeat for North Vietnam*, it was perceived as a convincing victory for them by the American public, whose only points of reference were frightening scenes of bloody combat in near-realtime on our living room TVs, and commentary in the media.

So, what’s the connection? All four were abrupt events that dislocated a status quo. All four involved branding and media, social and otherwise. Two were successful; two weren’t.


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A couple of days ago, Brandweek featured an interview of Peter Clarke, CEO and founder of Product Ventures, a Fairfield, Connecticut design firm that has created packaging for Heinz, Folgers and Febreze, among other brands:

Brandweek: You believe that packaging has become simpler of late. Can you describe what you mean by that?

Puffing, according to Black’s Law Dictionary, is defined as:

The expression of an exagerrated opinion — as opposed to a factual representation — with the intent to sell a good or service.

Puffing, as a legal principle, has recently received a fair amount of attention as a result of Domino’s new ad campaign. 

Puffing generally

Mark Image

In November, I wrote about how Gatorade’s 2009 re-branding as G has been a complete failure. G was an ill-conceived approach to slowing sales in 2007 and 2008. It damaged brand equity, confused consumers and didn’t reverse the trend of falling unit sales.

In the final paragraph of my last blog, I noted that PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi said the company is planning a “massive Gatorade transformation” for 2010. I recommended that Gatorade should follow the model of Coca-Cola when they decided to retire New Coke. By doing this, Coca-Cola admitted their mistake and moved on by hitting the reset button on their brand.

Initial details of PepsiCo’s 2010 “massive Gatorade transformation” have been made publicly known here, here and here. Gatorade’s brand strategy for 2010 seems mediocre. Although they are making some positive changes, other moves indicate that they still don’t understand how to successfully market their brand.


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Dear Coke:

I love you. You are an incredible product. You are the Babe Ruth of soft drinks, the proprietor of the word “cola,” and most of all, the brand of all brands. Your brand is not just bulletproof; it’s indestructible—even from self-inflicted damage.

Interbrand, the global branding giant, recently valued you at