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A Logo in a Logo = the New Logo?

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Scenario: Your client is a large retailer, Cooper's Pharmacopia. Among their customer group, they are very well known and established. They have done a good job of consistently branding themselves. Both their logo and tagline achieve high marks on recall research. They are the market leader.

They have also "owned" a signature event for the past five years. It has its own name and logo identity, with equally high recognition. It is one of the premiere events for their industry. Neither the name or logo of the event sound or look like Cooper's Pharmacopia. But most attendees would be very clear that they sponsor the event.
They just got a new marketing director. Your new client. He would like you to take the event logo (it's round) and merge it into the company's logo by replacing one of the o's in Cooper's Pharmacopia with the event logo. That would become the new event logo.
Question: From a strategic point of view (not if the round logo looks good as an o) what is your response?
Should you take an established "sub brand" and blend it with the corporate brand? Or, should the parent company and the sub branded event each retain their own identity?
Which strategy strengthens both the company and the event's brand?

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Drew McLellan's a 25+ year marketing agency veteran who lives for creating "a ha" moments for his clients, clients' customers, peers and audiences across the land. Sadly, for his daughter, he attempts to do the same thing at home.

Drew’s favorite tools for creating these moments are vivid story telling, Italian heritage inspired hand gestures and the occasional tipping of a sacred cow.

Over the years, Drew has lent his expertise to clients like Nabisco, IAMS pet foods, Kraft Foods, Meredith Publishing, John Deere, Iowa Health System, Make-A-Wish, and a wide array of others.

Drew writes at his own blog, Drew’s Marketing Minute and several other hot spots.

He’s written the book 99.3 Random Acts of Marketing, co-editing the Age of Conversation series of books with Gavin Heaton and he launched his own firm McLellan Marketing Group in 1995.

Recently he has appeared in the New York Times, Entrepreneur Magazine, Business Week and Fortune’s Small Business. The Wall Street Journal calls him one of 10 bloggers that every entrepreneur should read.

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  • by Lewis Green Thu Jun 28, 2007 via blog

    Drew, Once brands are established, and from my reading the ones you discuss are, I urge my clients to avoid changing their logos. While logos do not equal brand, they are a visual element that people respond to emtionally. If that response is positive, don't mess with it.

  • by Nic Darling Thu Jun 28, 2007 via blog

    I agree with Lewis. What is the intended result of the logo change? What does the client hope to accomplish? I would need a pretty good reason to mess with a working logo.

  • by Drew McLellan Thu Jun 28, 2007 via blog

    Lewis and Nic -- So if your client wanted to blend the logos -- what would you say/what rationale would you use to discourage this idea? Let's say he is suggesting this shift because: They want to do something fresh. They are bored with the current logos. AND They believe the combined awareness/esteem of each could be coupled to make the new "combo" even more well known. Drew

  • by Jillian Kay Thu Jun 28, 2007 via blog

    I would attempt to persuade the client against the change. With the commercialization of so many events and other innocent affairs, the public is a bit weary of having to constantly use brand names when referring to stadiums, galas, and festivals. In effect, it cheapens the events. Keeping with the current logo and branding is a classier way to go, in my opinion. It keeps the focus on the event, maintains a high-end appearance, and reflects well on the company. However, compromises may be possible. Could you change only the colors of the logo, to match that of the company logo? Could you place additional (or more prominent) "sponsored by" notices on programs, tickets, and signs? Could you decorate using company colors or shapes that resemble the company logo? Also, I would want to know the driving factor behind the change. Perhaps better understanding the underlying issue to solve will result in the best solution.

  • by Mack Collier Thu Jun 28, 2007 via blog

    Bad idea. Both brands have strength rooted in different sources, to attempt to combine both of them muddies the waters and dilutes both brands and logos.

  • by Lewis Green Thu Jun 28, 2007 via blog

    What Jillian and Mack said. And if the client insisted, this might be one of those times when we would politely walk away and refer the client to another consultant, because we believe so strongly in brand development not brand change. Freshening up a logo is a lousy reason for changing it. As far as making the new "combo" even more well known, that is akin to spending all our marketing efforts on business development rather than spending a large share of that effort on meeting the needs of our current customers.

  • by Elaine Fogel Thu Jun 28, 2007 via blog

    Although I agree with Lewis, Nic et al, I would have to reserve my judgment until I saw the two logos and understood the overarching marketing strategy. It's interesting that the event logo has its own identity, yet participants know that Cooper's is the main event sponsor. For this segment, there's already recognition that the two identities go together. But what of Cooper's segments? Do their customers realize that the signature event belongs to the parent company? If not, then Cooper's can't capitalize on any potential co-branded recognition.

  • by Drew McLellan Fri Jun 29, 2007 via blog

    Everyone -- Great comments and thinking, thank you. Can any of you think of a real life example where this sort of scenario was actually tried? Did it work or bomb? Drew

  • by Tim Fri Jun 29, 2007 via blog

    Can any of you think of a real life example where this sort of scenario was actually tried? Did it work or bomb? Bombed, and the company was stuck with a logo attached to an event which had changed direction and become irrelevant to the initial idea. It's like having a website with info from 2002. People think you are either closed or cheap.

  • by Elaine Fogel Fri Jun 29, 2007 via blog

    Drew, I had one experience that was a nightmare, although somewhat different. The organization held an annual signature event and asked a different designer to create a new logo each year! Isn't that the antithesis of branding? :)

  • by Steve Woodruff Sat Jun 30, 2007 via blog

    Overall, looks like very little to gain, and plenty to lose, by trying to mess with the branding. It's one thing to "play around" a bit when something is new to the market. But once you've got that brand recognition embedded, you'd better have an awfully good reason to make a drastic change. Don't see one here...

  • by Mark True Sat Jun 30, 2007 via blog

    I agree with the comments here...if it ain't broke, don't fix it. And I'd remind the NEW marketing director that the customers aren't tired of the old fact, they have great value. Then I'd share with him some great logos that haven't been touched for a long time. Finally, I'd work on amazing ways to integrate the company logo and colors into the experience that is the event. Hopefully, the colors of the event logo and the corporate logo can work together. The even logo just has to get them to the event...then the corporate logo can take over. ...just my .02 worth. -Mark

  • by Drew McLellan Sun Jul 1, 2007 via blog

    Tim, An interesting perspective I hadn't thought about. What if the event becomes stale? Now you have tied your corporate identity to that stale event. That ups the ante, doesn't it? Drew

  • by Drew McLellan Sun Jul 1, 2007 via blog

    Elaine, The Iowa State Fair does the exact same RFP every year for a new logo et al. I agree, it is everything that branding is not. I can't think of an instance where doing that would be an advantage...can you? Drew

  • by Drew McLellan Sun Jul 1, 2007 via blog

    Steve, I'm curious...can you give me a couple examples of what a big enough reason would be to alter a well-established brand? Besides a name change/ownership change...what else is there? Drew

  • by Drew McLellan Sun Jul 1, 2007 via blog

    Mark, I knew a brand warrior like you would have a clear opinion on this. I'm hard pressed to see any good that can come out of this situation if the new marketing director's request is granted. Can you? The costs would be substantial in terms of brand equity lost, wouldn't you say? Drew

  • by Elaine Fogel Mon Jul 2, 2007 via blog

    Drew, I can't think of one. Creating a new logo each year defeats the purpose of brand recognition. Yikes.

  • by Tim Tue Jul 3, 2007 via blog

    That ups the ante, doesn't it? It's a useless risk. I'm personally for putting a logo on a dozen smaller events than being attached to one big event anyway because of the risk of becoming synonymous with it anyway. This is just my experience. Going the whole nine yards and not only being associated with the event but and wanting to melt your logo into it seems a little careless.

  • by terry Tue Jul 3, 2007 via blog

    Logos that change without harm to the brand ... MTV the Olympics If you know the logo is supposed to change, it's something to look forward to/watch for. It works for you (unless everyone hates the [temporary] logo). Random logo changes for the sake of change work against you.

  • by Sheryl Thu Jul 12, 2007 via blog

    I believe Coca-cola has used the same logo since the last century, and has never found a good reason to change it. I'm betting some of their folks are bored with it by now, but they recognize the value of it. Pretty solid branding, wouldn't you agree?

  • by Ron Thu Jul 12, 2007 via blog

    The Olympics is a good example. New logo every time, and it's almost always hideous (along with the mascot). See the logo for London 2012 and you'll know what I mean. Yet the 5 rings Olympic logo is iconic.

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