The recent hubbub over the Tropicana packaging change shines a light on
several marketing myths. Take note so you don’t make the same mistakes with
Tropicana brand background
Tropicana is a 60-year-old brand. Originally the company sold gift boxes of oranges, but looking for something to do with the smaller fruit that went to waste they got into the frozen concentrate business. But that category was well established and Tropicana was just another brand.
The key event that really built the Tropicana brand came in 1954. Not satisfied with being just another player in the concentrate category, the company pioneered a flash pasteurization method that raised the temperature of the freshly squeezed orange juice for a very short time, extending the juice’s shelf life to three months while maintaining its flavor. Tropicana then dropped the frozen concentrate product and focused entirely on the fresh, "not-from-concentrate" product.
Being first in a new category is the key to success. Tropicana got into the mind with a great name and built a new category. Tropicana owns not-from-concentrate in the mind and is the "real thing" in fresh orange juice. With the success of Tropicana, eventually the majority of the market for orange juice moved from frozen to fresh.
Today, Tropicana remains the dominant brand and the world leader in chilled orange juice. Since the original entrepreneur sold the company in the 1970’s, there have been several owners. Since 1998, PepsiCo has owned the brand.
Last month, PepsiCo introduced a major overhaul of the Tropicana packaging. Which was done after PepsiCo Chairman-CEO Indra Nooyi announced the company would embark on a sweeping revamp of all its brands. To be changed: "every aspect of the brand proposition: how they look, how they’re packaged, how they will be merchandised on the shelves and how they connect with consumers."
What? Is she crazy? Apparently. The last thing PepsiCo should do is totally redo all of its brands. The new Pepsi logo that is a little too close to Obama’s logo hasn’t been very well received. And results for Tropicana have been disastrous.
In just a few short weeks after the packaging change, the company bowed to consumer outrage and scrapped the Tropicana changes. The previous packaging will be brought back and Arnell will finally be humbled (this part of course I doubt.)
Unfortunately, the company will continue the advertising campaign by Arnell that accompanied the new packaging look. The tagline is "Squeeze. It’s a natural." Squeeze? That is not language that consumers would ever use. Tropicana should have remained focused on fresh not from concentrate orange juice.
"Squeeze" is a typical campaign that left-brain management loves. Management values cleverness in advertising. Advertising campaigns that are clever and new appeal to left-brainers. You see squeeze is used as a double-entendre in the ads. The advertisement are filled with people hugging. Peter Arnell says the campaign is all about love. Love? The worst part is there is not an orange in sight in any of the ads. How clever indeed! Reminds me of the Saturn ads with no cars.
Right-brain marketing values credentials in advertising. Advertising that is
relevant, familiar and consistent is what works best at reinforcing a brand in
the consumer’s mind.
Now that you know the background, let’s debunk some enduring marketing myths:
It is the product not the brand that consumers care about. Wrong.
Consumers care about brands. The brand is what gives the product its authenticity and credibility. The brand includes everything from the name, the look, the logo, the color and the package.
When you change the look of the packaging, you lose some of the power of the brand in the mind. It no longer looks authentic. And worse, consumers think you have also changed the contents.
"We underestimated the deep emotional bond consumers had with the original packaging," said the President of Tropicana. Consumers weren’t attached to the packaging! Consumers are attached to the Tropicana brand. And it didn't feel like their Tropicana brand when you changed the packaging. The packaging is the visual that signals the brand’s familiarity in the mind.
Suppose Coca-Cola changed its classic bottle. It would be a disaster. In
fact, Coca-Cola has been aggressively increasing its use of that bottle imagery on cans, cups,
and billboards to reinforce its brand. Good move.
The verbal is more powerful than the visual. Wrong.
Both are necessary and should complement each other. One of the worst things about the Tropicana redesign was the loss of the iconic orange and straw. It was a powerful visual that reinforced the fresh, not-from-concentrate idea in the mind. Instead they used the words “100% orange” on the containers. Bad move. But typical of left-brain management that thinks verbally rather than visually.
The strongest brands have powerful visuals that reinforce the brands in the mind.
Marlboro – Cowboys
KFC –Colonel Sanders
Pizza Hut – Red Roof
AT&T - globe
McDonald's - golden arches
Brands need constant change to keep up with consumers. Wrong.
Strong brands should not make radical changes. Leading brands in particular should be wary of change.
(Of course, if nobody knows your brand, you can change it as much as you want.)
Occasionally (like once a decade or two) brands may need some slight changes and updates. But only very infrequently and very subtly. The changes should be ones that few people even notice.
And sometimes it is a good idea not to change at all. Jack Daniels is proud of the fact it never changes. In fact, it is the theme of its advertising. “Not subject to change, not now, not ever.”
If your brand is facing an uncertain future because of a declining category, it might be better to launch a new brand. You can’t change a brand radically in the mind anyway. Think Kodak.
Here are some classic logo changes that kept the brand’s authenticity but made slight changes to keep the look current.
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