Friday, 24 April 2009

Lost by Design 1


Wall's Ice Cream. It's what we had to go with our cling peaches for Sunday tea. A treat in the shape of a cardboard box bought from the van on a hot afternoon. The cream and blue vanilla packaging, the tricolour Neapolitan, the bountiful lettering. All were what we now call feelgood factors. And outside the post office in the village street and on wooden shacks behind the sand dunes there would be a sign. Shield-shaped and with a row of vertical blue stripes at the top that were like a shop sunblind on a sunny day. I tried to find an example to show you, but I'm sure you know what I mean. And then I saw the Wall's sign near the beach at Brancaster. The shed it's on is ok (it has to be, being next to the snooty Royal West Norfolk Golf Club). But what's happened? Every single ounce of pleasure has been rung out of the identity. This isn't a sign for ice cream, it's a sign for a heart foundation. And that's it isn't it? You can hear the presentation: "You see Mr.Wall we can make an ice-creamy sort of swirl look like a heart you see. Which means love, you know, like in 'I (heart shape) NY. And the bonus is it means healthy. And while we're at it we'll get rid of the old lettering in case punters think they're buying sausages". Nostalgia again? Not being what it used to be? I don't think so. Brand values, as I'm sure they say a lot, go further than the Powerpoint presentation. They end up on Norfolk sheds and country brick walls yes, but also as stickers on city fridges and corner shop windows. A truly great brand deserves better than this. Something more long lasting than a here-today-melted-tomorrow marketing document.

24 comments:

Sue said...

Oh dear, don't get me started on all those global swirls and swooshes. It's like the BP example in your book - everything reduced to the lowest common denominator so that we're presenting "a consistent global image." A friend of mine - also in the marketing business - once remarked that "only liars need to be consistent".

Peter Ashley said...

Mmm. I like the phrase. Lowest common denominator is what it now appears to be all about. Bring back the Mobil flying horse. In fact, what happened to Mobil? Is it still with us, or has it gone the way of National Benzole and BP meaning British Petroleum instead of the fatuous Beyond Petrol? Should call it BB- Beyond Belief.

Jon Dudley said...

Bring back the Mobil Gargoyle!...maybe not. Even back in those days they struggled with identities, although Pegasus was a far better subsequent choice than what looks like a piece of red dog poo in the Gargoyle incarnation.

That lovely bulbous scripted 'W' of Walls...sausages or ice cream bricks, it represented something yummy for tea. And ooh, that ice cream plucked from a cream coloured refrigerator with sides about 6 feet thick restricting its contents to 10 items, was wrapped in old copies of The News Chronicle and rushed home as fast as your little legs would take you.

'Walls' is clearly of no real importance in this typically mediocre piece of modern branding, the space it occupies can be taken by any of its worlwide fellow travellers no matter what they make, and stands for absolutely nothing at all. It will be sad indeed when in many years from now an Unmitigated Englander snaps some remnant of ancient signage in Brancaster only to discover that identical examples exist virtually anywhere in the world. Except that because the sign was digitally printed on some solar degradable plastic it will long since have vanished. Enamel, that's the stuff!

Max Potter said...

The heart-shaped logo is the multinational Unilever's "Heartbrand", which has flattened out dozens of European icecream makers over the years: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unilever#Heartbrand.

I particularly miss the Swedish brand "GB"...only one or two of its original products have survived.

Vinogirl said...

I'm with you...that logo is hideous!

DC said...

Excerpts from the link kindly supplied by Max Potter tell us all we need to know and adds Walls - if it still needed to be added - to the list of things that "they" have ruined and to which we should seek out local alternatives.

If you dislike a mix of marketing-balls and multinational-corp cynicism, have a sickbag handy...

"The Heartbrand was launched...as an effort to increase international brand awareness and promote cross-border synergies in manufacturing and marketing ... It is present in more than 40 countries. Although the logo is common worldwide, each country retained the local brand so as to keep the familiarity built over the years..."

Diplomate said...

'nuff said - agree with all of that, well done, carry on

Peter Ashley said...

Goodness me, he says, desparately wanting to say something else. I'd no idea how utterly crap it all was, this 'heartbrand' stuff. And to think I was labouring under the massive illusion that somehow there was a letter 'w' in there. I feel so strongly about all this I feel another book coming on. So strongly it might get written this weekend.

Bucks Retronaut said...

Haven`t the originators of the new logo tacitly admitted it`s crap, by putting what amounts to a translation ,explanation, or even apology. underneath in adding the product name.(in case punters might not be able to work it out for themselves?).

ChrisP said...

Multinationals are always desperate to establish universal branding, regardless of the danger that if one of their subsidiaries in some god-forsaken part of the globe gets up to no good, the whole brand can get contaminated. Think Nike and child slave labour, or Nestle forcing formula milk down third world babies.
Serves the buggers right.

Circe said...

Wow. I read this earlier but ran out of time for my intended commentary on my long time local dairy store's ("High's") near extinction and worse... but really. Now I'm just bummed out.

Eye opening.

Everyone, yes. Buy locally. For all the green reasons, and to save our local nostalgic institutions and Mom & Pop businesses.

To cheer us, perhaps you'd like to check out this "funny" for the weekend, from one of my favorite blog ladies. Be sure to add the music... stir carefully. Freeze overnight.

http://milk-moon.blogspot.com/2009/04/something-lovely-for-weekend.html


Happy Weekend, Peter.

Diplomate said...

STOP PRESS - I've just opened a cupboard in the kitchen at Diplo Hall and discovered the new Marmite "delivery system". That's it - I'm off to live in Australia in the knowledge that Milo, Vegemite and the rest are safe.

Ron Combo said...

Walls in Italy is branded Algida which always puts me in mind of a swimming pool chemical product. Which is probably about right. Same logo 'though. Sadly, some Italians buy the stuff. There are, of course, lots of local makers, one of whom, Canelin, only produce from May to September. Just lovely stuff. I also recall Hockin's of North Devon who used to be one of the few rays of sunshine when they visited with their Morris J type rhubarb and cream liveried van during cricket matches at at St. Custard's. "Oh for God's sake Combo, pitch the ball up boy!"

Bucks Retronaut said...

And Saits Dairy Ice Cream from the van on the prom at Bognor ,with Emily Lloyd from `Wish You Were Here`in a flared skirt, sitting on the nearby railings and a light breeze....and ...and..(That`s quite enough! Ed).

Thud said...

Logo's now are infantile and simplistic....spirit of the age it seems.As for ice cream,invest in an ice cream maker and some freshly pureed fruit.

Bucks Retronaut said...

So seeing that we all seem to know the words ,could "The Village Green Preservation Society" [The Kinks, 1968] be adopted as this blog`s Corporate Jingle please, Mr Ashley ?

All together now.....!

Philip Wilkinson said...

Wow - turn my back for a few hours and all these comments. The logo is terrible - and the sign on which it sits is awful too: mean typography, unhappy relationship between 'heart' symbol and the oval. Dear, dear.

Ron - the idea of Italians buying this stuff, when there's such glorious indigenous ice cream there beggars belief. And I nearly didn't say 'beggars'.

On a more wholesome note, growing up in Gloucestershire I remember the Wall's ice cream factory just outside Gloucester, its rippling north-lit roof seemingly imitative of the form of the product made inside. It was once the biggest ice cream factory in the world. The building's still there but I'm not sure what goes on there now. Perhaps it's a van depot - sorry, logistics centre.

Fred Fibonacci said...

Whilst on the subject of ice cream, just, can anyone tell me why ice cream cones are called 'oakeys' in Leicestershire? I didn't understand when I was seven, and I don't understand now, when I'm not.

So nice to stop by Peter; nothing like a bit of brand rage to pass the time.

Philip Wilkinson said...

Oakeys? Is that anything to do with 'Oakey poky, penny a lump, that's the stuff to make you jump'? Just asking.

Toby Savage said...

Hit the nail on the head Philip. The Hokey Pokey man. I should know as I was one during my summers hols from Art College. Suncrean Dairies. They still exist in Tamworth. I drove a heavy Austin van with a wind up chime. The drum brakes were all 'leading shoe' and hopeless hurtling backwards down hill.

Fred Fibonacci said...

Well I'm glad that's cleared up. A million thanks; and can I have a flake with that?

Peter Ashley said...

When I saw the name 'Askey' blind embossed on cones and wafers I just assumed my dad had got it wrong when he said "Let's have an oakey".

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