Tuesday, December 23, 2008

New Pepsi logo and font: What went wrong

If you confuse the the new Pepsi logo and packaging with a store brand, it's understandable.

It is an ambitious effort to re-brand a line of products such as this, but perhaps PepsiCo over-thought the effort. Nike has brilliantly made its symbol synonymous with its corporate name, but I don't foresee this happening with Pepsi. The company should revisit the brand and start with the typography, and hope that the consumer smiles when they say "Pepsi," instead of trying to own the smile and hoping that the consumer thinks of Pepsi when they smile.

The new Pepsi brand has the look of and creates the perception of a store brand, and here's why:

The visual symbol: The familiar red and blue circle has been replaced by a mark that seems inspired by animé or aerospace. Under Consideration compares them side-by-side, with quotes from Ad Age and BVNet:
"The brand's blue and red globe trademark will become a series of "smiles," with the central white band arcing at different angles depending on the product."
While the intent may have been sincere, it's poorly executed (what consumer is going to notice that each brand has a different angle?) Perhaps each bottle will soon include a legend to let the consumer know what the smile means. Perhaps the last three years of election cycle rubbed off on the brand as well, with its similarity to the Obama campaign logo.

The typography: The Pepsi logo, set in lower case, alludes to vintage typography (disco anyone?) while trying to be modern. Stem and stroke weights differ, and joins bloat. This lettering was possible accomplished with a Rapid-o-graph pen, straight edge and circle template. It reflects years of amateur-looking type design in the packaging and advertising industry, and reminds me of type downloaded from a free font site.

The color palette: Eeeeew. It's not friendly, it makes me wonder if I'd actually enjoying drinking what's in the bottle. It's depressing. The entire dark palette of colors on the packaging seems to infer that PepsiCo is taking itself much too seriously.

The packaging: some of the comments at Under Consideration suggest that the new small bottles have similarities to, well, other objects. While the design of two-liter bottles (show here) don't change much, the wrapper combines all of the shortcomings of symbol, color and typography into a tired-looking design.

Who's thirsty? ;-)

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Lessons to learn, or how to think about our economy

Ladies and gentlemen, please take note: It is not The End of The World as We Know It, nor is the sky falling. At least not yet.

Talk to many business owners or officers, and they are tired of the constant barrage of dour predictions and glum faces telling them that economically, there is no hope for our future. Especially those whose businesses are thriving.

Positiveeconomicnews.com carries a poll, showing that 44% of its readers are "concerned but optimistic" about the economic future (including this writer). And it notes that consumer confidence is up for the second month in a row (U of Michigan/Reuters) (lesson to learn: don't use only one poll to base your opinions on). If you're obsessive about consumer confidence, you can monitor it at the Conference Board.
"Consumers' short-term outlook was less pessimistic. Those anticipating business conditions to worsen over the next six months declined to 28.1 percent from 36.5 percent, while those expecting conditions to improve rose to 11.4 percent from 9.6 percent.

The outlook for the labor market was also less negative. The percent of consumers anticipating fewer jobs in the months ahead declined to 33.3 percent from 41.5 percent, while those expecting more jobs increased to 9.2 percent from 7.3 percent. The proportion of consumers anticipating an increase in their incomes increased to 13.3 percent from 11.1 percent."

Lesson to learn: get your news from the source, and not the media. I know, you'll have to work harder for it, but it's worth it. Trust me.

Small and mid-sized businesses are really the engine of the economy, as noted by strategic thinker Deborah Mills-Scofield:
"Small/mid-sized companies are growth engines of local economics – SBA study issued in June 2008: High-Impact Firms: Gazelles Revisited – updated version of a study they did in the 80’s focused on firms with significant revenue growth and expanding employment."
What is the national economy, but a collection of sub-economies? Lesson to learn: Right now is a time of opportunity and possibility for your business.

So turn off the news, stop reading the dire news, and get back to work. America is depending on you.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

My favorite Christmas CD

Almost 10 years ago, Al Di Meola released Winter Nights, his first, and (AFAIK) only holiday recording. One of my favorites, I've added a few, including Phil Keaggy, Vince Guaraldi, George Winston and Jars of Clay to the Altered Ego store on Amazon.