Throwback Packaging and Logos as Brands

There seems to be a lot of throw-back packaging making the rounds out there, from Pepsi to Tide, a lot of companies are getting into it. While it’s pretty fun to see and brings back some childhood nostalgia, this little fad illustrates a nice point: Your logo is really not your brand.

See, your brand is much bigger than an icon or a set of colors on a box. It encompasses far more than that. Your brand is the collections of feelings and perceptions you’d like people to see in your company or product. It is also the feelings and perceptions people actually feel about your brand. That’s a lot of stuff, but what it isn’t is a trade dress or an icon or anything else. This is why Doritos can dress their products in throwbacks, tossing aside mastheads and current brand marks while getting more interest without loosing anything, while crappy companies keep ‘re-branding’ themselves with new identity, hoping for more customers to no effect, as people notice that they haven’t changed their business practices.

To be a bit more specific, people know that Doritos makes really tasty chips and always have. They know that it doesn’t matter what the bag looks like as long as it says Doritos and they can make out that the triangular chips. The quality, taste and consistency of the product is Doritos’s brand. The logo doesn’t make it good, the company behind it and their actions does. The logo and trade dress are only a reminder and a method to drive interest, as well as to serve the distinction between Doritos and competitors.

Don’t get me wrong, trade dress and logos are important, but their only important when your company is consistently upholding it’s brand promise in all aspects. Otherwise, your brand mark is a lighthouse that signals, “stay away, rocky shores ahead!”

One Reply to “Throwback Packaging and Logos as Brands”

  1. I think you’re you’re missing a couple of KEY points about why Doritos is able to temporarily put aside its current brandmark and package to go retro with this product throwback.

    Yes, I agree that a brand is so much more than its look (in this case package and brandmark). Yet, Doritos previously did, and still does have equity in their old brandmark, otherwise this wouldn’t work. As a Dorito loving consumer from the 80’s & 90’s, I remember the previous brandmark, and seeing it again at shelf (with the original Taco Flavor) brings back all sorts of fond memories. Including those which Doritos was a part in.

    Second, the entire brand didn’t go retro. This throwback is product AND package, and is on shelf next to their current products. If one of their latest flavors (like 2nd degree burn fiery buffalo) tried to go retro, it wouldn’t work. Not because of your reasoning above about no value in the brandmark, but because a retro version for a new flavor wouldn’t be authentic and credible.

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