About Me

John Fahy is the Professor of Marketing in the University of Limerick and Adjunct Professor of Marketing at the University of Adelaide. He is an award winning author and speaker on marketing issues around the world.

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Entries in brand management (5)


When To Change Your Logo!

If you are a start-up enterprise how much time and money should you invest in developing a corporate logo? If you already have a well-established logo should you devote some time to refreshing it or making it more contemporary? Let’s begin answering those questions by testing how aware you are of some major logo changes that have taken place in the past year. For example, did you spot Microsoft’s change of logo from,


to this,


The new logo was launched in August 2012 to coincide with the introduction of new products such as Windows 8 and the Surface tablet. The four coloured squares are intended to symbolise the company’s broad portfolio of products. Did you get that the first time you saw it? The change proved controversial - some saw the new logo as better and friendlier, others as boring or a missed opportunity. What we don’t know is how many people did not notice the change at all!


Of course some are much more subtle. I wonder how many fans of Twitter noticed this slight change made to Larry in June last year?


Old logo


New logo


Yes you weren’t the only one to miss that one. Or how about this one for Jaguar.


Old logo


New logo


This was touted as the most extensive change made to Jaguar’ visual identification in 40 years. Really? I suspect the majority of car owners missed it completely.


Some people get incredibly exercised about both about logo design and logo changes. Yet few things are more cringe worthy that listening to executives going on about how a logo change symbolises a brand’s brave move into new frontiers and markets. Any decision to change a logo should be carefully evaluated to see if there are substantive reasons for doing so. Too often it is a bad substitute for effective brand management as illustrated by farcical changes such as Gap’s new logo in 2011 which ultimately led to the departure of the executive responsible for the mess.


So if you are a start-up, it is worth putting some time into careful development of the logo. Try to make sure it is simple, different, visual and globally transferable. Nike, Apple, Facebook, Shell and Playboy are the templates. After that, keep the changes to a minimum. The quality of your brand management will have a much bigger impact on the global recognition of your logo than any aesthetic changes that might be deemed necessary from time to time.





Is Porsche's Gamble Paying Off?

Moving from a focused marketing strategy to a differentiated approach is one of the trickiest strategic changes for brands to pull off but Porsche appears to be doing it admirably well. Originally known for producing sleek looking, high performance sports cars aimed at wealthy male drivers, the brand has been gradually expanding beyond these confines for the past ten years or so. Its sports utility vehicle, the Cayenne launched in 2004 has been an unprecedented success and this was followed by a four-seater, luxury sedan, the Panamera in 2009, targeting the executive market.



All the while, sales of its venerable two-seater, the 911, were suffering – increasingly being squeezed out of the sports car segment by brands like Maserati and Lamborghini. So in 2011, Porsche took its biggest gamble yet by trying the re-position the 911 in the United States as an everyday vehicle with its Engineered for Magic campaign. In it the brand presented somewhat conflicting claims by saying that it was a car designed with a singular purpose, yet it managed to achieve so much more – namely, be a school bus and a pick-up truck!!


Despite the apparent implausibility of these messages, the campaign appears to have worked. It set a new sales record of over 35,000 vehicles in the US, a twenty one per cent year-on-year increase. While the core of its sales growth came from the Cayenne, the 911 also showed gains. Globally, the picture is even better with the brand hitting record sales levels of over 129,000 units by the end of November 2012 helped in no small way by the huge popularity of the Cayenne in China. And it looks as though its transition from niche road car maker to mainstream luxury car brand is set to continue with a smaller version SUV and further diesel and hybrid variants planned.   


However, increasing sales (and overall profit levels) are coming at a price. Return on sales slipped to 18.7% in 2012 from 20% the previous year though the company appears to be willing to tolerate a fall to 15% as it expands its unit sales.