Respect the Brand

Companies spend hella money to come up with their branding. What's the brand's personality? Point of view? Tone? Colours? Logo? Feel? They have brand guidelines and rule books that are as big as encyclopedias sometimes that outline exactly how every part of their brand should look, feel and exist in the world - online, in print, direct mail, TV, radio, everything, everywhere. They hire lawyers to make sure their brand is being properly represented and portrayed. They have brand strategists who decide how, when and where the brand lives. They spend years and millions of dollars making sure they stand out and they create a recognisable and iconic brand.

And then in comes some creative wannabe who ignores all of that and makes a Heinz campaign with shades of blue or decides that American Express should sound like a frat boy on Spring break.


Part of you showing you're ready for the ad world is showing you know how to think strategically and work with an established brand.

Sure, if you make up Joey's Spicy Ketchup or work on a local, little known bank in your hometown, then run wild - create something awesome and add as much blue and attitude as you want. But when it comes to working with well-known brands, show some respect.

Feel free to reach out to a new target market, but still stay in line with the established brand's ideals. Feel free to do product improvements or expansions, or create new uses -- all I'm saying is, show that you know how to take something old and add something new - without disrespecting or destroying what you started with.

I was inspired to write this after checking out Brand Spirit - where the author is painting a different branded object white every day for the next 100 days.

Without branding, can you tell what products these are?

Without branding, what's the difference between Coke and Pepsi? Heinz and Hunts? Crest and Colgate? Chicken of the Sea and Starkist?

It's our job as advertisers to take brands to a higher level, to create differences in people's minds, to forge imaginary relationships between people and brands.

And it's your job as a student to learn that, appreciate that, and most importantly, respect that.