By Dana Koman
The concept of branding began, most notably, with ranchers and their cattle. The idea of creating a unique, ownable symbol throughout history has withstood the test of time. Branding, more than ever, is an essential commodity in today’s market.
For example, the Nike “swoosh” is synonymous with sports, athleticism and Michael Jordan. The McDonald’s Golden Arches are universally recognized across the globe for reliable, consistent and affordable fast food. And Starbucks practically invented the coffeehouse culture we know today in the United States.
As companies with humble beginnings, we wanted to explore the history of these global giants and discuss how we, Tepino, a South-Florida based creative branding agency, can help you achieve success too.
Before there was the Nike “swoosh,” there was Blue Ribbon Sports – created by an Oregon collegiate track coach and a mid-distance runner hoping to provide low-cost, quality running shoes as an alternative in the German-dominant market. In fact, in the mid 1960’s, BRS shoes were sold from a van at college track meets. It wasn’t until the early 1970’s that the name was changed and a graphic design student created the swoosh – a bargain design for a whopping $35.
With the patented waffle sole, catchy marketing and a major celebrity endorsement, Nike solidified its place in society as the must-have athletic shoe of the century by the 1980’s.
Nike’s name, after the Greek goddess of victory, and simple yet memorable “swoosh” set it apart from its competitors early on. In fact, it’s an excellent example of branding in its finest. The swoosh is not overly complicated or messy. It’s fluid, refined and sophisticated. Nike’s targeted market helped the brand create an ownable identity in a specific industry.
McDonalds founder Ray Kroc met two brothers, Mac and Dick McDonald, who streamlined their restaurant by focusing on only a few keys items – burgers, fries and beverages. Kroc took this concept and created the three-legged stool business model made up of franchisees, suppliers and employees – all serving consistent food that tastes and looks the same from Alaska to Alabama.
From a branding standpoint, we recognize that business strategy is not one-size-fits-all. In fact, what works well for McDonald’s may not be successful for Starbucks.
The Starbucks’ internal business model is called the “third place.” People have their home, office and Starbucks, a place for networking, people watching, relaxation and great coffee. The idea behind the third place is to provide consumers with the everyday comforts of both work and home.
Although these are only three examples of success in branding, they’re important because of their roots – starting out small. Even Starbucks began as a single store in 1971 before launching its first coffeehouse and selling its first latte 13 years later.
Along with focused strategy, successful companies harness the power of branding with their identity. The golden arches, for example, are likened to Nike in that they’re simple and refined. One may not think sophistication when it comes to McDonalds, but their iconic logo is exactly that, in addition to being unique and ownable.
Over time, Starbucks simplified its logo, which began as a less-sophisticated, brown label. As the company grew and evolved, so did its identity. In fact, in 2011, Starbucks ditched its name from the logo entirely and what we see today is a simple, refined green and white mermaid with a pleasant face that screams designer, luxury coffee.
At Tepino, we aim to break the mold. We recognize that everyone cannot simply create, but first must explore your business, research the industry and then apply the creative depths of the imagination to deliver the best product possible.
Great brands impact the world, make a statement and deliver a trusting relationship with their customers and enthusiasts. Nike started as one shoe and evolved overtime to what it is today – an athletic apparel giant. Their success wasn’t just because of their name or logo, but a combination of factors that helped them stand out, create a following and cement the brand into the minds of consumers who love sports, performance and competition.
The right creative and strategic ideas help provide that lift that can propel a brand beyond a product to be sold into a fabric of our culture – and the value of that is virtually priceless.