Taxonomy of Ad Agency Names – Which Brands Get It Right?

January 15, 2013

If ad agencies provide creative and tactical branding services, then it stands to reason that they should be well-branded themselves. That’s not always the case. Often ad agency names are the product of mergers and acquisitions or agencies are named after the founder, which gives the agency brand a boring, stale, and often out-dated image.

Of course, the largest and most successful agencies that grew over time have had opportunities to create their brand images to become the well-known brands that they are today — or have they? It creates an interesting question. Is it time for some ad agencies to rebrand?

The creative team of Rob Donaldson and Joe Dennett put together an infographic that helps put things into perspective. Take a look at the Taxonomy of Advertising Agency Names below, which breaks agency naming conventions down into seven primary categories (in order of popularity):

  1. Founders: Crispin Porter and Bogusky, Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, Carmichael Lynch, and so on
  2. Living things: David & Goliath, Dinosaur, Razorfish, and so on
  3. Inanimate objects: Crayon, Viral Factory, and so on
  4. Places: Gotham Inc., Agency Republic, Hometown, and so on
  5. Physical or metaphysical attributes: Atomic, Dare, Anomaly, and so on
  6. Abstract concepts: Now, Proximity, Karmarama, and so on
  7. Alphanumeric: 4Creative, 101, BBDO, and so on

Many of the ad agency names on the infographic could appear in multiple categories. For example, BBDO is in the Alphanumeric category and the Founders category. While all agencies don’t appear on the infographic, the taxonomy could likely cover just about every ad agency name that you can think of.

Click the image to view the full-size infographic at the source.

Taxonomy of Ad Agency Names Infographicjpg Taxonomy of Ad Agency Names   Which Brands Get It Right?

Which ad agency names do you think are also powerful brand names? Which could use a rebranding? It’s interesting to turn the conversation about the importance of branding back to the agencies that create brands and brand messages for their clients every day. The lesson to learn is this — don’t get stuck in a rut with a brand name that evolved over time and is more cumbersome than valuable.

Image: Rob & Joe

Rebranding for ITV Brings a New Logo Design

November 24, 2012

ITV is trying to find its positioning in the U.K. television market, and a new logo is the first visual element of its recent rebranding effort. In an effort to get away from the conservative logo that has been used since 2006, ITV launched a new colorful logo in a cursive typeface that the company hopes will make the brand seem friendlier. You can see the old and new logos below.

itv logo old and new Rebranding for ITV Brings a New Logo Design

The rebranding will affect all of ITV’s properties and will give each its own “big channel idea” as Andrew Laughlin of Digital Spy reports. For example, ITV2 will become the “home of infectious entertainment” and ITV3 will be the “keeper of ITV’s treasured and timeless drama.” ITV4 will become the “home of sport and cult classics” or “the man club.” CITV will get its own version of the new logo which will be, “yellowy-orange with playful idents that burp and fart and do other things kids love.”

You can see some of the applications of the new logo design below.

itv logo screen application Rebranding for ITV Brings a New Logo Design

itv logo screen application 2 Rebranding for ITV Brings a New Logo Design

The strategy behind the rebranding was explained in a press release that accompanied the logo launch last week:

“In an ever more crowed market place, both domestically and internationally, the need for a modern, flexible brand identity that connects with our viewers and customers has never been more important. We are really excited to soon be unveiling a new identity that is as up-to-date, and relevant as our content. Big, bold and creatively ambitious, it will be true to our DNA as a brand at the heart of popular culture.”

The new logo forms the basis of all ITV’s branding domestically and internationally, and is a warm, bold design based on a formalised version of human handwriting, comprising of five colours, in its static state.

When the logo appears on coloured background, such as marketing images for ITV programmes – it will adapt and change according to the background colour scheme of the image. This colour picking technique means that the logo can be dynamic, shifting tone along with the content, reflecting and blending with the mood of different shows.

Within the ITV broadcast business, the family of UK channels will all have a new on-air look, with ITV2, ITV3, ITV4, and CiTV receiving new colour schemes, clearer brand propositions, and accompanying updated brand identities.

To strengthen affinity between the overall brand, and the network’s flagship channel – ITV1 from January 2013 will be known as simply, ITV.

Constituent sub brands within the ITV main channel will also receive new on-air brand identities and colour schemes, such as ITV News and ITV Sport; and the ITV Player and online estate will also be rebranded.

Overall, this rebranding effort seems to be a positive change. Entertainment brands, particularly television networks, have been moving toward this type of fluid and flexible logo design in recent years, and the ITV rebranding should help to position it against its closest competitors.

What do you think? Leave a comment and share your thoughts on the ITV rebranding and new logo design.

Playing It Safe with the eBay Rebranding

September 14, 2012

Whether or not you’ve ever bought or sold anything through eBay, it’s a brand name that the vast majority of people are aware of. The company’s virtual doors opened in 1995, and its logo remained the same until now. Ebay has launched a new logo (shown below) that will roll out in the fall.

ebay old and new logo Playing It Safe with the eBay Rebranding

Devin Wenig of eBay explains, “Our refreshed logo is rooted in our proud history and reflects a dynamic future. It’s eBay today: a global online marketplace that offers a cleaner, more contemporary and consistent experience, with innovation that makes buying and selling easier and more enjoyable. We retained core elements of our logo, including our iconic color palette. Our vibrant eBay colors and touching letters represent our connected and diverse eBay community — more than 100 million active users and 25 million sellers globally and growing.”

News of the eBay rebranding definitely got my ears perked up. This is a brand that needed a logo overhaul, and it’s a brand that could really think outside the box in its identity creative design.

With Lippincott signed on to create the new eBay brand identity, I couldn’t wait to check out the new logo when it launched. Unfortunately, my excitement ended there. The new logo is a perfect example of playing it safe and avoiding risk at all costs. This happens far too often in brand identity work for large companies where too many cooks spoil the broth and employees worry about job security rather than what’s best for the brand in the long term. Instead of speaking up and pushing the brand in innovative directions, the brand languishes in “safe” territory.

There is nothing wrong with the new eBay logo, it’s just disappointing and reflects a missed opportunity for the company. It looks nice in the conceptual mock-ups of ads and on the Web, but it lacks the “wow” factor many in the branding industry had hoped for.

The lesson to learn is this — don’t play it safe. Extreme risk-aversion means your brand will be mediocre at best.

Seagram’s Rebranding Focuses Sophistication

April 14, 2012

Seagram’s (distributed by the Coca-Cola Company) is known for its Ginger Ale and line of mixers such as club soda, tonic water, and so on. In an effort to differentiate its brand as the choice for sophisticated adult consumers, Seagram’s launched a rebranding effort that includes a new logo and package design. The rebranding coincides with the Coca-Cola Company’s plans to expand the brand into new markets.

You can see the old and new logo below.

seagrams logo Seagrams Rebranding Focuses Sophistication

Check out the new package design below.

seagrams packaging Seagrams Rebranding Focuses Sophistication

And see the new can design below.

seagrams can design Seagrams Rebranding Focuses Sophistication

seagrams can metallics 388x1024 Seagrams Rebranding Focuses SophisticationThe line of Seagram’s products will maintain a consistent design with color used to differentiate flavors. For example, can designs will retain the metallic color palette shown in the image to the left. Similarly, the simpler Seagram’s crest design will be used as a supporting element but notice how it still becomes a centerpiece of the design? It’s very clever.

Overall, this rebranding effort is excellent for a brand that wanted to position itself against the traditional soft drink category and stake its claim in the market of adults looking for a modern brand to offer at parties and events for mixing sophisticated cocktails.

Simple design and metallic colors might seem like an overused trick to represent brands that want to be known as high quality, luxury brands, but when the trick is executed well, it works. This design, by Hatch, demonstrates the importance of restraint in branding — a concept that’s typically associated with brand strategy, extensions, and so on but as the Seagram’s rebranding demonstrates, also applies to brand identity.

The Seagram’s product line will look much more relevant on the shelves in the liquor aisles of stores than the previous design. Of course, the rebranding will draw both supporters and detractors, but one thing is for certain — this rebranding is an improvement over the previous identity and is better aligned with the company’s goals for the brand.

What do you think? Leave a comment and share your thoughts.

New Ivory Soap Logo and Ad Campaign Demonstrates the Power of Brand Focus

November 16, 2011

Ivory soap debuted in 1879 as an American soap to compete against expensive, luxury soaps from Europe. For nearly a century, Ivory soap has used a tagline (in one variation or another) that identifies Ivory as 99.44% pure — so pure, it floats! A logo refresh, new package design, and ad campaign created by Wieden+Kennedy, was intended to reinforce consumers’ focus on the pure message in a clean and simple way.

First up, the new logo is certainly simple as you can see in the image below. Honestly, it seems too generic, but where this brand refresh shines is in the advertising creative.

ivory logo New Ivory Soap Logo and Ad Campaign Demonstrates the Power of Brand Focus

According to the description of the brand refresh on the Wieden+Kennedy website:

“The inspiration for this campaign came from the observation of how, over the years, in an effort to make life simpler, we have somehow made life more complicated. Taking a humorous look at what are called “Ivoryisms” – these honest truths include a series of simple and straightforward messages that reintroduce Ivory’s perspective on keeping things clean and simple.”

You can see some of those “Ivoryisms” in the print ad samples below.

ivory ad 4 New Ivory Soap Logo and Ad Campaign Demonstrates the Power of Brand Focus  ivory ad 3 New Ivory Soap Logo and Ad Campaign Demonstrates the Power of Brand Focus


ivory ad 2 New Ivory Soap Logo and Ad Campaign Demonstrates the Power of Brand Focusivory ad 1 New Ivory Soap Logo and Ad Campaign Demonstrates the Power of Brand FocusThese bold and simple messages are excellent. They capture people’s attention and represent things people can relate directly to in their own lives. There is no doubt that the “loofah” ad above will strike a chord with a specific target market (for example, men). Another hits people where it counts — their wallets, and a third is likely to resonate with audiences who don’t like overly-fragrant soaps that smell like perfumes.

The video element of the advertising campaign is equally simple. Again, the Ivoryisms take center stage with no visual distractions or cluttered messaging. Two samples are included below.

Focused brands are powerful brands, so it makes sense that Ivory would contract its brand focus to its original brand promise of purity. That clean and simple message says it all, and in today’s overflowing soap aisle at the supermarket, a pure, clean, and simple soap is just what many customers are looking for.

What do you think of the Ivory brand refresh?


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