When 'Brand Identity' Fails to Reflect the Brand
Every time I drive by an Arby's—which have been around since 1964—and see the whimsical sign with the giant cowboy hat, I chuckle. I imagine a hot roast beef sandwich, and it makes me hungry.
Same thing with Wendy's, which opened in 1969. The sign says to me, "Stop here for a great breakfast or juicy, old-fashioned burger!"
Though only a sometimes customer, over the years both of these organizations have created positive brand awareness in my head.
So when I received the e-mail from KCSA Strategic Communications announcing a "new brand identity" for Wendy's/Arby's, I was curious. After all, the old brands were real good.
Here's how the "new brand identity" is described:
"The Wendy's/Arby's Group brand identity is designed not only as an acronym, but as a spiral continuum, maintaining the idea of continuous, flexible movement forward," said Margaret Wiatrowski, creative director, KCSA Strategic Communications. "The overall visual direction remains neutral by introducing entirely new elements to the combined entity, both formalistically and typographically. The two entities are symbolically combined through a mutual sense of innovation, authenticity and tradition."
NOTE: At the end of this story are illustrations of the logos discussed.
Creating a Logo
One day in 1984, I came home from a very liquid lunch with the late, great freelance copywriter Harry Walsh and muttered to my wife, Peggy, that I wanted to start a newsletter based on our massive archive of junk mail.
"Cash flow for a newsletter can't be any worse than cash flow for a freelancer," Peggy said. "Let's do it."
WHO'S MAILING WHAT! was born.
One thing we needed was a distinctive title design/logo for the cover page and elsewhere. I called my trusty, wonderfully talented freelance art director, Heide Follin, and gave her the assignment. "Don't sweat over this," I told her. "Just bang out a few designs, and we'll pick one."