Monday, August 25, 2008

Giant's Project Refresh

My brother called yesterday morning. "I've got a blog suggestion for you. Comment on the new Giant logo. I read the Post article about it and it sounds like a load of crap to me." While I respect my brother's opinion, I disagree.

I had seen the new branding; in fact, a postcard urging "Come celebrate our fresh new look!" was propped up against my monitor. Frankly, the coupons on the back are what caught my eye. Like everyone else, my food budget is stretched thin and I was drawn by the coupon for $1.00 off Rotisserie Chicken. But I had also read the Washington Post article, "Giant Puts on a Fresh Face For Its Supermarket Upgrades," that describes the rebranding.

I think Royal Ahold deserves high praise for reworking this tired brand. I grew up at the White Oak Giant Food; my mother hauled me there every Saturday to buy the family's groceries. Giant was THE place to shop for food in the DC area - until a few years ago when the house that Izzy Cohen built was sold to the international conglomerate, Royal Ahold. The store's venerable brand then slipped because of lackluster customer service, higher prices, poorly laid out stores, and more.

This serves as another reminder that a brand is NOT a logo. A brand is the feeling customers or clients have about your product or service. To use a very hackneyed analogy, creating a new logo for a mediocre company is like putting lipstick on a pig. Royal Ahold knows this and "is planning to expand its selection of prepared foods and private-label offerings. It also is instituting a family checkout lane that bans tabloids and candy in favor of yogurt, animal crackers and bottled water. Hand-held scanners soon will be available for shoppers to ring up groceries while they browse the store." New logo + improved service and products = renovated and resurrected brand. Smart, too.

The old Giant logo is just that: old. As the Post article states, the brand was created in 1963. Just like me, it needed a facelift (just kidding - in my case anyway). Royal Ahold needed to breathe life back into the stores, and in a market that includes exceptionally well-branded companies like Bloom and Trader Joe's, Giant needs to be able to compete.

My nomination for the next brand that needs refreshing? Safeway. It's looking a wee bit weary and boring in the now-more-vibrant grocers industry. It will interesting to see how the company reintreprets this household-name brand.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Before and After: TSpec

Julie & Company has just finished up a website for a long-time client, Technical Specialties, otherwise known as TSpec. The good folks there have been good to us for years; we first started working with them in 2001 when we rebranded and renamed the company. Unfortunately, I don't have a copy of the original logo, but as I remember it was pretty lame. Everyone was happy with the updated logo and website when it debuted seven years ago.

Fast forward to 2008. A lot has happened since then - especially on the web. What was an innovative site in 2001 now looked, well, nearly ridiculous. It was difficult to navigate, impossible to optimize for search engines, and was just plain old worn out.


So Patrick Carter, TSpec VP, called me to the rescue again. We've just launched the revised site and once again, everyone is happy with the face lift. We kept the logo as it is because it still looks fresh; this also allowed the company to avoid reprinting everything in its marketing arsenel. But Julie & Company greatly updated the homepage, adding a Flash animation, rollovers, and pop-up navigation. We also created sections for TSpec's major markets, allowing the company to provide a targeted message to a targeted audience.

AFTERAll's well that ends well - for now anyway. It's likely that within a decade TSpec will be hiring Julie & Company for another new website design. Why? Because the web will have continued to evolve and grow, and what looks great today will again look obsolete.

However, if we're lucky, both Patrick and I will have won the lottery, paid off all our bills, and be living like royalty someplace warm. From my lips to God's ears! Until that time, thank you, TSpec for being such a great and loyal client.

Colour My World

For all the colorphiles out there, I've found a fabulous new blog: ColourLovers. This inspired masterpiece of a blog offers fascinating stories about color. Today's entry, for example, discusses and displays naturally occurring, opulently colored salt evaporation ponds. These man-made pools take on the color of the microorganisms that inhabit them, producing every hue from peach to emerald. Fascinating - and beautiful.

And then there is ColourLover's discussion of brocken bows, something that I'd never heard of before. According to the-font-of-all-knowledge Wikipedia, a brocken bow is an "enormously magnified shadow of an observer, cast upon the upper surfaces of clouds opposite the sun." Brocken bows occur on foggy mountain tops - which explains why I haven't heard of them. I haven't spent ten minutes on a foggy mountaintop since I was a Girl Scout in 1967! These specter-like occurrences bring to mind pictures of Jesus; perhaps he experienced a brocken bow? That would have been quite a sight - enough to start a world religion (especially if you're the Son of God - as we all are, INHO).

Kudos to ColourLovers. Keep up the great work!