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.

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