Brand identity as a media vehicle… for a cause!

A brand/company’s logo or packaging (that carries the logo) is possibly its most important identity. It would try to protect it at all costs.

But there are times when brands have gone out of their way, to change either the logo or the packaging, for a good cause. Here are 3 interesting examples.

The most famous one – Lacoste!

In 2018, Lacoste, based on an idea from its agency BETC, working with International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)’s SOS (Save Our Species), signed a 3-year plan and launched a limited edition polo-shirts range that did not have the famous Lacoste Crocodile as logo. Instead, it had 10 different species as logos:

  1. The Vaquita (Phocoena sinus)
  2. Burmese Roofed Turtle (Batagur trivittata)
  3. Northern Sportive Lemur (Lepilemur septentrionalis)
  4. Javan Rhino (Rhinoceros sondaicus)
  5. Cao-vit Gibbon (Nomascus nasutus)
  6. Kakapo (Strigops habroptila)
  7. California Condor (Gymnogyps californianus)
  8. Saola (Pseudoryx nghetinhensis)
  9. Sumatran Tiger (Panthera tigris sumatrae) and
  10. Anegada Ground Iguana (Cyclura pinguis)

The nuance here is that Lacoste produced a specific number of each polo short and that number corresponded to the number of species left under each! So,

  1. The Vaquita – 30
  2. Burmese Roofed Turtle – 40
  3. Northern Sportive Lemur – 50
  4. Javan Rhino – 67
  5. Cao-vit Gibbon – 150
  6. Kakapo – 157
  7. California Condor – 231
  8. Saola – 250
  9. Sumatran Tiger – 350
  10. Anegada Ground Iguana – 450

That’s 1,775 polo shirts, in total without the Lacoste logo!

When you stumble on the fact that there are (or, were, since this was in 2018) only 67 Javan Rhino left, that stark fact hits you hard and allows you to ruminate over the human species’ stupendous selfish behavior on planet Earth, our only home.

Among many other metrics, IUCN’s donations during this period increased 4 times.

In 2019, in the 2nd year of engagement, Lacoste produced 10 new sets of polo shirts, with 10 different species as logos instead of the Lacoste Crocodile.

  1. The Hawaiian Monk Seal (Neomonachus schauinslandi) – 1,400
  2. The Iberian Lynx (Lynx pardinus) – 589
  3. The North Atlantic Right Whale (Eubalaena glacialis) – 444
  4. The Mountain Chicken (Leptodactylus fallax) – 132
  5. The Cebu Damselfly (Risiocnemis seidenschwarzi) – 50
  6. The Addax (Addax nasomaculatus) – 90
  7. The Moheli Scops-owl (Otus moheliensis) – 400
  8. The Yemeni Mouse-tailed Bat (Rhinopoma hadramauticum) – 150
  9. The Opal Goodeid (Allotoca maculata) – 150
  10. The Northern Hairy-nosed Wombat (Lasiorhinus krefftii) – 115

That’s 3,520 polo shirts without the Lacoste logo.

The interesting part here is that while the Lacoste Crocodile logo is missing, the other species’ logos are depicted in the same same style, color and placement as the original logo. So you may recognize the limited edition polo shirts as looking like Lacoste instantly!

If that was Lacoste, which replaced its logo for a cause, here’s a Belgian brand that simply removed its icon, an integral part of its brand identity.

One of Belgium’s famous brand of sugar is Cassonade Graeffe by the parent company Tiense Suiker. The sugar brand has the image of a little boy, and that image is so iconic that people remember the brand itself as ‘Kinnekessuiker’ or ‘Little kid sugar’. The Indian parallel, to some extent, could be the little girl in the Parle-G biscuit pack or the Amul girl.

The brand’s agency, Wunderman (Antwerp), suggested removing that iconic kid imagery from 250,000 packs! Why? To support a cause called Child Focus, the Belgian center for missing children! What an apt way to communicate the cause by removing the child! The way they seeded the packs is also interesting – they simply launched the new packs without any fanfare and let people discover what was missing!

Brilliant thought, wonderfully executed.

The third example if from India. While Lacoste removed their logo, and Cassonade Graeffe revamped their packaging to remove an iconic visual, Nestle revamped its packs across 3 products to say something else instead of the usual!

In support of Nanhi Kali, one of the largest NGOs imparting education to underprivileged girl children across India, Nestle updated the packs of Maggi, Nescafe and Kitkat (100 million packs, in total!) to say things differently.

So, for Maggi, from “2 minute noodles” to “2 minutes for education”. For Nescafe, “It all starts with a Nescafe” to “It all starts with education”. And for Kitkat, “No break from education” instead of the snapped finger/strip of Kitkat!

In all 3 examples, the brands utilized their most prized and visible media (brand identity/logo) and updated it for a good cause, at a fairly significant cost.