Time to scrub Scotch-Brite’s logo, 3M India

UPDATE – July 17, 2020: Do not fall for misinformation – the Scotch-Brite case study: A step-by-step breakdown. This is a text-book case of misinformation (wrong information shared accidentally). Not disinformation (wrong information shared deliberately).

ORIGINAL POST:

(Note: Please see the response from 3M’s India marketing head on this, at the end of this post)

Pushpanjali Banerji recently shared with me a photo of a pack of Scotch-Brite and after I noticed what she pointed to, I couldn’t unsee it!

The largely familiar logo had the vector image of a woman with a bindi alongside (why ‘bindi’? There is a strong reason, from how the logo unit evolved, from outside India, to India in the 90s – now it exists only in India but not outside the country. See more, below.)! I rushed to our shelf where we keep such items and checked. Yes, there it is!

I did a double-take and wondered if all products from Scotch-Brite have this logo!

And it seems to be the case! But with exceptions!

So, while a lint roller does not carry this visual addition, other products like scrub pad/sponge, sink brush, broom, bathroom wipe, stainless steel scrub, toilet brush, spin mop, among others, do carry it right alongside the logo. In fact, it is part of the logo unit!

Now, Scotch-Brite products are enormously useful and are made with incredible quality (we buy them all the time). I love the 3M brand too, for their overall ingenuity and innovation. And I haven’t noticed this tiny addition to their logo unit for select products until it was pointed out to me.

But now, as I mentioned earlier, I could not unsee it.

It does look like this addition is indicative of 3M’s assumptions of who is likely to, or supposed to use the product. Is that ‘a woman’, or the kaam waali bai? Whoever it is, the gender marker is clear when you see that the lint roller, which has a man’s coat in the product pack, doesn’t have it!

I searched for the product range of Scotch-Brite from a few other countries, like Singapore and Malaysia, for the sake of comparison. Many products don’t have this addition, and some of them have non-logo gender cues, like the industrial ‘professional’ scrubber showing a male chef, or the cartoon girl child (looking like the Amul mascot) depicted in the stainless steel ball. But none of them have an integrated logo-level addition.

While searching for the logo’s history (there wasn’t any that I could find), I also found 2 other logos of Scotch-Brite on logo websites that may or may not be older, official versions of the brand’s logo. But what was interesting about them was that they had this vector addition without the bindi/dot, that differentiates it as ‘Indian’. The first one seems like a ‘Western’ woman, while the 2nd one is closer to what we currently see in the Indian version of the logo, but with the Bindi.

That 3M created a uniquely India-specific logo in the 90s (when the Scotch-Brite brand was launched here) is because they thought the ‘bindi’ adds to instant relatability among Indian women/buyers (at that point in time). They had non-bindi women outside India in their logo. (now, if you see the marketing head’s response below, the brand sees the overall idea of tying the product range only to women as a regressive thought. It may have seen as appropriate in the 90s, but in 2020, it seems regressive. Also consider the fact that they have showcased their products’ usage in a gender-neutral way in their ads – also referenced in the response by the marketing head).

When 3M launched Scotch-Brite in India in 1990, the period was very different and I understand if the brand and the agency conceived this addition as a ‘helpful’ marker to indicate user-centric cues. And since it has become a logo unit, they may have imbibed it as a legacy visual and forgotten all about it.

But, in 2020, such gender markers seem awkward and out of place.

I sure hope the good folks at 3M take note of this legacy logo and update it.


3M’s India marketing head responded to this post on LinkedIn.

Comments

comments

8 thoughts on “Time to scrub Scotch-Brite’s logo, 3M India

  1. Hi Karthik,
     
    At the very outset I wish to thank you for your insightful comment on the Scotch-Brite packaging. I head marketing in 3M India for our Consumer business. You have correctly surmised that this is a legacy vector, and that it is undoubtedly time to move on from regressive beliefs.

    Recognising this, we started down the road to drive behavioural change externally. Do you remember the TV advertisement series for Scotch-Brite called ‘Ghar Sabka, Toh Kaam Bhi Sabhi Ka’? Here is a link to one of the ads :

    https://youtu.be/muvgmrZm1Yc

    At the same time we also began to work internally on changing the brand vector. I am pleased to inform you that you will see the logo change a few months down the line. 

  2. firstly – great observation! always bought scotchbrite but never noticed the logo until you mentioned it! time to break stereotypes one-at-a-time!
    secondly – wow!! the power of internet! the message reached the concerned team in few minutes!! looking forward to the logo change in the next few months!

  3. Sir I am fully interest to work with a

    great household brand of scotch Brite Household cleaning items It’s a amazing thought that peoples are loving to lead a hygiene life.

  4. Sir I will work as a distributor of this renowned brand kindly give an opportunity, my mobile number is:8910332101/9163765300

  5. The guy uses clean plates to demonstrate SB. Atleast show dirty plate or soiled ones. You defeated the purpose.
    Is Siddesh listening?

  6. Important thing to know. Thanks for the info and it’s pity that we live in a society where people totally normalize these things.. It’s absolutely an interpretation (knowingly or Unknowingly) of gender bias. Like… we appreciate a gender just if they clean their plate for a day and we point out the other while taking rest for just an hour or two… people do exist on a greater propotion… don’t they ?

  7. great response Atul to an excellent observation by Karthik. if any considerate men still had doubts, current lockdown had made sure that they understand that any household errand is not limited to either men or women.

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