Global Brands That Speak Volumes

Johnnie Walker has been producing Scotch whisky for nearly 200 years, and has seen a rise from selling only in a small grocery store to being the most popular Scotch whisky in the world. This has led to the brand describing itself as “an international symbol of progress”. Progress has been the main emphasis of the Johnnie Walker brand for years, with the famous striding man logo turned to face the right, showing it marching forward to “fulfil personal goals”. The Johnnie Walker story is seen as inspirational, and is used as a branding technique to pass on the need for personal progress to the target market.

More recently however, Johnnie Walker has expanded its brand territory and has included a new brand value: joy. The new communication platform  “Joy Will Take You Further”,  reinforces the essence of personal progress and represents a belief that while hard work (“blood, sweat and tears”) will take you where you want to be, “joy will take you further”.

This new direction is backed up by a stunning video campaign starring actor Jude Law, and also featuring Formula One driver Jenson Button. It’s likely that these changes were made because Johnnie Walker’s previous positioning was deemed too serious, and didn’t resonate well with a younger audience. Adding an exciting angle to the brand strategy doesn’t just keep existing customers interested, but also potentially attracts a new audience.

In 2014, Reebok unveiled their new logo based on the Delta symbol (in maths a symbol of change) – a visualisation of a new direction in the brand strategy. In order to become more distinct in the competitive category of sports apparel, Reebok has sharpened up its image, became much tougher and darker and started promoting quite hardcore fitness regimes (e.g. by partnering with CrossFit and sponsoring UFC).

The Delta logo has three parts, one representing physical change, one mental change and the other social change, with Reebok claiming these all occur when people push and challenge themselves. This shift in branding also enforces a position that sees Reebok not focus simply on sport, as other brands such as Nike do, but on fitness overall, and how it can improve the human condition. This is backed up by the company’s new tagline: “Be More Human”.

Despite the fact that these three brand strategy changes seem to be very different, with Reebok moving their existing image to a tougher front, Coca-Cola reorganising their brand architecture, and Johnnie Walker adding a new focus alongside their long-running branding, they have one thing in common. None of them have seen a big overhaul in how things are done, with the brands’ original focuses still rooted in their DNA.

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