Brands alter logos to spread awareness on social distancing

Nike, Audi, Coke and McDonald's change slogans to promote isolation

MUMBAI/NEW DELHI: If there’s something sacred for any brand, it is the logo! A logo is like the skin to a brand’s soul. It is what distinguishes the brand from competitors and makes it identifiable with a distinctive character of its own. For decades, brands have invested significantly in promoting their identities using these signs and symbols and any changes in them require a huge strategic and economic planning. It is seldom that we see brands adapting their logos for moment marketing but the ongoing global pandemic of Covid-19 has made many brands take this crucial call.

Understanding their social responsibility by virtue of their popularity, many brands have synced their logo designs with the message of isolation and social distancing. While most experts would suggest a likely hit on their revenues, some brands have made significant investment on this to show their commitment to the cause.

The most prominent names in the list of brands that have rebranded their logos for the moment could be McDonald’s, which had its golden arches engraved in its logo in 1962, and Coca Cola.

According to Mirum India executive creative director Naila Patel, all creativity done by the brands are welcomed. Majorly, at the time of crisis, this kind of move attracts the attention of consumers. “It puts the brand in a humane and emphatic light which increases positivity towards the brand. In today's times, brands which have a cause in their corner attract consumers. The young, educated and evolved consumers identify themselves better with the brands that stand by causes or show empathy in tough times.”

Brand-nomics managing director Viren Razdan said: “The Pandemic has brought the world together, united in fear and hope. As all the stops are being pulled out to spread the prevention message, iconic brands are making their popular following count by cleverly weaving in the message into their well-ingrained logos. Coca-Cola Times Square spot is perhaps the most expensive signage, and the impact would be great.”

He also adds a word of caution for brands. “In the hypersonic media landscape we operate in, marketers and brands do their best to stay relevant in consumer conversations. But as McDonald's would have learned, any such act requires your own house to be open to public scrutiny or else all this backfires as superficial, clever, opportunistic, and tactical brownie points. The McDonald's campaign of moving the arches was withdrawn after public outcry on internal policies,” he adds.

Let’s take a look at some of the brands that have re-shaped their logos.

Sending out the message that social distancing is the only way to stop the spread of SARS-CoV-2 virus, McDonald’s Brazil changed the logo for the company on its official social media handles, separating the letter M, saying “Separados por um momento para estarmos sempre juntos" which translates to “separated for a moment to always be together.” The brand has recently extended the campaign in India and Pakistan as well.

The quick service restaurant chain, through its social handles including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, has urged citizens worldwide to stay indoors.

Meanwhile, Coca-Cola has changed its ad on Times Square billboard with letters spread apart in its spelling. The new tagline of the reads, “Staying apart is the best way to stay connected”.

According to reports, the changes will only be seen on Times billboard.

German multinational automotive manufacturing company Volkswagen and Audi are also changing their logos temporarily.

The iconic Volkswagen logo now has its ‘V’ and ‘W’ separated to project the distance that needs to be maintained in this crucial time. Audi has also done the same thing by separating the four rings that have been associated with the brand since the 1930’s.

Another brand joining the league is Swiss banana producer and distributor Chiquita Brands International. The company posted a new version of its logo without Miss Chiquita saying, ‘I’m already home. Please do the same and protect yourself’.

Argentina’s ecommerce platform, Mercado Libre, too, tweaked its logo, changing the shaking hands to elbow bumps.

Closer home, in India, Shopper’s Stop has launched a new creative logo, transforming its identity into a heart-and-infinity sign to salute and applaud frontline professionals for their dutiful actions during these tough times.

CARS24, a tech-enabled used car platform, has launched “Home24” campaign urging people to stay at home and spreading awareness around hygienic practices including washing hands and self-isolation. As part of this campaign, the company has tweaked its logo from ‘CARS24’ to ‘Home24’ to spread awareness about COVID 19 and conveying the importance of social distancing and ‘stay at home’. The logo has replaced the old logo of CARS24 on the company’s website and across all the social media platforms including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Not just logo designs, brands are actively playing with their propositions to spread awareness during these tough times.

As published in USA Today, Nike is promoting social distancing through a new ad highlighting the importance of staying apart. The ad reads: “If you ever dreamed of playing for millions around the world, now is your chance. Play inside, play for the world.”

The sports company has, in fact, shut down stores in some countries until 27 March.

Sports icon Michael Jordan, who had worked with Nike contracts, also shared a message, “Now more than ever, we are one family. #JUMPMAN #playinside

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