How does your icon grow?

In my last post, we looked at the relationship between challenger brands and iconic brands and the fact that most challengers aspire to iconic status. But, once you’ve reached that iconic status, just how do you keep it? How do you successfully – and creatively – develop an iconic brand? And prompts the question, what role design?

Icons have a quality that permeates them, an aura that surrounds them and a charisma that no one else can match. But to remain iconic they need to constantly refresh their magic and allure. And the dilemma is not just how to stay focused on their brand truth but answer new moral and cultural needs.

Iconic brands need to use design to stay fresh on shelf and can evolve by taking bold creative steps but, the fact us, their future depends on where the connection is with its past. Before making any changes, brands should ask: What makes us iconic? What must remain the same and what can be reinterpreted? What is the most appropriate way to do this?

Kellogg’s, for example, may have made subtle changes to their marque, or the design of the brand name, to make it more modern and relevant but have never strayed from their brand and product heritage or overcomplicated their offer. The ‘Rise and Shine’ Cockerel icon is ownable to Kellogg’s Cornflakes and has made the brand synonymous with breakfast. The iconic design is reinvented/evolves, at key moments in time, but still captures the true spirit and authenticity of the original.

And this is the crux when it comes to icons. We need to always look back to define a brand’s core visual essence in order to preserve the value and heritage of the past but remain relevant and focused for the future. It’s about preserving and cherishing the right part of the visual brand equity. The part of the visual brand equity that taps into and expresses our deepest feelings and inspires the essential love and connection in the consumer that icons need to survive and grow.

Jonathan Ford, Creative Partner Pearlfisher, will be presenting at the IIR’s annual FUSE event – FUSE: Reclaim The Future – with the Jamie Oliver team on 15 April 2010, Chicago
To find out more about Jamie Oliver and Jme, check out



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