Brand Lessons from Tropicana: Why You are Not Your Orange Juice

Recent blog posts on orange juice have me thinking that branding and packaging humans is a horrible idea. And yes, I realize that my last post outlined a storytelling method of preparing that package, your bright and shiny face to the world, but before rushing out to nail things down it's probably best not to take Brand You too seriously. It would be much better to brand loosely. Make your story one you can weave rather than lay down flat.

And if you're promoting yourself as a Creative, get yourself a disclaimer for the times you may have to trash it altogether.

Take the recent Tropicana package redesign fiasco. I see at least two lessons to take away from the fact that when the tried and true orange juice brand tried to reinvent itself by changing its forward-face, it failed fast and hard. It's a case of failure gone viral, one where sales Titanic'd miserably.

Leave room to try out new flavors.

Since branding is designed so that people can recognize a symbol and instantly know everything it represents, are you sure you're ready, right now, to build that kind of limitation? While it's true that our skills and talents can be offered as products, unlike a juice drink, humans generally don't aim to offer such static content. By creating a neat package, tagline, or symbol, you may gain a loyal following but that also means that to keep them you may risk limiting growth. What's worse, when times and tastes change, if you've buried your heels deep into your own brand, you've left yourself with little wiggle room for reinvention and no flexibility to quickly change course.

Apples (and Oranges) don't fall far from the tree

This idea is an extension of the first. Branding can make you timid. Tropicana has had only two months to evaluate the impact of their package redesign and have already pronounced it a failure. They are wasting no time in having regrets, and their most loyal customers adamantly insist they've been betrayed. Never mind the fact that their objection is not about the contents, but the containers. They are now stuck with a symbol chosen years ago by an entirely different group of people and there's no room for putting a fresher face forward.

Before deciding on your final personal brand and advertising it all over the web, ask yourself this: Do you really want to be googled and evaluated solely on the basis of the haircut you chose at age 18? 25? 40?

1 comment:

  1. I'm okay with the me-through-time. There are very few point-in-time me's that I'd actually be unhappy about sharing, and those were mainly object lessons in the me I want to be.

    You're right about the tail though. Search will link a future lawyer to her long lost party pictures.

    But I think our understanding will change as a result, too. As much as it'll hurt for the first few people, we'll learn that the past is past and we have to look at the current person the most.

    That transition may really hurt a lot.