Posted in Brand on 3 April 2014By David Hunt, Creative Director
If you’re launching a new brand or refreshing an existing one, the importance of your brand’s name is obviously vitally important.
How important? Well let’s look at the ongoing spat between high-street purveyor of strongly smelling bathroom treats, Lush and online, global mega-seller Amazon.
Lush, and its founder Mark Constantine, have taken umbrage at Amazon selling its own range of bathroom products and describing them as “Lush”. Their complaint is based on the grounds that Amazon’s tactic misled customers and trades off their name.
Have you tried this shower gel? It’s lush.
Their name presents a challenge. Lush can own a visual language and style around their brand identity. They can even trademark that identity. But, they clearly can’t claim ownership of the word ‘lush’ - it’s a descriptive word with increasingly commonplace use in today’s vernacular: “Have you tried this shower gel? It’s lush.”
So what to do?
After the inevitable to-and-fro between the two retailers, a successful conclusion didn’t seem likely any time soon. Then Lush decided to try a different approach that would illustrate to their competitor how upsetting it can be to have something as personal as your name (not to mention your reputation) misused and abused.
Letters and lawyers were seemingly put to one side for a moment, and something a little less obvious followed: the announcement of a new line of shower products heading straight to your local Lush store - the Christopher North range.
Not that interesting until you remember that Christopher North is, of course, the CEO of Amazon UK. And with promises to “Kindle a new love for your skin” and claims that they are “packed with Amazon Prime ingredients” you can see that the people at Lush have had a lot of fun with their “if you can’t beat ‘em join ‘em” approach.
As the affair heads to the high court, it is however unlikely to resolve the matter. Which is a shame as it would’ve been refreshing if the whole thing had concluded with Messrs North and Constantine settling it with a firm handshake and a giggle over a pint or two.
if you can’t beat ‘em join ‘em
What is great about this case – other than highlighting the importance of selecting the right name and some of the issues and pitfalls around it – is that how creative thinking around a problem produced a positive result for Lush regardless of the court judgement.
How? Well, firstly, they’ve alerted consumers quite publicly to the issue. Secondly, and probably more importantly, their more light hearted response (and decision to give all the profits for the new products to good causes should they reach the high street) has resulted in media coverage that portrays Lush as the slighted, David versus the big, bad Goliath of Amazon.
So, a little creative thinking has helped to protect and enhance the two most valuable assets of any brand: their name and their reputation.
Not the keywords in my online dating profile*, but rather some of the characteristics we at Emperor were looking for in a new corporate typeface when we refreshed our brand identity at the start of 2014.
As someone who has been on both sides of the agency-client fence, it’s my experience that talking about “brand” with investment management groups of different shapes and sizes more often than not incites a rapid furrowing of brows or glazing of the eyes…sometimes just an awkward silence.
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