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Lunar Perspectives

The Weak at a Glance

In this series of weekly posts we’ll highlight examples of names, graphic designs, branding and identity we run across out there in the real world that we find deserving of discussion (and occasional ridicule). We promise we’ll try to make each one a “teachable moment” but, in some cases, a picture may be worth way more than a thousand words.

Feel free to send us any examples you find, along with a few words telling us why you find your example to be weak, and we might feature yours in one of our weekly posts.

Tea Collection Logo

Weak Tea

I chose this first example to ease into the process of glancing at “The Weak.” After all, weakness takes all kinds of forms, from the ridiculous, to the sublime, to the merely perplexing – and that’s the arena that this inaugural example falls into. (BTW, as you will come to see over time if you stick with it, this is by no means the most egregious example we’ve run into, just the handiest.)

Tea Collection, a new company in San Francisco’s Potrero Hill neighborhood,  has a name and logo that positively scream “we sell tea and tea-related products.” Their logo color and shape is even a bit reminiscent of a tea bag.

But they sell children’s clothing.

And they are wildly successful.

Let’s begin by making one thing abundantly clear: I absolutely love Tea Collection’s products. Their clothes are creative, well-designed, comfortable and versatile. The company clearly has a bead on kids and kid’s duds today. But more and more it seems like you can get away with calling your company just about anything, and giving it a logo that doesn’t really relate to your product, and still “succeed.” Much of this is due to the short attention span of today’s consumer. Too many choices, too many venues and too little time has bred a kind of careless (as in “I not only could care less, I barely even noticed”) consumer. If a product is good, as this one is, it may do well with customers who already know and like it, but it might not fare nearly as well with those who don’t, or those who go looking for something logical or specific.

In the interest of full disclosure, Tea Collection does offer up a kind of explanation for their name on the website:

“Tea (the drink) is shared in nearly every culture
around the world. Tea (our company) is about sharing
our discoveries and encouraging adventure.”

Okaaay…to say that is a bit of a stretch/weak definitely qualifies as an understatement.

Would I recommend to them that they change their name and logo now? As hard as it would be for Tea lovers to digest – maybe. On the one hand they are so far down the road with a successful product line that people who already know and love them look right past the name and logo. On the other hand, the best time to fix a problem is now, not someday, and not never. Not everyone is an existing customer – all businesses need to reel in and retain new fish as well. Ideally they would have launched with a more appropriate solution from the get go but, since that ship has sailed, I would at least recommend revisiting their branding at some point in the future to align it better with their product, thereby making it easier on poor, unsuspecting consumers. (Note: some companies will tell you that it would be disastrous to do this because of the amount of equity they’ve built up. Unfortunately, the truly defensible reason generally comes down to money. Unfortunately, every dollar invested in perpetuating a weak brand might well be throwing good money after bad.)

Let’s face it: we live in a world full of Googles and Yahoos and Zyngas…it seems like names and logos that mean nothing are great, right? But unless you have unlimited time and money to put your name and logo in front of consumers on an ongoing basis, eventually someone else will build a similar, or better, mousetrap. That’s when having established clear, appropriate, targeted brand identity elements will really help you to weather the inevitable storms – like a year when your product maybe isn’t so hot. People who understand you are more likely to remember you and remain loyal. And a relevant, relatable identity will tell people who don’t already know and love you important information in advance of actually experiencing your product. That’s when you’ll really find out if your brand is hot or tepid, strong or weak. 

While you might get away with a name and logo that work against you, the question is this: why would you ever want to build on a shaky foundation when you could build on a solid one?  I say brew your brand strong, and steep it in everything you can, right from the start, to support who you are and what you have to offer – not just now, but well into the future. Right from the beginning, in every way, work hard to make sure your brand suits you to a T (pun very much intended).



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