Page 1

Matthew Tucker

Graphic Design

Is there  such  a  thing  as  Ethical  Branding?   This  essay  will  discuss  Wally  Olins  theories  on  branding  and  whether  branding   can  genuinely  be  ethical,  or  if  it  simply  uses  ethical  values  as  a  selling  tool.       In  Capitalist  society’s  brands  play  a  huge  role  in  influencing  people’s  actions,   from  the  clothes  they  wear  to  the  foods  they  buy.  There  has  been  at  least  an   attempt  to  brand  almost  everything  from  simple  products  and  services  to  entire   cities  or  countries.  Olins  (2003,  p.14)  states  “Branding  these  days  is  largely  about   involvement  and  association;  the  outward  and  visible  demonstration  of  private   and  personal  affiliation.”  It  enables  people  to  define  their  self-­‐perception  with  a   set  of  values  or  views  through  the  choices  of  branded  products  and  services  they   support.     When  studying  the  writing  of  Wally  Olins  it  becomes  clear  how  brands  operate   and  how  they  connect  with  their  target  audience.  He  unpicks  the  corporate   world  and  describes  the  essential  rules  for  successful  branding,  defining  the  links   between  business,  brand  and  customer.       Olins  theorises  that  brands  can  be  broken  down  into  the  ‘four  vectors’  that   are,  product,  environment,  communication  and  behaviour,  Olins  (2003,   p.176)  states     “The  product  is  what  the  organization  sells.  Environment  is  where  it   makes  or  sells  it.  Communication  is  how  it  tells  people,  every  audience,   and  about  it’s  self  and  what  its  doing.  And  behaviour  is  how  it   behaves”     One  area  that  isn’t  covered  in  Olins  work  is  ethical  branding,  and  although  it  can   be  applied  through  each  vector,  ethics  could  be  considered  another  vector  in  its   own  right.  Finn  (2001,  p.1)  states,  “Ethical  branding  could  provide  the  company   Contextual and Theoretical Studies Richard Miles

1


Matthew Tucker

Graphic Design

with a  differential  advantage  as  a  growing  number  of  consumers  become  more   ethically  conscious.”     Ethics  is  a  complex  and  somewhat  unclear  because  there  are  no  clear  lines  that   delineate  a  definitive  set  of  values.  Essentially,  many  ethical  values  are  excluded   from  the  laws  and  guidelines  of  society.  It  is  becoming  growingly  complicated  to   define  where  the  boundaries  lie  within  right  or  wrong  because  of  globalisation   with  an  integrated  mixture  of  cultures.  Robinson  &  Garratt  (1996  p.5)  puts   forward  that  “ethics  is  complicated  because  our  morality  is  an  odd  mixture  of   received  tradition  and  personal  opinion”       When  applying  ethics  to  branding  Fan  (2005,  p.3)  also  states,     “Should  branding  be  ethical?  It  might  seem  that  the  answer  is  obvious:   most  companies  would  answer  yes.  However,  it  would  be  more  difficult  to   find  a  universal  agreement  on  what  ethical  branding  is.”     Using  this  information  and  through  deconstructing  the  work  of  Olins,  it  becomes   apparent  how  ethics  are  implicated  within  brands.  However  the  issue  of  what   ethics  and  morals  actually  are,  and  if  how  they  are  utilised  is  immoral  adds  to  the   complexity  of  the  question,  is  there  such  a  thing  as  ethical  branding?     Olins  states  (2005,  p190)  that  the  core  idea  represents  what  the  company  stands   for  and  why  it  exists,  it  provides  the  brand  with  coherence,  consistency  and  a   powerful  emotional  attitude  or  idea.  For  many,  environmental  and  economical   factors  are  a  highly  valued  as  they  offer  customers  emotional  satisfaction  and   contempt  with  their  product  or  service  choices.  In  addition  to  Olins  theories,  Fan   (2005)  puts  forward  that  “branding  is  no  longer  just  about  adding  value  to  a   product;  branding  represents  and  promotes  lifestyles  and  brands  themselves   become  a  kind  of  culture.”   Contextual and Theoretical Studies Richard Miles

2


Matthew Tucker

Graphic Design

Olins states  (2003,  p.179)  that  when  an  organization  is  being  branded  or  re-­‐ branded  the  appropriateness  of  the  environment  is  hugely  influential  on  who   will  see  it,  how  they  will  react  and  how  successful  it  will  be.  The  environment   and  the  experience  that  it  provides  is  something  companies  need  to  keep   consistent  with  their  core  idea.  When  looking  at  food  markets  and  similar   environments  such  as  furniture  stores  the  layouts  are  designed  so  that  you  walk   around  the  entire  shop  often  picking  up  unnecessary  goods  before  you  reach  the   tills.  This  is  morally  and  ethically  questionable,  as  for  the  customer  it  would  be   more  beneficial  to  have  a  more  open  planed  environment  allowing  people  to  go   directly  to  what  they  need  and  be  able  to  directly  pay  and  leave  the  store.       When  branding  environments  Olins  (2003)  states  that  people  will  often  choose   predictable  environments  whether  this  is  consciously  or  subconsciously.   Supermarkets  in  particular  fit  into  this  bracket  with  the  alluring  signs  of   simulacra.  They  create  a  hyperreality  of  a  market  environment  and  are  designed   to  recreate  the  reality  of  markets  and  fruit  stalls  which  could  be  done  to  exploit   how  people  perceive  the  produce  they  are  buying.  The  layout  suggests  a  less   corporate  set  of  produce  and  more  of  a  local  and  fair  way  of  buying  your   shopping.     When  product  branding,  particularly  that  of  food,  ethical  issues  of  fair  trade  and   organic  produce  are  highly  valued.  It  can  be  analysed  that  these  used  to  exploit   insecurities  and  manipulate  buyers  into  a  state  of  panopticism  where  they  gain  a   sense  of  moral  satisfaction  from  buying  specific  produce.    Also  because  of  the   busy  environment  customers  begin  to  self  regulate  into  this  state  because  of  the   omnipresent  eye  that  consumerism  creates.     Olins  (2003  p.189)  also  states  that  a  product  will  have  to  meet  and  maintain   certain  standards  to  assure  that  customers  return,  one  bad  experience  could  be  

Contextual and Theoretical Studies Richard Miles

3


Matthew Tucker

Graphic Design

enough to  deter  them  from  returning  to  the  store  as  well  as  telling  associates   about  their  bad  experience.       Olins  (2003,  p.181)  states  that  the  way  a  brand  communicates  should  to  be   closely  linked  to  their  core  idea,  it  is  all  about  how  the  product  or  service  is   advertised  and  promoted.  It  is  used  to  bridge  the  gap  between  the  target   audience  and  the  organization.  When  dealing  with  ethical  values  it  is  common  for   companies  to  express  these  connotations  as  a  marketing  tool.  They  create  and   alter  customer  perceptions  of  the  brand  and  determine  whether  a  brand  is   successfully  established  and  eventually  turns  a  profit.       Finally  Olins  (2003)  states  that  brand  behaviour  is  applicable  to  the  way  a  brand   is  seen,  heard,  felt  and  even  smelt  or  tasted.  Like  brand  communication  it  is   applicable  every  time  someone  interacts  with  the  brand.  A  successful  brand   should  have  consistent  and  organized  behaviour  unless  strategically  decided   otherwise.  The  behaviour  of  a  brand  is  used  to  ensure  that  the  same  desired   brand  experience  is  delivered  to  all  audiences  whether  this  is  externally  or   internally,  if  the  desired  message  comes  across  to  the  employees  then  the  same   message  should  effectively  be  delivered  to  the  customers.     In  the  competitive,  corporate  climate,  rebranding  is  often  needed  to  rejuvenate   or  revamp  a  companies  values  and  public  image.  Brands  tend  to  have  readily   comprehensible  messages  of  socially  ethical  values,  but  it  could  be  said  that  they   are  using  this  as  a  way  of  connoting  a  lifestyle  to  sell  their  products  or  services.   However  rebranding  is  particularly  complicated  because  of  a  brands  history,   Olins  (2003,  p.186)   When  you  invent  a  brand  there  is  no  business,  nobody  works  for  it,  there   isn’t  an  office,  you  start  literally  with  a  blank  sheet  of  paper.  But  when  you   re-­‐invent  a  brand  it’s  quite  different;  there’s  already  a  culture,  a  tradition,   an  attitude  and  a  reputation,  often  a  very  long-­‐standing  one.  And  there’s   Contextual and Theoretical Studies Richard Miles

4


Matthew Tucker

Graphic Design

also a  name.  There  are  employees,  customers,  shareholders,  suppliers.   How  much  can  or  should  you  change?     When  analysing  at  the  rebrand  of  the  Co-­‐operative  by  design  studio  Pentagram   through  these  four  vectors  it  becomes  easier  to  deconstruct  and  understand  the   ideas  and  strategy  behind  the  rebrand.  When  describing  the  process  behind  the   branding  Wiedemann  (U,  p.109)  confers     The  Co-­‐Operative  movement  began  in  1844  as  a  response  to  the  inequality   caused  by  the  industrial  revolution,  forming  numerous  co-­‐operative   societies  in  retail,  agriculture,  and  housing.  Each  society  was  owned  and   run  by  its  members  and  worked  for  the  benefit  of  its  local  community.  The   Co-­‐Operative  group  was  formed  from  the  merger  of  many  independent   retail  societies.     Research  shows  that  the  Co-­‐operative,  was  formed  as  an  ethical  and  moral   organization.  The  core  idea  behind  the  rebrand  was  one  of  unity  across  all  fronts   of  the  organization  as  well  as  getting  the  employees  to  maintain  and  portray  the   same  values.       The  first  step  in  the  rebranding  of  communication  was  the  name  change,  the  Co-­‐ op  was  often  synonymous  with  low  quality  products  and  dated  retail.  The  name   change  to  ‘The  Co-­‐operative’  re-­‐connected  the  strong  ethical  credentials  of  the   organization.  Also  with  the  likes  of  super  giants  like  Tesco  and  Sainsbury’s   pioneering  new  levels  of  value  it  was  clear  that  the  Co-­‐op  had  to  change  its  public   perception  and  reach  out  to  a  different  market.  Wiedemann  (U,  p111)  states     We  changed  the  name  back  to  the  ‘Co-­‐operative’.  This  name  felt  like  a   straightforward  and  authoritative  straightforward  statement  of  fact  and   reconnected  the  business  with  the  roots  that  were  central  to  its  ethos     Contextual and Theoretical Studies Richard Miles

5


Matthew Tucker

Graphic Design

The second  development  of  brand  communication  was  changing  from  the  1993   logo,  which  was  still  based  on  a  cloverleaf  to  a  modernist,  sans  serif,  Helvetica   logotype  that  portrayed  a  higher  quality  and  value  of  products  and  service.  There   was  also  a  dramatic  colour  change  from  blue  to  green,  often  theorised  in  colour   theory  as  a  connotation  health  and  the  environment.  This  was  applied  across  all   fronts  including  signage,  shop  fronts  and  other  more  appropriate  colour  schemes   were  applied  to  the  rest  of  The  Co-­‐operative  businesses.     Bold  statements  of  the  company  ethics  were  delivered  through  out  the  store  as   well  as  across  the  face  of  the  store.  It  could  be  said  that  again  these  statements,   despite  being  true,  were  as  a  tool  of  panopticism,  making  existing  customers  pay   more  and  expanding  their  customer  base.     The  rebrand  of  its  environment  also  played  a  huge  role  in  its  reecent  success.   Wiedemann  (U,  p.110)  states  that  this  in  turn  with  its  communication  was  about   creating  a  consistent  brand  across  all  fronts  that  reconnected  it  with  its   fundamental  principles  of  fairness,  responsibility,  and  community  ownership.       The  start  for  the  environment  but  summultaniously  linked  with  brand  behaviour   was  the  internal  initive  of  ‘together’  which  united  employees  under  one  common   business  vision.  The  store  interiors  were  redesigned  and  provided  customers   with  a  joyful  experience,  this  is  closely  related  with  the  product  vector.  Olins     (2003,  p.179)  makes  this  comparison     Nobody  would  go  to  a  hotel  twice,  however  beautifully  designed,   furnished  and  located,  if  the  food  and  service  were  lousy.  But  it  is  the   environment  that  set  the  tone.     The  internal  rebranding  of  the  store  has  connotations  of  health  and  an  ethical   ethos,  using  green  signage  and  keeping  the  type  consistent  with  the  logo.   Contextual and Theoretical Studies Richard Miles

6


Matthew Tucker

Graphic Design

Although this  seems  an  innocent  and  neturally  uninfluential  it  could  be  said  that   these  ethics  were  used  as  a  tool  of  manipulation,  in  turn  a  system  of  panopticism,   Olins  (2003,  p109)  makes  similar  perceptions  about  bottled  water.   But  bottled  water  has  emotional  connotations  of  health,  purity  and  fitness   which  seem  to  have  a  special  resonance  for  the  Western  World.  And  very   many  peole,  including  me,  are  perfectly  willing  to  pay  relatively  large  sums   of  money  to  pay  for  the  emotional  satisfaction  they  derive  from  drinking  it.     The  rebranding  of  the  product  included  all  of  their  self-­‐branded  produce,  which   the  Co-­‐operative  (2008,  www.co-­‐operative.coop)  claims  to  be  more  ethically   sourced  and  produced  than  other  corporations  on  the  market.  The  designs  were   kept  consistent  with  the  rest  of  the  brand  communication  sticking  with  Helvetica   Neue  and  simple  green  black  and  white  colour  scheme,  delivering  the  same   consistent  and  coherent  message  of  unity.       The  Co-­‐operative  (2008,  www.co-­‐operative.coop)  claims  that  new  packaging   designs  were  produced  using  sustainable,  recyclable  print  methods  and   materials.  Although  statements  these  statistics  were  used  to  promote  the   organization,  it  is  environmentally  beneficial  and  will  hopefully  pioneer  a  new   attitude  for  rest  of  their  competition  and  eventually  become  a  standard.     Finally  within  the  product  branding  of  the  company,  many  of  their  self  branded   and  named  brand  produce  is  organic  or  labelled  with  fair  trade,  the  same  issues   of  price  difference  and  using  ethics  to  create  higher  income  for  the  company   could  be  suggested.  However  it  is  questionable  as  to  whose  responsibility  this  is,   some  might  say  its  up  to  governments  who  should  change  laws  disallowing   corporations  from  using  unfair  methods  of  trade,  (2001,  brandchannel.com)   argues   Brands  are  not  guilty  of  social  and  environmental  damage  –  nor  are  they  

Contextual and Theoretical Studies Richard Miles

7


Matthew Tucker

Graphic Design

even a  symbol  of  unethical  working  practice  Corporations  are  guilty  and   laws  that  allow  unethical  practice  are  guilty     When  analyzing  brand  behaviour  of  the  Co-­‐operative,  its  ethical  values  are   consistent  with  the  rest  of  the  corporation.  The  ethos  behind  the  organization  is   based  around  being  a  fair  and  beneficial  part  of  the  community.  The  Co-­‐operative   website  (2008)  states  that  they  are  involved  in  multiple  schemes  to  help  benefit   local  communities  and  environmental  progress,  just  to  name  one  they  support   saving  the  world  bees  because  of  their  positive  impact  on  the  environment.   Again  although  these  initiatives  could  be  said  to  have  underlying  intent,  the  more   the  organization  raises  the  more  attention  the  cause  gets,  in  turn  the  more   money  will  be  raised.     In  conclusion  of  the  composing  four  vectors  in  relation  to  The  Co-­‐operative,  it  is   obvious  that  they  entice  customers  through  healthy,  ethical  connotations  but   they  do  stand  strong  in  their  effort  to  apply  their  values  to  the  rest  of  the   corporate  world.  Essentially  it’s  very  hard  for  such  a  large  corporation  to  be   ethical,  because  of  the  constant  demand  from  customers  after  ever-­‐cheaper   prices.  Again  it  is  always  going  to  be  susceptible  to  opinion  whose  responsibility   corporations  ethical  values  should  be,  if  the  governments  changed  laws  on  trade   and  fair  trade  was  the  corporations  would  have  to  comply.       Because  of  alternating  positions  and  opinions  on  ethics  and  its  unclear   boundaries  it  is  possible  to  analyse  the  brands  ethical  morals  based  on  personal   opinions.  One  side  of  the  argument  is  that  brands  like  the  Co-­‐operative  should  be   allowed  to  use  these  tools  of  manipulation  to  seduce  buyers  as  they  play  a  larger   role  in  raising  equality  in  the  world.  But  at  the  other  end  of  the  spectrum  it  could   be  said  that  these  tools  of  manipulation  are  wrong  and  unfair  on  the   unsuspecting  customer.  Another  argument  is  that  it  is  up  to  the  customers  to   research  into  this  information  and  make  the  decision  for  themselves.     Contextual and Theoretical Studies Richard Miles

8


Matthew Tucker

Graphic Design

In  conclusion  the  Co-­‐operative  does  run  and  rely  on  its  morals  both  for   marketing  and  on  principle  but  whether  it  is  truly  an  ethical  brand  is  susceptive   to  personal  opinion.  This  leaves  brands  in  an  endless  cycle  where  overall   satisfaction  is  near  impossible.  In  conclusion  the  only  way  to  progress  is  for   everyone  to  take  a  more  proactive  role  including  customers,  governments  and   the  corporations  to  avoid  unethical  business.                                    

Contextual and Theoretical Studies Richard Miles

9


Matthew Tucker

Graphic Design

Bibliography Books   DAVID,  M.  (2005)  More  than  a  name,  An  introduction  to  Branding.  Switzerland:   AVA  Publishing   EDWARDS,  H.  &  DAY,  D.  (2005)  Creating  Passion  Brands.  United  Kingdom:  Kogan   Page  Limited   FOOT  P.  (2002)  Theories  of  Ethics.  United  States  of  America:  Oxford  University   Press  Inc   Ind,  N  (2003)  Beyond  Branding.  Great  Britain  &  United  States:  Kogan  Page   Limited   KLIEN,  N  (2000)  No  Logo.  Great  Britain:  Flamingo   LAFOLLETTE,  H.  (ed.)  (2002)  –  The  Blackwell  Guide  to  Ethical  Theory,  Oxford:   Blackwell  Publishing  Ltd   MONSA,  Brand  and  Branding  (2009)  Bilingual  Edition,  United  Kingdom:  Monsa   Publishing   OLINS,  W.  (2003)  On  Brand.  New  York:  Thames  &  Hudson  Inc   ROBINSON,  D.  (1996)  Introducing  Ethics.  United  Kingdom:  Icon  Books  Ltd   SCHULTZ,  M.  &  HATCH  M.J.  &  LARSEN,  M,H  –  The  Expressive  Organisation  2000.   The  United  States:  Oxford  University  Press  Inc   WIEDEMANN,  E.J  (2009)  Brand  Identity  now!.  Germany:  Taschen  GmbH     TV  /  Film   The  Greatest  Movie  Ever  Sold  (2011)  Film.  SPURLOCK,  M.  United  States:  Sony   Picture  Classics   No  Logo  –  Brands,  Globalization  &  Resistance  (2003)  Documentary  Film.  KLIEN,   N.  United  States:  KLIEN,  N     Online  

ELLEE (2001).  The  Co-­‐operative  Revolution  Rebranded.  Ellee  Seymore,  Weblog   (Online)  03/2011  Available  from  http://elleeseymour.com/2011/03/29/the-­‐co-­‐ operative-­‐revolution-­‐rebranded/  (Accessed  24/12/11)     The  Co-­‐operative  (2008)  Ecological  Sustainability,  Webpage.  Available  from   http://www.co-­‐operative.coop/corporate/Sustainability09/ecological-­‐ sustainability/  (Accessed  08/12/11)  

Contextual and Theoretical Studies Richard Miles

10

Is there such a thing as Ethical Branding?  

Is there such a thing as Ethical Branding, with a case study on the Co-operative

Read more
Read more
Similar to
Popular now
Just for you