The Snack Spread That Would Not Die

Devon Thomas Treadwell | Branding,branding debacles,Line Extensions,Naming | Thursday, October 1st, 2009

Turns out the product will remain in Kraft’s Vegemite line, but will be renamed. That’s reasonable.

However, Kraft says that it has culled a short list from names submitted during the contest and will–wait for it–conduct a survey and choose whatever the public tells them to.

Again, instead of evaluating these name options on a set of relevant criteria that affects how well the brand name will perform in the marketplace, they’re just going to leave it to whatever the public likes.

“Rest assured, Kraft’s hands are off it,” spokesman Simon Talbot told the Brisbane Times. “The public can have their say and it won’t have anything to do with us.”

This reeks of “we just want this problem to go away,” but still I’m dumbfounded that a company the size of Kraft would so completely relinquish its opportunity to create this brand.

Although Kraft isn’t saying which names will be voted on, there’s a short list on its Web site with names some believe are front runners:

Golden Mite
Wow Chow
Moo in Mud
Vegemite blonde

If I were Kraft, I’d want this problem to go away, too. But now it appears the company is going to live with this branding mistake for the lifetime of the product.

iSnack 2.0 — The World’s Shortest Shelf Life

Devon Thomas Treadwell | Branding,branding debacles,Line Extensions,Naming | Wednesday, September 30th, 2009

iSnack 2.0Kraft announced today that it is discontinuing its new iSnack 2.0 product.

A line extension to Kraft’s venerable Vegemite spread–which has enjoyed decades-long popularity in Australia–iSnack 2.0 had a sad, short life characterized by a one-day fanfare followed by a three-day shower of rotten tomatoes.

Last week, Kraft Foods had proudly announced that its new product–a spread made of Vegemite and creamed cheese–had been named after a three-month, nationwide contest which provided more than 48,000 choices.

The winning name, iSnack 2.0, touched off an immediate worldwide reaction. Widely panned by industry experts and consumers alike, the iSnack 2.0 brand name is a textbook example of how not to do branding.

The problem wasn’t the contest, per se. Good brand names can come from anywhere–including contest entrants. But without a robust, valid means of evaluating name options, managers who are way too close to their brands can’t tell shit from Shinola. And as with any kind of naming contest, there’s a high risk that there may not be any Shinola coming in with the shit.

It astounds me that, in this age of dwindling trademark availability and a glutted brand landscape, some large companies are still having contests to find brand names for their products. Should “the single most important marketing decision you can make” really be left to chance like that? Do they use crowdsourcing to write their marketing and media plans, too?

Doctors bury their mistakes. Advertisers broadcast theirs. And then YouTube makes sure they go viral. How’d you like to be that product manager?

“Outer Space” is the New Black

Devon Thomas Treadwell | Branding,Line Extensions,Naming | Thursday, April 9th, 2009 provides a handy list of all 120 current Crayola crayon colors (along with their hex and RGB values).

And while we’re in the crayon box, check out this full list of crayon colors and the years they were added or deleted. I can remember the thrill of getting that fat box of 64 colors, which included a built-in sharpener and  a crayon called “Flesh.” When its name was changed to “Peach” in 1962, it was probably my first lesson in racial sensitivity.

Other colors dropped from the box since my childhood coloring days: Maize, Lemon Yellow, Blue Gray, Raw Umber, Green Blue, Orange Red, Orange Yellow and Violet Blue. (How can anyone color without Raw Umbrage–er, I mean Umber?)

Along the way from its original package of 8 crayons to today’s bountiful box of 120 colors, Crayola recognized the limitations of using actual spectrum color names, which are broad and abstract, and began using metaphors in their naming strategy.

Among the newest crayons in today’s box: Mango Tango, Jazzberry Jam, Inch Worm and Wild Blue Yonder.

On a related note,does anyone think this is a good idea?

Crayola Coolerz

This is a line extension that fails to leverage Crayola’s core brand essence–creativity and play. It’s just a beverage. While it may catch a child’s eye as he’s passing by in a shopping cart, Crayola branding does nothing for a juice cooler, and a juice cooler does nothing to enhance the Crayola brand.

Plus,  I’m no longer 8 years old, but still–the thought of drinking a crayon is, well, yucky.

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