Feel the love…

With Valentine’s day looming, brands have a great excuse to jump on a new campaign brand-wagon. (albeit a short-lived one). Heineken Italy, for example, has timed the launch of its new ‘Beer Gloss’ lip gloss for women with this romantic occasion. Fine for a quick kiss maybe but what’s the secret to everlasting love?

Without even a nod of the head to St Valentine, P&G has just relaunched a limited edition of its original and iconic white and green Fairy Liquid bottle and you can feel the love swelling around the country. The classic design was last seen on shelf 10 years ago and will strike a chord with people for a variety of reasons: the Blue Peter generation will remember the 101 ‘make and do’ uses of an empty bottle, many will be delighted to see Nanette Newman back on screen to front the retro ads featuring the bottle and others will just cherish the meaning and memories associated with this mighty little bottle.


And this relaunch got us thinking about the power of icons – or rather the power of iconic design. We believe that it’s a fair assumption to make that every brand owner wants to create the next all-important iconic brand. But, how do you creatively develop an iconic brand? And – more importantly – once you’ve reached that iconic status how do you keep it?


Fact: brands need to use design to stay fresh. Design is, of course, the most important element in conveying truths that brands stand for and which, in turn, creates the consumer desire for them. But the dilemma is not just how to stay focused on their brand truth but answer new moral and cultural needs.

Iconic brands can evolve by taking bold creative steps but, the fact is, their future depends on where the connection is with its past. Fairy — like say Kellogg’s or Coca-Cola — may have made subtle changes to their marque, the design of the brand name or the structure (in Fairy’s case with a move to PET bottles) to make it more modern and relevant but have never strayed from their brand and product heritage or overcomplicated their offer.  The ‘baby’ icon and ‘mild green’ is ownable to Fairy Liquid and has made the brand synonymous with washing up – and has actually become the genericized trademark for washing up. The iconic design has been reinvented, and evolved, at key moments in time, but has still managed to capture the true spirit and authenticity of the original.

And now, the revival of the original bottle is strengthened through a design evolution that puts the baby icon inside the dominant and so important 50th Anniversary message writ large in retro script. The reason people love Fairy is because of what it stands for. It doesn’t attach itself to fashionable ‘issues’, it doesn’t challenge to look edgy – it challenges because it believes something very strongly and strongly represents this through its brand identity. A backward step to take the brand once again into the future with (potentially) a new audience?

True icons will be loved forever and live on if their ideas remain relevant and connected. It’s about preserving and cherishing the right part of the visual brand equity. The part of the visual brand equity that taps into and expresses our deepest feelings and inspires the essential love and connection in the consumer that icons need to survive and grow.

Don’t be cynical. Get loved up. Love can make your icon grow – or help your challenger brand grow into an icon. I ‘Heart’ Design.

Jonathan Ford, Creative Partner Pearlfisher