Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Straw poll answers, and branding intentionality

Okay, here are where these straws are from:
- a green straw: Starbucks
- a white straw with red and yellow stripes: McDonald's
- a red straw: Burger King
- a white straw with yellow stripes: Wendy's
- a black straw: Panera
- an orange straw with pink stripes: Dunkin' Donuts
- a blue straw: Culver's
- a white straw: Subway
When I used this exercise at the Willow Creek conference last week, since folks were from all over the country, some of the guesses were things like Whattaburger, Sonic, In-N-Out and Carl's Jr. Funny to hear regional variances. The one person who correctly identified the Culver's straw was from Wheaton, Illinois.

Several of these straws had the brand name and logo preprinted on the wrappers. Only a few chains had generic translucent straws with plain white wrappers - Chipotle, Boston Market, maybe Quiznos. Most restaurants had straws with color schemes that reinforced their brand identities.

It's scary to me how distinctive and intentional the branding is. If I say "little pink plastic spoon," you know it's from Baskin Robbins. If you see a yellow napkin, chances are you'll recognize it as being from Wendy's. Remember sporks from KFC?

I remember during grad school one of my media theory classes analyzed a Pepsi commercial featuring Cindy Crawford, and we noted that her white tank top, blue jeans shorts and red car reinforced the white, blue and red color scheme of the Pepsi can. That had to have been intentional (and was probably also a not-so-subtle appeal to American patriotism). Later on, Pepsi made their cans blue, in an attempt to claim blue as their brand identity the way that Coca-Cola has claimed red. (And though it is an urban legend that Coca-Cola created Santa Claus to reinforce their ubiquitous red and white look, Coca-Cola's advertising certainly helped popularize images of the red-and-white Santa.)


Anonymous said...

Hey Al -- Loved the straw poll. I read the answers before I tried taking the test. But your point was made all the same. Made me think of the "branding" I would like to do of myself as a Christian. Am I as thorough as the fast food chains in making sure I demonstrate Christ all the way down to the straw?

L.L. Barkat said...

I am obviously a brand nerd; none of these rang a bell to me. Or maybe I just don't use straws.