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Going bananas over brand equity and creativity

by Nigel Hollis | October 04, 2010

My Dad has a weird habit. He likes to end his dinner with some cheese, crackers, and a piece of fruit. That’s not the weird bit. What is weird is that he removes the logo sticker from the fruit — be it an apple, orange, or banana — and sticks it on the box which contains the crackers. That plastic box is now covered in fruit brand stickers. Weird as I find this behavior, apparently my Dad is not alone. The inspiration for a campaign created by Chiquita bananas came from seeing what people did with the brand’s stickers.

I learnt this when Google Alerts pointed me to this post reporting an interview with art director, DJ Neff,  one of the architects of the campaign.

Essentially, the campaign takes the little blue stickers featuring Chiquita’s iconic logo, and evolves it into a series of new stickers with funky faces. Add the line "Don’t Let Another Good Banana Go Bad," a micro site that contains viral videos, a sticker generator, and a 3D flash game called Banana Boogie Battle, and you have a whole new spin on Chiquita bananas. A new campaign has launched more recently where people can design and make their own stickers.

The campaigns are definitely fun, but what really caught my attention was the way DJ talked about the importance of brand equity and the role of creativity. (See my last post on the definition of brand equity here) Here is what DJ had to say about brand equity:

I think brand equity is a pretty simple notion: unique value. Sometimes it’s an easy to see value, like the Chiquita stickers, or sometimes it can be harder to recognize, like an old forgotten tagline that was abandoned because of changing fads. This is where my job gets fun, in discovering unique traits a brand has to build on, even if they may be lost in the marketing shuffle over the years.

The idea of unique value is an important one. After all, unless a brand can create unique value for its consumers, they will have little desire to buy it, and no reason to pay a premium for it. This is not to say that a brand can ignore all the other things that make it successful — great product, great logistics, and motivated staff to name a few — but ultimately there has to be something that differentiates the brand from the competition. It could be a product feature, an ideal, or just a simple sticker, but there has to be something which adds unique value. Often, as DJ suggests, this unique trait may have helped the brand become successful, but then it has been lost over the years.

When he talks about creativity, I find DJ refreshingly down-to-earth:

…the more open the brief, the more you have to do to check yourself creatively. It can be easy to get caught up in a landslide of slick executions or fad creative wrappers. These kinds of approaches often do little for the campaign’s longevity or brand image in the future.

Marketing communication is the application of creativity to a specific end: creating impressions which drive behavior. It is not just about being the coolest, winning peer approval, or, for that matter, generating the highest pre-test score. It is about creating and sustaining ideas and impressions which build the brand, and help it command a price premium over the long-term.

DJ puts his ideas on brand equity and creativity together as follows:

The great thing about looking hard at something the brand already owns, no matter how small, is that there is usually a cultural recognition there already. With some application of this value to an idea you have, it creates a familiar association with an unfamiliar dynamic, therefore creating intrigue in the viewer — much like pop art does.

In other words, creativity applied to brand equity refreshes and reframes what the brand stands for in people’s minds. Nice one, DJ.


Leave a comment
  1. Jbueso, October 14, 2010
    It would be interesting to find out what young kids do with the stickers. It's one thing for an adult to try something that might be considered odd and a completely different thing to see what an 8 year old would do when presented with a peculiar situation. We might find new campaigns to promote to a new market segment. Maybe, who knows...
  2. Trevor A, October 05, 2010
    I guess I'm opening a new bag of bananas here, but by not being fairtrade and by putting small West Indian producers at risk Chiquita is seen by those in the know as the bad boy of the banana world - and no marketing can overcome that (at least in the UK!)
  3. AJ, October 05, 2010
    I have a selection of Golden Delicious stickers on the scratch plate of my guitar.  I'm not sure your dad is weird.

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