Sellotape. Hoover. Biro. iPhone. Dettol. Post-it Note.
These are all brands whose brand identity is positioned so perfectly, they are completely ingrained in the public consciousness. In many cases, they have even become generic trademarks.
Brand identity is essentially how a company presents itself and how it wishes to be perceived by the audience. In contrast, brand image is how the audience actually sees the brand and how they respond. Most marketing problems arise when there is a disconnect between brand identity and brand image.
Crucially, brand identity comprises of both the tangible and intangible elements of a brand – what you can see, touch and remember. A brand’s physical parts could include the logo, strapline, imagery and typography, amongst others. Less obvious things within the brand identity include the tone of voice used and the personality of the brand – such as what might see and read on social media. Together, all of these different elements form the brand.
Sellotape’s Brand Success Story
Some brands have balanced all of these elements so well, we can’t imagine life without them and their products. Last time you wrapped a present, did you reach for the “Sellotape” or the “sticky tape”? They’re essentially the same thing but you almost certainly call it the former. Sellotape is a British brand with nationwide name recognition. It even features in the Oxford English Dictionary! Interestingly, the same phenomenon has occurred in the USA and Canada. There, the brand Scotch Tape is used ubiquitously to refer to sticky tape.
When a German company, Henkel Consumer Adhesives, bought the brand in 2002, they recognised the superior position Sellotape holds within the market. As a result, when they began promoting the brand on television again in 2003, following a 25 year absence, they did so with a focus on Sellotape’s position in the public consciousness. They wished to remind the audience that Sellotape is in fact a brand, not a generic product term.
At the time, Mike Raynor (Sales and Marketing Director) stated: “Sellotape’s fame as a product is a great asset, but the name is so widely used that we felt the need to re-establish it as a brand, positioning it in the market as the original and best adhesive tape.”
So, will you be using your rollerball point pen on any generic yellow sticky note pads today, or moving your vacuum cleaner around the house whilst spraying a non-brand specific antibacterial spray across your kitchen counters?! Ah we could have so much fun with this.