Two born-again brands: one yells, one whispers

One went from blue to red, the other cut back on red to concentrate on blue. And the differences between the corporate image make-overs by Xerox and Pepsi don't stop there.

The soft drink company launched its new look in April amid much fanfare and a specially painted (blue, of course) Air France Concorde.

The photocopier firm, by contrast, quietly tacked its revamped identity, The Document Company, on to press releases announcing a new printer. It was two years before a red X was introduced as the new logo. Three years later few members of the general public have even noticed.

There are similarities, though. For example, the two New York based companies hired the same image consultant, Landor Associates. Both were inspired by pep talks from top executives at management retreats. And both, though they wouldn't want to admit it, are undertaking a process made fashionable with lots of business school jargon.

The biggest similarity is that the two companies are totally committed to their new identities. Millions have been spent promoting them, and executive careers are on the line. If the practice catches on, others could follow. Barclays Bank might switch from turquoise to shocking pink, and Hoover could advertise itself as The Domestic Implements Company. The question is: which route, if either, should they follow?

Pepsi began its "Project Blue" with a call from chairman and chief executive Chris Sinclair for a "revolutionary transformation" to counter the pressure from own-label brands.

But executives at the company were acutely aware of the potential hazards of messing with a profitable formula. Coca-Cola had taken a beating a decade earlier when it tried to replace its flagship brand with a new recipe. The lesson was that Pepsi's unlikely product - essentially a fizzy brown sugar water - would stay unchanged.

John Swanhaus, a senior vice president, was assigned to lead a team looking at the way Pepsi was displayed around the world. One boardroom in the marketing department became a gallery holding thousands of snapshots of vending machines and shop shelves. They were impressed by the success of Pepsi Max, in a blue can, and of cool blue displays from the Middle East. The team began to think of expanding its remit from displays to product packaging. "We had a meeting with Sinclair and I presented the idea of owning a colour," says Swanhaus. "I told them what we needed was a gut check to see whether we had the stomach to go ahead."

They did, and 3,000 rough sketches were made, discussed, discarded. A few made it through to customer focus groups. One, the winner, made it all the way to a trial in Bahrain last year, prompting industry rumours.

The new look is supposed to create a feeling that Pepsi is youthful and refreshing. Youth, at least, is a tactic that has worked for the company in the past. The Pepsi Generation, much trumpeted in the early 1970s, is well into middle age.

The Xerox story started in much the same way, with a project led by now-chairman Paul Allaire looking at the future direction of the company. It could have been just the latest in a long series of grandiose false starts. The company is best known for inventing brilliant devices - fax machines, personal computers, mice and computer networks - only to see their rivals commercialise them.

While the new image did not involve a radical technological invention, it did represent a change in direction. The company had already started to expand its line of products so that it could handle digital documents at all stages, including creation, storage and transmission. The new name was supposed to focus staff attention on how customers would use the system, rather than on the hardware and software.

If Xerox was cautious in creating its new image, it had the advantage of being able to make substantive changes under the new banner. And as new products roll out, including planned desktop printers aimed more at the domestic market, the company's profile should be raised.

Xerox insists its change was not one of branding, but of corporate culture, while Pepsi freely admits it was trying to create a younger image for a company that is almost a century old. Typically, Pepsi is already claiming a gain of two percentage points of market share in the UK since the relaunch. And typically, Xerox is more modest, admitting it can't quantify how much of its sales are due to the new focus.

Voices
A Russian hunter at the Medved bear-hunting lodge in Siberia
Save the tigerWildlife charities turn to those who kill animals to help save them
News
Davis says: 'My career has been about filling a niche - there were fewer short actors and fewer roles – but now I'm being offered all kinds of things'
PeopleWarwick Davis on Ricky Gervais, Harry Potter and his perfect role
News
i100
Sport
Frank Lampard will pass Billy Wright and equal Bobby Charton’s caps tally of 106 caps against
sportFormer Chelsea midfielder in Etihad stopgap before New York contract
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
The first film introduced Daniel Radcliffe to our screens, pictured here as he prepares to board the train to Hogwarts for the first time.
booksHow reading Harry Potter helps children grow up to be gay-friendly
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from Aladdin is performed at the Tony Awards in New York in June
theatreBrit producer Lythgoe makes kids' musical comedy a Los Angeles hit
Sport
Usain Bolt of Jamaica smiles and shakes hands with a competitor after Jamaica won their first heat in the men's 4x100m relay
sport
News
Chancellor George Osborne, along with the Prime Minister, have been 'complacently claiming the economy is now fixed', according to shadow Chancellor Ed Balls
i100... which is awkward, because he is their boss, after all
Life and Style
A small bag of the drug Ecstasy
Health
Life and Style
Floral-print swim shorts, £26, by Topman, topman.com; sunglasses, £215, by Paul Smith, mpaulsmith.co.uk
FashionBag yourself the perfect pair
News
news
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
News
Netherlands' goalkeeper Tim Krul fails to make a save from Costa Rica's midfielder Celso Borges during a penalty shoot-out in the quarter-final between Netherlands and Costa Rica during the 2014 FIFA World Cup
newsGoalkeepers suffer from 'gambler’s fallacy' during shoot-outs
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Standing the test of time: Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd in 'Back to the Future'
filmReview: A week late, Secret Cinema arrives as interactive screening goes Back to the Future
Extras
indybest
News
i100
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Financial Analyst - Forecasting - Yorkshire

£300 - £350 per day: Orgtel: Financial Analyst, Forecasting, Halifax, Banking,...

Business Architect - Bristol - £500 per day

£500 per day: Orgtel: Business Architect - Banking - Bristol - £500 per day A...

Regulatory Reporting-MI-Bank-Cardiff-£300/day

£200 - £500 per day + competitive: Orgtel: I am currently working on a large p...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Birmingham - Real Staffing

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Real Staffing are currently lo...

Day In a Page

Save the Tiger: Meet the hunters tasked with protecting Russia's rare Amur tiger

Hunters protect Russia's rare Amur tiger

In an unusual move, wildlife charities have enlisted those who kill animals to help save them. Oliver Poole travels to Siberia to investigate
Transfers: How has your club fared in summer sales?

How has your club fared in summer sales?

Who have bagged the bargain buys and who have landed the giant turkeys
Warwick Davis: The British actor on Ricky Gervais, how the Harry Potter set became his office, and why he'd like to play a spy

'I'm a realist; I know how hard this business is'

Warwick Davis on Ricky Gervais, Harry Potter and his perfect role
The best swim shorts for men: Bag yourself the perfect pair and make a splash this summer

The best swim shorts for men

Bag yourself the perfect pair and make a splash this summer
Has Ukip’s Glastonbury branch really been possessed by the devil?

Has Ukip’s Glastonbury branch really been possessed by the devil?

Meet the couple blamed for bringing Lucifer into local politics
Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

Robert Fisk on Gaza conflict

Dress the situation up all you like, but the truth hurts
Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
5 News's Andy Bell retraces his grandfather's steps on the First World War battlefields

In grandfather's footsteps

5 News's political editor Andy Bell only knows his grandfather from the compelling diary he kept during WWI. But when he returned to the killing fields where Edwin Vaughan suffered so much, his ancestor came to life
Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot ... to take photos of her farm

Martha Stewart has flying robot

The lifestyle guru used the drone to get a bird's eye view her 153-acre farm in Bedford, New York
Former Labour minister Meg Hillier has demanded 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists

Do women cyclists need 'pootling lanes'?

Simon Usborne (who's more of a hurtler) explains why winning the space race is key to happy riding
A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

A tale of two presidents

George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover

The dining car makes a comeback

Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover
Gallery rage: How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?

Gallery rage

How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?
Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players

Eye on the prize

Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
Women's rugby: Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup

Women's rugby

Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup