Branding and a Swing Out ‘Auld Lang Syne’ from Andy Connell

For brands in 2013, change it up, but don’t change it at all. Keep your brand the same, but switch it up a bit to keep it fresh. That is easier said than done, as to one person, “change” is good and to another, you ruin the product by changing anything. So many brands miss it here. The Miami Dolphins are considering changing their logo. Why oh why? Campbell’s changes its soup labels. Why oh why?

One way to think about this issue is to look at music. Above, and through the wonder of Facebook, I found a just posted blurry piano rendition of Andy Connell of Swing Out Sister playing “Auld Lang Syne.” Frankly, the song has become too much of a cliche; even thought its great, you sort of associate it with having to be near drunk people you don’t like. But the above version is pretty nifty, and that is to be expected from a musician like Connell. It’s actually got me liking the old song again.

Auld Lang Syne is a perfect metaphor for the old brand name; it’s long, long since its prime and it’s filled with memory and history, but little else.

This relates directly to brands. Below, a few ways to freshen brands without ruining the original, taking inspiration from Connell’s version.

  1. Keep the melody the same. Always keep the product aligned with the original writer and composer’s instructions. You don’t have to follow things exactly, but you need to stay within the parameters of the original author, and what people expect. You need to deliver the old melody.
  2. Add riffs. In the above version, Connell adds some jazz flourishes that bridge verses. This is a way to make a new brand fresh, adding new features, but keeping the original “tune” intact so the reference point doesn’t get lost.
  3. Change up the key. While the melody is the same, playing the song in a new key helps to make the song sound fresher without alienating fans. So perhaps a temporary tweak of packaging, then back to the original? That makes the product look fresh, but then lets the consumer back into the comfort zone.
  4. Keep the words the same. Be careful when you mess with any new wording. That’s a danger area. In this case, there was no singing, and that made it new.
  5. Find new chords: The melody, the structure, always has to stay the same for people to enjoy a classic product. But new chords added to a song allow you to experience the product in a new way. In the case of a consumer brand, perhaps you add products that relate to the original, but don’t change it.
  6. Consider a tempo change. Part of the genius of the above version is that the tempo gives it some variety. In the case of a consumer product brand, the parallel might be in delivery and distribution. Maybe the product doesn’t change at all, but the method or speed of delivery does? That makes a brand “new” without making a change to it.
  7. Strip it down. Here, the song gets taken back to a simple piano version. No words, no other instruments, just a piano. When a brand gets cluttered and annoying, perhaps taking it back to the original allows consumers to see the brand fresh again?

Just some thoughts for the New Year. Meantime, don’t screw up your brand in 2013.


  • Garland Pollard

    J. Garland Pollard IV is editor/publisher of BrandlandUSA. Since 2006, the website has chronicled the history and business of America’s great brands.

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