Can your brand stand up to being naked?

by Matthew Lloyd

Remove all the fancy colours, fonts and imagery and leave only your company name. Would your customers still know you? Is your brand strong enough to stand up to being naked? Hold up! before you go and make drastic changes to that gorgeous logo and brand you and your designer spent a lot of time and money on, let me stop you right there. We’re talking theoretically here.

When this conversation first came up in the QD studio, we were actually talking about the job interview process. You see, competition is fierce in the job sector and it’s not just your resume that’s the focus, these days, it’s sad to say, you’re looks, voice, nationality, everything about you is taken into consideration. The same is true for business, today it’s no longer about having the best product but customers are more savvy than ever and want to know about the company behind the product, making your brand and its values more important than ever.

This got us thinking about what would happen if you removed the brand “fancies” and only focused on the facts. Would companies choose different interview candidates? Would your brand stand up to its competition? It’s an interesting through and one that one of the worlds biggest brands, Coca Cola recently experimented with. Encouraging people not to judge each other based on their appearance, Coca Cola Middle East, removed the name from their cans, replacing it with the words “Labels are for cans not for people”. Yes, they left their iconic shiny red with white swirl, which some might argue goes completely against the campaign itself, but the message is strong and should be the focus.

The Unbranding by Quirk Design
Encouraging people not to judge each other based on their appearance - Coca-Cola Middle East // Image courtesy Business Insider

Taking this idea to a different level, we wondered what it would be like if the job interview became “unbranded”? Would companies still pick the same candidates? Would it make competition even more fierce? Would our education systems need to change to make sure all future job seekers are equal? I know it sounds crazy, and they say looks don’t matter, but it sure would be an interesting experiment.

Let’s just imagine that your resume contains no personal information or facts. No age, birth dates, genders, likes or dislikes, starting every applicant on the same page. Employment and training facts only. Now comes the really interesting part. What if the interview process itself was blind?
The interviewer nor the interviewees could see one another, and to make it even less bias, the candidates voice would be disguised so that nothing personal, be it race, gender, age, etc can be attributed to the candidates skills, experience and talents.
I know what you’re saying, and I too am completely disgusted by the idea that your gender, race or looks can stop you from landing a job, but it’s a sad fact of the modern world that there are still too many companies that will only hire a certain type of person, regardless of qualifications and skills.

Looking at it from another perspective, how would un-branding your business make your customers react? Take the supermarket for instance; brands as far as the eye can see, but what happens if suddenly overnight, every package was white with back text, same font, no pictures, same prices! Would there be chaos? Probably not, but you can bet that your company values will make an enormous difference to the choices people made.
I guess the point we’re trying to make is that your brand is not just the perfectly illustrated logo, its in the materials you use, the way you run your business and the values you operate under.