• This Bud’s Not for Me

    by  • November 7, 2011 • Branding, Marketing

    Recently I bought a case of Budweiser with the new can design. Because I had a few of the old cans in the refrigerator I conducted a side-by-side comparison through the eye of a marketer. The comparison raised a couple of brand trivia questions. How many brand icons and slogans appeared on the old can? How many of those do you think have been removed?

    I readily admit that the new design is simpler, certainly cleaner. However, I think Anheuser-Busch has relinquished the familiar and powerful red and white design that has epitomized the brand’s long and impressive heritage. Surely, I’m not the only marketer to see it this way. A-B has a challenge. Budweiser sales have been in a slump for some time. The solution is to change something; usually it’s the advertising or the advertising agency. This time, InBev, who bought AB in 2008 decided to throw new package graphics at the problem. I think they’re going to be disappointed with the result.

    Back to those two trivia questions. It may surprise you, but the former can carries eight Anheuser-Busch brand icons and/or slogans. That’s right. Eight. One can argue that we have a case of a marketer hanging on to USPs (unique selling propositions) of the past. But for Bud, these icons represent the sum of the parts – the well-differentiated heritage of a great “American” brand. Excluding fonts and colors, here’s the list and my take on the icon/slogan’s intended value:

    1. The 46-word barely legible “Budweiser Creed” (expertise)
    2. The World Renowned (heritage)
    3. King of Beers (superiority)
    4. Beechwood Aging (expertise)
    5. The “Bowtie” design element (heritage)
    6. The Crown icon (superiority)
    7. The Anheuser-Busch Medallion (heritage)
    8. The A-B Eagles (heritage)

    And the answer to the 2nd trivia question? Every one of those icons appears on the new can, but you’ll have to look a lot harder to find all of them. And don’t be shy; tell me if I’ve missed any on either can design.

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    Formerlife: Jacobs Suchard CEO (Kraft, Nabob), Strategy Consultant. Afterlife: Palgrave Macmillan Author, Historical Novelist, Business Journalist

    2 Responses to This Bud’s Not for Me

    1. November 10, 2011 at 4:48 am

      As I always suggest to my clients, don’t change your brand (or name) unless you are forced to. Instead, first change what you do for the customer. Brand makeovers are often a superficial response to change that’s required at a deeper level.
      Unfortunately for Bud, there’s not a lot they can change if their part of the beer segment is in decline. So, it’s a share trading game. I agree with your points, though I also like the changes. I would make them over time, not all at once. Coca-Cola learned what happens when do do a 180 on customers with the launched New-Coke.

    2. John
      November 11, 2011 at 7:50 am

      I’m seeing this change as not much more than “tinkering” – my personal preference is for the old can. That said, the new design won’t increase or decrease their user base. InBev need something far more consumer-relevant than messing with package graphics. Appreciate your views, Alan.