Identity Evolution | Quaker Oats, USA







Brand:               Quaker

Owning Co.:     Quaker Oats Company

Founded:          1901 (through the merger of four oat mills)

Parent Co.:       Pepsico (since 2001)

Headquarters: Chicago, USA

Brief Historical Background:

In 1877, Henry D. Seymour and William Heston founded a mill in Ravenna, Ohio, and named it the Quaker Mill. There are conflicting stories as to how the name came to be. One legend has it that Seymour chose the name after reading an encyclopedia entry on the Quakers:

“The name was chosen when Quaker Mill partner Henry Seymour found an encyclopedia article on Quakers and decided that the qualities described — integrity, honesty, purity — provided an appropriate identity for his company’s oat product.” (Source)

Another story said that Heston was walking on the streets of Cincinnati when he ran across a picture of William Penn, founder of Pennsylvania and a famous Quaker (Source).

In whichever case, later that year the company trademarked the Quaker Man, described as “The figure of a man in Quaker garb.” It was the first US trademark ever registered for a breakfast cereal.

The original 1877 Quaker Man was a full-length picture of a Quaker holding a scroll with the word “pure” on it (just in case the integrity/honesty/purity point didn’t get across). In 1946, graphic designer Jim Nash created a black and white head portrait of the smiling Quaker Man and in 1957, Haddon Sundblom made the full-color portrait. The last update to the logo was in 1972, when Saul Bass created the stylized graphic that still appears on Quaker Oats product packages today.

Just like humans, logos and corporate identity change. From the day they are born, going through toddlerhood, the growing pains of teenage years and rebellion, through to maturing as respectable adults.

Well… it’s not quite the same, as some logos wither and die, some are gobbled up by their rivals, some get married and produce new little “brandettes”, some remain steadfastly the same, while a few are simply reincarnated and brought back to life. The absolute certainty, however, is that change is inevitable. And in the context of branding, the most critical question brand-owners, brand-builders and brand strategist must ask themselves: Is my brand RELEVANT, and is it still THE CHOSEN ONE? Does my brand still resonate with CONSUMERS, and does it still emanate the same message to our audience (our consumers)?

So here’s an interesting look at at the life journey of logos and corporate identity. I’ll let the images tell the story. You be the judge whether they still carry the same message, capture the same meaning, and uphold a brand promise that “speaks” to each individual consumer.

And let me leave you with a fundamental thought: “A Brand is the EMOTIONAL CONNECTION inside YOUR CUSTOMERS’ HEADS… NOT YOURS!” So if you’re CLUELESS about what your customer think of your Brand…. you’d better RUN and JUMP into Social Media, “listen in” on people’s conversations, and find out whether your Brand is HOT or NOT!!

PS: You (or your Brand) may not like Social Media or you don’t possess a remote interest in it… but guess what? Everyone and their barber (and hairdressers) are already “playing” there… and they’re TALKING ABOUT YOUR BRAND WITHOUT YOUR CONTROL! So be a good sport (to yourself) and go out and play…

Inspiration: Amazing Data

About dianhasan

Brand Storyteller, Travel Writer, Speaker, Creative Writer & Thinker - avid observer of randomness in everyday life - Sustainable Business, Eco Matters, Sustainable Urban Issues, Architecture, Heritage Conservation, Innovation & Brand-Strategy, Cross-Cultural Communications, Travel, Tourism & Lifestyle.
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