Lisa Hurwitz, VP/global brand design at Kimberly-Clark, discussed this subject during a session at the Association of National Advertisers’ (ANA) 2018 Brand Masters Conference.
“Over the past three years, we’ve been very focused on moving design from what we call the ‘decoration station’ to design thinking – what we call a ‘brand-design approach’,” she said. (For more details, read WARC's in-depth report: How Kleenex blew out its brand message softly and powerfully.)
She pointed to an example from Kleenex’s ‘Someone Needs One’ campaign, where the adjoining ‘e’s in the middle of the brand’s name became animated to fulfil its promise of reaching out – with a tissue – to someone in need.
“We did a lot of equity research on [the] equities in that mark … What he had done was unlock opportunities for us to think about how we modernise the brand,” Hurwitz said.
And, she allowed, “even though that logo is incredibly iconic, if you lock it up and only do it in blue and in one way, you’re going to lose consumers. It becomes like wallpaper.”
In fact, Hurwitz asserted, something that seems as small as a fine-tuned logo – “actually, a big unlock for us” – might help set the stage for even more new brand directions for Kleenex and other Kimberly-Clark brands.
For Kleenex in the recent past, she admitted, “Our approach to design had been to swap out wrappers, do designer collaborations, do seasonal themes, do different things, but within the same structure.
“These were relevant for [the] short-term. They don’t create this lasting equity that can really start to reverse that sales decline.”
Looking ahead, a key question for brands such as Kleenex to address is: “How do you go out to tell people the story we want to tell?”
Hurwitz’s answer: “I think you’re going to see more from us in terms of allowing this kind of creative freedom within our brand marks.
“We’re now using design as a strategic driver for the business, not just a graphics style. For a company like Kimberly-Clark that’s been around for 150 years, that’s a hard thing to do. But we’re going to be doing more and more of it.”
Sourced from WARC