The same but different: how Unilever’s branding lives from the heart
Why does Unilever use different words to accompany the Heartbrand logo when the standard advice is to use trade marks in a consistent and uniform way?
Unilever is the world’s largest ice-cream maker and is the producer of the longstanding and well-respected Wall's brand.
The Wall’s Collection includes favourites such as Cornetto, Viennetta and Carte D’or, as well as the traditional classic Wall's ice cream.
Accompanying each of the Wall's brands is the easily recognisable and highly distinctive Heartbrand logo.
Unilever’s philosophy is simple: 'Live from the Heart!' and wherever customers see the Heartbrand logo around the world, it means “here there’s joy!”.
The Heartbrand Logo
The Heartbrand logo brings the various names together and allows customers to identify that the different brands are all part of the same group.
The principal function of the logo, as is the case for any trade mark, is to identify Unilever as the source of the goods.
Trade marks play a role in communicating standards of quality as well as the company’s core values. Consumer recognition is a trade mark ultimately fosters goodwill and customer trust in the brand.
Unilever’s strategy of using the same logo across a range of ice cream brands means that the resulting goodwill can be shared across Unilever’s ice cream network.
A customer may also be more likely to try an unfamiliar ice cream if it carries the same logo as a product which they know and enjoy. Therefore, by using a consistent and harmonised logo, the recognition, reputation and value in the separate Unilever brands work together.
Typically, branding advice centres around a persistent and consistent brand message. This is to obtain easier and more efficient traction in the marketplace and to obtain higher levels of customer recognition.
However, whilst Wall's is used across the UK and in parts of Asia, in other countries where Unilever sells ice cream, you will not find Wall's ice cream.
In Italy, it is called Algida, whereas, in Germany, the name Langnese is used. Good Humor is the USA equivalent and in Brazil, the brand is Kibon.
So why does Unilever use all these different word trade marks to accompany the Heartbrand logo when all the ‘standard advice’ is to use trade marks in a consistent and uniform way?
The Wall's trade mark has been used in the UK by Unilever in relation to ice cream since 1922. It is well known and highly regarded. If Algida suddenly appeared in the freezers in its place, nearly 100 years of goodwill in British ice cream would be lost.
Unilever has purchased a number of local or regional ice cream businesses from around the world. Each of these brands has its own story and loyal customer following.
Each word mark is accompanied by the omnipresent Heartbrand logo. This means that the brands are tied together by a common visual identity whilst, at the same time, retaining its own reputation and customer following.
Wall’s was started by Richard Wall as a butcher business in 1786 which is where the name comes from. However, Algida means “icy” in Italian. As a purveyor of ice cream, that seems to be more than a coincidence. Different word marks can be used in different countries because of translations and associated meanings.
The same name may not be available in all territories. Names may be selected and pursued in new territories with the ice cream giant favouring the path of least resistance. Ice cream is a competitive market, with Nestlé and Unilever battling for the top spot every year. Having a range of brands allows greater flexibility in brand adoption.
There is something comfortingly traditional about the idea of having a local ice cream on a pleasant day.
As consumer preferences shift more prominently to supporting local and smaller businesses, it works in Unilever’s favour to present a myriad of brands which are linked to a particular part of the world.
At the same time, holidaymakers can recognise the Heartbrand logo and choose a related ice cream to what they recognise from their home market.
The Heartbrand logo spans all languages and cultures, allowing the giant ice cream network to benefit from the collective goodwill in the different brands and products. However, the different word marks used by Unilever contain the history and localised reputation of each of the former brands.
This strategy satisfies both the customer’s longing for local brands and the quality of the product but also the comfort of something recognisable when overseas. It is a good example of adopting different brand strategies to satisfy the sometimes-conflicting priorities of Unilever’s customer base.Read more food and drink insight
Senior Trade Mark Attorney and IP Solicitor, HGF Limited