Dunno if you've noticed but Hindustan Lever (HLL) is now Hindustan Unilever (HUL). And the familiar green logo is now a blue 'U' made of little bits floating in the air.
And each of those bits apparently represents the company's new mission: adding vitality to life. 25 different icons which stand for - 'our brands, our people, our values'.
Not that I would have known, really. Until, as an HUL shareholder, I received this enlightening piece of communication (please click on pics to see enlarged image).
On the one hand, you have general symbols like:
Sun: All life begins with the sun - our primary source of vitality
And specific ones like:
Palm Tree: It produces palm oil as well as many fruits - coconuts and dates - and also symbolises paradise. There are icons for 'Sauces or spreads', 'Lips', 'Ice cream', 'Tea', 'Fish' and even 'Container'...!
Now I am no design expert but my first thought was - should a logo require a two page note to be understood? An ad agency whiz I showed it to remarked,"This looks like a logo designed by a committee... Sab ko khush rakhne ke liye ek ek icon daal diya."
Of course there are some who feel the new identity communicates a 'fresh energy and wonderful texture'. For the ordinary customer, who identifies more with 'Lux' or 'Surf' than the parent brand 'Unilever' I suppose it hardly matters anyways.
Incidentally, the makeover has taken 3 years and over 7 million pounds.
While I do appreciate the need for a behemoth like Unilever to be seen as more 'open and 'friendly' I also think some of the dilemmas facing the company are due to the product categories it operates in.
Soap, detergent, sauce and tea are an important part of our lives. But these aren't categories people are passionate about any more.
Simply put, there is a divide between companies in the digital and non-digital space. “We are used to the idea of a world where change happens in long cycles,” Santosh Desai said to me when I interviewed him for this piece on the role mobile phones play in the lives of young people. “The Internet, and more so, the mobile, give us a sense that the world needs to update itself constantly.”
Companies rooted in real world products can't keep up with that pace. But they will need to. How? Through constant reinvention - even redefinition - of product and purpose.
The logo, I hope, is just a start.