Visual branding depends on consistency. Emerging businesses go to great lengths to develop a compelling, unique logo – from the design to the font and the colors – and to represent it uniformly across multiple platforms and types of use. After all, brand recognition is vital and can’t be achieved without visibility and consistency.
That’s why it was surprising to see that one of the most recognized brand logos in the apparel market was diversifying. However, Lacoste’s decision to mix it up and stray from its iconic green crocodile logo has actually created more visibility, and not just for the brand.
Save Our Species
The French fashion company, founded in 1933 by tennis legend René Lacoste, has demonstrated remarkable consistency over its 86 year history. Lacoste’s first advertised product, a white polo shirt emblazoned with an embroidered green crocodile, looks almost identical to what shoppers can find on store shelves today. But last year, for the first time in the brand’s history, the crocodile was replaced for a limited run of polo shirts bearing a redesigned logo.
Through a three year partnership with the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), Lacoste launched its Save Our Species campaign, in which limited editions of its famous shirts are created with a new logo representing one of ten critically endangered animal species each year. Each logo is released in limited quantities that match the number of that species present in the wild. For the 2019 collection, this includes 150 Yemeni mouse-tailed bat logo shirts, 444 North Atlantic right whales, and 50 Cebu damselflys, among others. There will be one more collection released in 2020, with a new set of ten logos all designed in Lacoste’s classic embroidered style.
While it may be jarring to see an unfamiliar shape where the crocodile used to be, that’s part of the genius of Lacoste’s campaign. When consumers lean in and ask “wait, what’s that?”, they’re primed to learn about a struggling species they may not have known about before.
“For the endangered species of this world, the crocodile abandons its ancestral place,” Lacoste says. This move not only raises awareness about the plight of endangered species, it creates rare, collectors-edition pieces of fashion history. And, proceeds from each sale directly benefit IUCN in its ongoing efforts to preserve these dwindling species and raise awareness about the plight of endangered animals across the globe.
While in many cases changing a brand’s logo can have disastrous effects, Lacoste’s conservation initiative represents a powerful departure from conventional wisdom. Their iconic crocodile logo still remains as compelling as ever, if not more so, and Lacoste has created increased visibility for many of our most endangered creatures, earning consumer goodwill (and lots of positive press) in the process.