Beam Me Up, Scottie


Friday, February 9, 2007

The Brand

This is the OFFICIAL logo for DEI, Dale Earnhardt, Inc., a North Carolina motorsports company.
With all the interest surrounding NASCAR, I chose to take a look at branding and the loyalty a brand represents. Specifically, I narrowed my focus to one particular team that has become the public face of fan loyalty.
The Persuaders provided insight into the current emotional branding methodology. It's everywhere. You buy something, respond to an idea because of what the brand means to you. I searched everywhere for the history the DEI logo and found nothing. So if any of you have information, I'd love to know.
What I did learn is that the name "Earnhardt" evokes a passion akin to a religion. People make pilgrimages to the Earnhardt statue in the middle of his hometown, Kannapolis, North Carolina. In fact, Earnhardt's fans inspired the national best selling novel, St. Dale.
The interesting thing about the DEI Brand and THIS LOGO is that this is NOT the logo that inspires all the brand loyalty. It's the good old number 3. See the next entry.


This is NOT the official DEI logo. However it is the most recognized and most emotional logo in the racing world. It inspires joy, tears and fierce loyalty. Race fans are among the most brand-loyal in the United States. It is truly a lovemark in its purest definition.

A series on brand loyalty by ABC News 20/20 in 2001 showed that 90 percent of race fans purchase their driver's sponsored products regularly. The connection to the brand is aspirational.

Fans want to belong to a larger community of like-minded people.

According to AdWeek, it was downloadeded, printed and sold more than 10,000 times a day in 2006.

A similar study conducted by UNC Charlotte found this symbol ranked in the top 25 among logos that respondants correctly identified and recognized. That puts the number three in the same league as Coca Cola, Sony, Nike and Apple.

Truly Personal Connections

The closer the image appears to the fan, the closer the fan feels to anything Dale Earnhardt. Here you see the officially licensed number on underwear. They even make available on thongs.


You see this logo everywhere -- from the back glass of pick-up trucks to the custom license plates of a Lexus.
The "Dale Devotees" understand the deep, abiding connection to their beloved hero.
There's a human evolution of this brand.
You will see it sometimes in the crowd shots of the infield at speedways. Just look for people who are holding up three fingers of one hand and making small an index finger to thumb circle over the "3" with their other hands.

Friday, February 2, 2007

Failure to Communicate

What were they thinking?
That's what I ask myself every time I see this logo. It makes absolutely no sense to me. At first, I thought the people were floating in some sort of strange outer world, where they struggled to survive. Their legs dangle, and rest on empty balloons that I mistook for whales and eyeless fish.
The whole image seems like a storyboard for a Tim Burton animated film.
I cannot see what the image has to do with the purpose of the organization.
Good communication must effectively integrate the purpose of the organization with visual elements. None of that exists here. I am lost.
But below are some examples that I think work well.


Do we need to say more after you look at this sign? Without a word, it is the essense of the phrase, "a picture is worth a thousand words." You can easily understand the entire photo's message. Winter. Snowman and inside that cabin -- warmth and the glow of a content winter-dweller. It's great how one photo can symbolize an entire season. With the deer beside the snowman, the image also conveys the idea of serenity with nature. For all those reasons, I think this symbol is a good metaphor and an equally effective communication.

Culturally Laden Sign

When you see this symbol, what comes to your mind and heart?
Are you stirred by any emotion? The answer depends upon your perspective with regards to the United States. But this one has it all. The determination of Americans as seen in the eyes of the Eagle. The flag of freedom on the large bird's cheek. I beleive this is a good design for all those reasons. It cannot be mistaken for any other purpose.
The reason it communicates well is the same as why it is a good design. No one can mistake the message here. It's all about America.

Public Usage Signage

This sign begins with the standard, "NO PARKING" in large easy to read, red letters on a white background. Beneath the clearly stated purpose of the sign, the head of a Native American in stoic profile further catches the reader's eyes. You actually take the time to study a sign that at first blush would get minor notice. After all, we see, "no parking" signs all the time. But this one compells one to read further. Once you do, you see the humor and the irony in the sign.
It communicates is purpose well because it seems to be a humorous way to get the reader and the driver NOT to park in that spot. This is an effective communication on many levels. It's eye catching and easy to understand. It compels you to read the entire sign. Finally, it leaves you with a laugh. So it has accomplished its mission effectively.

Computer Interface