At a time when companies are trying to be environmentally conscious and generate less waste, what will happen to the scores of packaging with Myntra’s old logo?
Myntra revamped its five-year-old logo ‘M’. The changes in the logo are incremental and come after a Mumbai-based social worker took to social media to claim that "the overall placement of the colour scheme" of the letter "M" in the logo was "obscene to the eyes of any person of normal prudence.”
Myntra’s rebranding happened quite suddenly and the new logo was introduced overnight. Normally, the decision for a brand to change its logo takes years.
Roshnee Desai, founder and creative director at design agency LOCAL, on LinkedIn opined that as a woman graphic designer she's offended by Naaz Patel’s perception of letterforms. She jokes in her post that she would like to file a case against Naaz for having buri nazar for the letter M.
"On a more serious note, as someone who cares about the planet I’m offended with the ecological effects of this sudden rebranding. Do you realise how much print waste will be caused for Myntra to change their logo on ALL their packaging within a month as they’ve promised? Not to mention the inconvenience of this giant exercise. For what?" she asks in her post.
At a time when brands are trying to cut down on packaging related waste, her question seems to make sense. afaqs! reached out to industry experts on what they think will happen to Myntra's old packaging in light of the new logo.
Ashutosh Karkhanis, creative head, Open Strategy and Design (ex-ECD, Saatchi & Saatchi, and ex-creative head, Rediffusion)
In the past, companies like Amazon and Flipkart have faced criticism for creating more waste with their packaging. All that plastic and cardboard either goes into a landfill or winds up in the ocean. Many environmentalists have pointed out that eventually, there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish itself – that’s the future we are inching towards.
I personally think this is a great opportunity for Myntra. It can use this opportunity to come up with more environmentally friendly packaging. The truth is that the appearance of the logo in its (original) form was not intentional and the complainant has acknowledged that.
Myntra could very well announce that it is going to continue using this packaging, until the units of the old logo are over, before creating new packaging units with the new logo on it. This will prevent it from becoming a burden on the environment. That’s one way of creating a brand narrative.
The truth is that it will take a long time to throw away the packaging and create new units. Myntra could very well use this opportunity to attempt to become a ‘zero waste’ company and create packaging that attempts to lift the burden on the environment.
There was a time when people didn’t care about the packaging. But now, the packaging is an important part that prompts people to buy the product. In Myntra’s case, it’s slightly different because the product ends up at your house and the consumer isn’t picking it up, say, at a supermarket. But then, the customers typically don’t think of how much junk their order has created.
Discarding all that existing packaging is going to again generate an incredible amount of waste. Myntra can tell its customers that it will continue to use the old logo in a bid to not create more waste, and eventually, phase out the logo in new packaging.
An example of a brand that stood by its logo even when it was perceived wrongly was Airbnb. When it launched its new logo, people mentioned that it appeared phallic in nature, but the company did not back down. It stuck with the new logo because at the end of the day, it depends on what the brand itself believes in.
Shashwat Das, CEO and founder, Almond Branding (has worked on design for brands like Tata, ITC, Amul, Parle, Kellogg’s, Dabur, and Berger)
It’s like how beauty is in the eye of the beholder, vulgarity also lies in the eye of the beholder. If it was obviously sexist, people would have noticed it immediately. But it took five years for the complainant to realise that this logo could be perceived differently. The brand played it safe and changed the logo to avoid controversy.
The moment you do a logo change, especially in an unplanned rebranding activity like this, you have to take care of all the places the logo was present. These include the boxes, the website, on the bill receipts, the staff uniform, etc., and this is a huge investment.
It’s a mismatch between time and effort. Myntra is deep-pocketed as it has the backing of Flipkart and has good investors on board. If a relatively new startup had to make a change like this overnight, it would have resulted in a huge cost for the brand.
Also, consider the fact that the world is just recovering from a pandemic (COVID) and there are issues for the company to look at. During a normal rebranding exercise, the company plans in advance and takes into account the amount of inventory left (which has the old logo on it). It will order new packaging materials that have the new logo and will no longer make packaging which has the old logo.
In the case of women’s issues, the brand can’t keep using the older boxes. If customers receive boxes with the old logo, they might even make fun of it on social media. The old boxes have to be destroyed.
Chirag Taneja, co-founder and CEO, GoKwik (ex-CRO at Bombay Shaving Company)
Typically, a company like Myntra will keep inventory for around 6-9 months, which I’m sure it can’t use at this point. I don’t know if Myntra will throw that away as that does have environmental impact.
From a consumer point of view, the logo on the packaging is super important from an offline perspective too. Myntra is a well-recognised brand and has a high recall logo. The brand can find a way to repurpose its packaging (which bears the old logo), since the new logo is only marginally different from the old one.
It’s possible that the brand can use this incident to portray itself as being sensitive towards women as well as being environmentally friendly. From a marketing perspective, it can turn this around to be more socially responsible.
For Myntra, this could possibly lead to a drop on a short-term basis as rebranding exercises typically take longer to implement. I would imagine a short-term impact will lead to gains for competitors such as Nykaa or Ajio. But the long-term impact in the customers’ minds will be negligible.
N Chandramouli, CEO, Trust Research Advisory (a brand intelligence and data insights company)
When Tata launched a car a few years ago, it was called Zika. But, unfortunately, that was also the name of a deadly virus that was spreading in South Africa. Corona beer also lost close to 75 per cent of its revenue last year (2020) because, unfortunately, the product shares its name with a virus. These are cases where the brand is being tangibly hurt by an external force.
However, in Myntra’s case, it is one person’s perception that has led to this. That’s the thing about symbols. Once you see a certain image in a certain way, you can’t go back to looking at it in its previous form. It’s easy to implant a memory, but getting rid of one can be very difficult.
Myntra will have no choice but to destroy or get rid of the old packaging with the old logo, as it is disparaging to the brand. This practice is not a foreign one in the world of fashion. Brands like Burberry, Prada, Nike and others all burn their unsold stock. To them, the act is to prevent the brand getting diluted. It is also to prevent counterfeiters from replicating the designs.
Ayesha Chenoy, founder, RepIndia
Myntra’s decision to change its logo in response to a complaint that it was offensive to women is a dangerous signal, if there was one. A withdrawal gives two messages. First, an admission that you were possibly offensive in the first place. Second, a subjective opinion on a logo should be an opportunity for a brand to stand true to its values and, perhaps, get into a larger debate on what kind of organisation it fundamentally is.
These skirmishes on a logo design deflect from the real issues that plague us. Moreover, brands have a responsibility to their consumers and shareholders, to stand true to their values and accept different opinions without letting go of theirs. Next, Flipkart will be changing its logo because someone will say it has the F word in it, and that’s offensive to humanity.
Brands rebrand all the time, so I don’t believe the financial implications on the packaging are what is critical here. What is critical is why they are rebranding. Not because they want their brand to stand for something bigger, something more powerful. But they are responding to a bizarre design perspective and wasting millions out of avoiding a controversy, as opposed to wanting change.