April 13, 2015

Gummy Bear Repackaging Creates Trademarkologist Confusion

by Stites & Harbison, PLLC

A couple weeks ago, I was having a particularly bad Friday and found myself in CVS grabbing two items that were guaranteed to improve my day: a Starbucks Frappuccino and gummy bears. Now, you'd think this would have been an easy in-and-out task, but it was not. Any true gummy bear fan knows that not all gummy bears are created equally; Haribo gummy bears are undoubtedly the best. However, I couldn't find my favorite Haribo gummy bears. I search the aisles only to find these red packages of gummy bears:

Upon closer inspection, I realized that the packaging said "the original HARIBO Gold Bears" yet bore a trademark with which I was unfamiliar: "GOLD EMBLEM". Whatwerethese red-packaged gummy bears? What happened to that famous gold packaging that I can spot from a mile away?

The answer still remains unclear. Did Haribo rebrand? Repackage? What? To help answer this burning question, I turned to my branding guru. I am very fortunate to be related to (in a roundabout way) one of the best in the business on branding. His name is Ken Homa, and he's the former Vice President of Marketing for the Household Products Group at Black & Decker and currently a professor at Georgetown University. What really put him on the map was his work with rebranding GE's small appliance business to Black & Decker. So, I sent Uncle Ken an email asking for his thoughts. His response made a lot of sense.

He said that brands repackage all the time "to freshen their look and have more visual impact at point-of-purchase. Brand loyalists (like you) will search it out and eventually find it. The goal is catch the eye of new customers (think, a younger, flashier target audience)." He also commented that "the trick is to maintain enough continuity with the old packaging to not disturb existing customers (maybe they went to far), while having enough 'wow' factor to make the change worthwhile." As he noted, packaging changes are very expensive, and should not be taken lightly. Brands undergoing a "repackage" need to work off the old inventory and distribute the new, which results in lots of waste and logistics costs. A decision to repackage should not to be taken lightly. For more of Ken's wisdom and views on marketing, visit his blog: www.homafiles.com.

I'm still up in the air as to whether Haribo went through a rebrand, a repackage, or some amalgamation of the two. In addition to this new red packaging, a new "GOLD EMBLEM" mark appears on the bag of my beloved bears. Check back next week for the Trademarkologists' thoughts and tips on rebranding.

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