Originally intended to greet the visitors of the American Petroleum Institute's first annual meeting in Dallas, the Flying Red Horse has now become the iconic symbol for the ExxonMobil company. Declared a landmark in 1973, the Pegasus got a complete makeover in time for the 2000 Millennial celebration in downtown.
How does a 32-foot-tall red horse gain such notoriety? The history of this majestic sign can teach us a few lessons on building our own brand.
It starts with giving to others. The red horse was a welcome, a beacon call to visitors. It was for them. Consider the Nike swoosh and "Just Do It" logo. It's a call to action--a call to good health. It's an inspiration to athleticism. Nike would have failed with a branding campaign that plastered the CEO's picture on a billboard. That would have been about Nike--not about YOU.
Shine bright in the one thing you do well. Walt Disney capitalized on his success and stuck with his mouse-y roots. Mickey Mouse's ears are iconic and remain the number one branding for Disney's empire even though Mickey is admittedly not as beloved or well known by today's young ones as the Disney princesses are. Cinderella's slipper did not replace Mickey's ears as the brand image. Aladdin's lamp, Merida's bow, Ariel's tail...all recognizable components of Disney success, but none could rival those ears. Nor should they.
Be willing to get a make over. Is it time for an update? All of your favorite and most-successful branding campaigns have morphed over time. It's important to keep up with the times and to look like you're evolving with societies trends and expectations. But, at the same time, you want to be sure to stay connected with your brand. Look at this fun "dueling logos" video which shows the evolution of Coke and Pepsi logos over the years.