In a previous post, I talked about the ever so incredible actor (and handsome ) Micheal B. Jordan, and his new his rum line (called J’Ouvert), which apparently was cancelled because of culture appropriation. To re cap – The name of Michael B. Jordan’s rum J’Ouvert drew complaints from people of Caribbean decent because the of the actor’s “non-empathy” over naming his rum after a time in history when slaves where emancipated and allowed to brace their freedom, and how he did not consult with the native land of Trinidad in choosing a name that refers to the festival to celebrate. J’Ouvert refers to both the Antillean Creole French term meaning “daybreak” and an annual festival held in Trinidad and Tobago and other locations to celebrate Caribbean culture and emancipation from slavery during Carnival. The J’Ouvert festival began in the mid-1800s when slaves were emancipated and allowed to embrace their freedom and practice self-expression.
This happens more often than we think with companies and brand (like the Aunt Jemina syrup, click here to see their relaunch), and sometimes goes unnoticed, and once it does, companies have to pay thousands of dollars to “rebrand”.
So how can this be avoided. I think the number one rule on how to avoid this rebrand complication that could get your brand “cancelled” is to RESEARCH. DO YOUR RESEARCH! Research on the name of your brand, the color scheme, who your audience is, the meaning behind the brand. Marketing is like asking someone on a date, and branding is the reason why that person says YES! So good research is the most important thing that will make a difference in your marketing strategy, which will ultimately allow for a good brand to exist.
Figure based off of the Design Council Double Diamond
Another key ingredient to avoid brand complication is Human Design Thinking. This process, if used correctly could have been the key component of The J’Ouvert brand that would have made the brand that much more authentic. Human Design Thinking approach could be used to understand users, challenge assumptions, redefine problems with a brand, and to test the product. Human Design thinking could have ben extremely useful in the brainstorming sessions, and creating a more hands on approaching when testing out the rum line.
My third key ingredient to building a strong brand is alining the brand with the mission. Brands create missions statements (every brand should have one) to define their company’s purpose, and these mission statements can turn into visual statements that can outline their plans for their future. The most important component for a beautifully crafted mission statement and brand identity is the authenticity, which goes back to research! Doing good research on your brand makes for a great authentic one. Not saying that Micheal B. Jordan’s brand was not authentic, however had he had done his research – the brand would have alined with the Caribbean people of Trinidad and Tobago where J’Ouvert festivals take place (or maybe not, as if he would have known this he may have made an entirely different name for his rum line) and the brand would have felt more authentic, and not just a money grab.
Shortly after Jordan announced his new brand, Trinidad and Tobago’s minister of trade and industry said that their office would be working with an office of intellectual property to investigate and possible protect the name of the held festival J’Ouvert. I’m sure that Michael B. Jordan didn’t intentionally try to do anything he thought people of Caribbean decent would find offensive, but now that he knows, more money, time and effort has to be put out to change the name (along with other physical things such as bottles, labels, packaging) so that his new brand can prosper and flourish.
Carras, Christi. LosAngelesTimes.com (2021, June 23) Michael B. Jordan apologizes and vows to rename rum line after appropriation outcry. Retrieved from https://www.latimes.com/entertainment-arts/story/2021-06-23/michael-b-jordan-apology-rum-line-cultural-appropriation
Out, Bethany | SnapOut.com (2, Jan 2020). Design Thinking Vs Human-Centred Design: What’s the Difference? Retrieved by medium.com/snapout/design-thinking-vs-human-centred-design-whats-the-difference-9ef855f55223.
Kinane, Ruth. EW.com (2021, June 23) Michael B. Jordan apologizes, says he’ll rename his new rum after accusations of cultural appropriation. Retrieved from https://ew.com/movies/michael-b-jordan-apologizes-for-rum-name-after-accusations-of-cultural-appropriation/
Keltobglobal.com (2019, June 16) How Design Thinking Can Fuel Your Brand’s Innovation Strategy. Retrieved from https://www.keltonglobal.com/perspectives/how-design-thinking-can-fuel-your-brands-innovation-strategy/
Dam Friis, Rikke and Siang, Teo Yu. Interaction-Design.org.com (2021, January 23). 5 Stages in the Design Thinking Process. Retrieved from https://www.interaction-design.org/literature/article/5-stages-in-the-design-thinking-process