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A New Aura for Gold

When last year the World Gold Council (the international body responsible for promoting and marketing gold world-wide) invited Wolff Olins to create a new positioning and global brand for gold, its market price was at a twenty year low. Jane Wentworth, Senior Consultant Wolff Olins

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Walk down the aisles of any supermarket. Fill your trolley with Gold Blend instant coffee, Terry’s All Gold chocolates, Kodak Gold film, Golden Churn butter or Crispy Golden cod – and you can pay for it all with a Visa Gold card. Brand managers have hijacked gold for their own purposes, creating a world of ‘pseudo gold’ in which products with limited intrinsic worth are given status by association with the world’s most ancient and revered precious metal. No wonder gold is in trouble.

In its second largest market, the U.S., the top retailer of gold was the supermarket chain K-Mart, where the average price tag was just $90. The kind of people the Gold Council wanted to reach were people who regarded gold jewellery as old fashioned, ostentatious, even tacky; people for whom metals like silver and platinum were seen as more fashionable, cooler, more desirable.

The task was to create a new look and feel for gold that would provide a consistent experience for consumers, wherever they came into contact with the brand. This brand had to reawaken consumers’ desire for gold and act as a focal point for the Council’s activities. More importantly, a simple, yet powerful idea for gold was needed. An idea that would drive every aspect of the brand, not just the logotype, but the imagery, the typography and the tone of voice; an idea that would be both unique to gold and creatively inspiring for the people who promote it.

Our starting point was gold’s incomparably rich cultural history. Since it was discovered over seven thousand years ago, it has inspired every civilisation in history, not simply for its rarity and beauty, but for its spiritual significance. Gold is unique in its ability to link people to other cultures as well as other eras. It’s this idea of connection that made gold so special. The idea for the Gold brand is about connection to the important emotional moments in life, the profound emotions shared by everyone: love, lust, joy, despair, passion, tenderness.

If the Gold brand is to stand out against such global luxury brands as Gucci or Tiffany, it needs to be both compelling and distinctive, so Gold has been adopted as the global name, and is not translated into local languages.

Gold differs from other global brands by being a commodity, albeit a rather special one. The brand is not necessarily associated with specific jewellery products, but with an idea of what Gold itself stands for, an idea of emotional fulfilment rather than mere adornment. A photographic style was created that uses images to suggest the idea of Gold rather than literally focusing on a single piece of jewellery.

In our search for a symbol for Gold, we turned once again to its history. In almost all cultures there is a symbolic relationship between gold and the sun. In Europe, the alchemists used a circle as their sign for both the sun and gold. As the circle is also a universal icon for totality, wholeness and continuity, it seemed an appropriate place to start. The symbol ultimately created for Gold consists of three concentric circles, signifying past, present and future and designed so that the relationship between the three circles creates an optical illusion of the glow, or aura of gold.

Words are as important to the Gold brand as the visual style. In addition to devising a unique typeface for Gold, a distinctive tone of voice was also developed, which, like music or poetry, is capable of articulating big ideas and deep emotions in a way that resonates across different cultures.

The way the four elements -the mark, the typography, the visual style and the language – all work together creates a rich brand environment which is far more potent than a simple logotype could ever be.

Apart from developing a new positioning and brand expression for Gold, the work of advertising, PR and media agencies also needed co-ordinating. Creative agencies naturally want to express their own ideas, but if the overall message is to be coherently expressed it is vital that this creativity is driven by one single, overarching idea.

Since the launch of the Gold brand in May 2001, an international print media campaign has been rolled out and plans are under way to follow it up with film and TV campaigns. Promotional events and conferences, PR activity, exhibitions and trade fairs are all playing a vital role in expressing the Gold brand consistently world-wide.

Only if the brand idea - that gold connects people to the important emotional moments in their lives - underpins everything the World Gold Council does, will perceptions change and gold reclaim its rightful position as the most noble of metals.

This article originally appeared in British Brands, the publication of the British Brands Group, issue 15. Contact or Tel: 07020 934250.

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