Sunday, August 24, 2014

Is GEICO Risking Brand Confusion?

GEICO is a well-known organization within the insurance industry. In fact, it’s the 3rd largest private auto insurance company in the nation. Every company brands their self in a certain way. Often times, an animal or character is used to represent their brand identity. It's something identifiable to the public other than a logo.  Most companies only have one brand identity. For example, Aflac uses a duck. Frosted Flakes uses a tiger.  In essence, it's their mascots. However when it comes to GEICO, do they have one or several? Several of their commercials with different "mascots" probably popped up in your head. Right? Brand confusion anybody? or No?

There’s the Gecko

Need I elaborate on the gecko? If you have never seen the gecko, you've either never watched television or seen a GEICO billboard. The gecko has been used in their marketing tactics for many years if not decades. Everyone knows about the gecko.

There’s the Caveman

The caveman was a great marketing choice. “It’s so easy switching to GEICO that even a caveman could do it.”  How can we forget that statement or this character?  Just as every other GEICO commercial, the humor appeal was used. Every commercial that included the caveman was successful.

There’s the Talking Stack of Money

The stack of money has done its job. Essentially, it is supposed to be the money that you would save by switching. You know! The infamous “15 percent in 15 minutes”.  GEICO ran with the idea that if you see what you can save, you will be more likely to switch.

   There’s the Pig

The pig was actually a shock to me because Bottom Dollar Food uses a pig as well. However, Bottom Dollar Food is neither a competitor or as large in regard to its reach (its only located NJ, OH, and PA). Using the pig is probably more of an issue for Bottom Dollar Food than it is for GEICO. In other words, Bottom Dollar Food may not be running any of its pig campaigns until GEICO stops using theirs. At least I haven’t seen any recently.

There’s the Camel

Last but not least, the camel. This has been another one of their recent choices. The camel has become very popular on social networking too. I’m pretty sure you've seen someone post an image of it on a Wednesday at least one time.
There are probably more "mascots" but I think you get what I’m trying to say here.

Surprisingly, GEICO has been able to successfully advertise with all these "mascots" over the past (months) years. Yet they still have been able to keep their superstar gecko at the front-line as their official brand identity. It's genius! But it's also risky. I've asked many people “what’s the GEICO mascot?” and they always say “the gecko right?” with hesitation as if they know but they are not too sure.  This is where it gets risky. Consumers should be able to easily understand an organization's branded character and brand identity with confidence.  As GEICO creates so many branded characters, consumers can become confused.

In all actuality, the gecko is the ONLY "mascot" for this organization. The others (thought to be brand identities) are simply marketing campaigns that temporarily run for about 3 months or so. You will probably never see the caveman, stack of money, or others (once their campaigns are over) more than you see the gecko. Running those campaigns just once or twice is enough time to bring in something fresh and regain consumer attention. However, running a campaign too many times will definitely cause brand confusion and pretty soon no one will be able to know for sure what the GEICO "mascot" really is. Once or twice is just enough to grab your attention. Then back to the all-star, the gecko.

Which is your favorite GEICO “mascot” or commercial? I think the Camel has become a bit of star, almost as popular as the gecko. “Guess what time it is? Hump day!!!”

What do you think? Risky or Genius?
Let me know your thoughts and comment below.
Don’t for get to follow/subscribe to my blog!