I’ve noticed that as I’ve progressed in my career as a scholar, I tend to see research all around me in my everyday life. My scholarship centers on questions of media sustainability, particulary how legacy media outlets are making digital transformations. And so the van I saw recently while driving in Raleigh traffic stood out for me as a classic example of illustrating what I’ve been studying and teaching for the last few years.
As companies tied to “old ways” of doing business seek to transform their business for the digital age, the brand remains an integral component to making a successful switch. Classic marketing and management concepts such as brand positioning and brand messaging are important strategies to employ as change agents.
Now, back to the van and how it fits in. The yellow van I spotted was for “YP.com” and touted the features of search on its powerful local directory. The back of the van featured a generic smartphone image and a generic computer image and touted the benefits of these new digital products.
Of course, YP.com is the latest branding for YellowPages, long known for its big, bulky telephone book directories. The very name YellowPages conjures images of its print origins. The old logo I recall from my childhood consisted of fingertips flipping through those signature yellow pages. This is a company and a business model clearly disrupted by the Internet.
And thus, to survive, to remain a sustainable operation, YellowPages has adapted. The new brand identity, YP.com, conjures an entirely different image. For starters, the digital identity- the .com, is now in the name. Secondly, the references to the print identity (pages) is removed from the new branding effort.
And the brand messaging? All about digital products. You, the consumer, can access the YP.com local search directory online (cue generic computer) or on your phone (cue generic phone logo) through an app. Those print pages from the big old phone books? Nowhere in sight. The name Yellow Pages? Not on this van.
This is a simple example of a case study on brand messaging and digital transformation. A real world application of a “textbook” approach. Spotted on a van while stuck in holiday traffic.