3 NORTH STARS BEFORE THEY WERE FAMOUS – By @mjclacroix
3 NORTH STARS BEFORE THEY WERE FAMOUS
This week Darryl Fielding shifted the conversation on branding and marketing and emphasised their relevance in building longevity of companies that last hundreds of years, built on unique values.
These North Stars of a brand can sometimes successfully lead brands on extraordinary journeys. Before Samsung became a $221billion electronics market leader holding over 5,000 patents, it began humbly as a Seoul trader noodle shop called Good Time Noodle Shop with $30 equity. Peugeot designed pepper grinders. Nokia manufactured tyres. Nintendo produced playing cards.
Samsung’s logo reflected the Korean translation of Samsung – literally ‘3 stars’ – culturally signifying eternity and power. As it’s founder Lee Byung-chul transformed the company from trading to household appliances, one can track the visual genealogy of the Samsung identity through to today. The three stars remain, but the typography gradually technologizes to the 1960’s. By ‘93 the design became the familiar household logo we’re familiar with today. No stars, but the galaxy shape still signposts the founding North Star principles of longevity and greatness.
Who knew that the Finnish telecommunications behemoth Nokia’s North Star values shared it’s history with Peugeot, two hundred years ago with the humble paper mill, and both have driven growth led by their (quite opaque) values (‘Respect, Achievement, Renewal, Challenge for Nokia’, and ‘Allure, Emotion, Excellence for Peugeot). They may be unhelpful propositions but have been the North Star that’s guided both companies through innovation to become vanguards of their respective markets.
Peugeot began designing tools and small metal parts after updating their mill from wood to steel in 1810, eventually making a coffee maker that is still in use today, and creating what is commonly regarded as the world’s best pepper mill, which you and I have probably used without ever realising they have the same technology that is used to make ball bearings. It was Armand Peugeot’s ‘Allure, Emotion and Excellence’ at the advent of the motor car that split the company in two banked their experience in quality metal manufacturing, in production since 1932.
Most fascinating is Nintendo’s tenacity in it’s changing spots and colours since 1859 and its capacity to seek lateral solutions to perfectly defined problems. Namely, when Hiroshi Yamauchi found that the largest manufacturer of playing cards in the world worked from one small office, his realisation that the industry had limited potential for growth let him to use Disney Characters on his cards to boost profits. After several failing projects, including Japanese Love Hotels, Nintendo entered the toy market in the 1960s with small electrical goods such as the Love Tester, but it was the entry of the epitomous Game Boy in the 80s that cemented Nintendo’s future as a leader of the market. Guiding North Stars with simple and consistent brand propositions for centuries.