Brand Promise Refresh for Petco Brings New Logo and Tagline

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Posted Aug 22, 2011
Susan Gunelius

What is Petco's brand promise? What does the Petco brand mean to you? Is that brand promise any different from Petco's competitors such as PetSmart? Petco hopes a new logo and tagline will help you understand.

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According to a press release from Petco that accompanied the launch of its new logo and tagline, 'where the healthy pets go', the company explains that the brand refresh, "matches the healthier, more contemporary aspects of the brand today."

The company has been remodeling stores during the past year and trying to revive its image with larger organic food offerings and better trained employees who can act as "trusted advisers to customers." You can see the old and new logos and taglines in the image to the left.

Petco Chief Marketing Office Elisabeth Charles explains the new logo and tagline as follows:

"The update to our logo reflects the fresh, forward-looking company that Petco is today. Our new visual identity better reflects the new Petco -- healthy, active, and contemporary -- while retaining the essence of the brand, its warmth and our passion for pets."

To me, this brand refresh is too safe and smells of a "branding decision by committee" rather than an amazing rebranding. AYTM decided to poll our consumer panel to learn how they feel about the new Petco logo and tagline. Some of the findings from our survey are quite enlightening and draw attention to Petco's larger problem -- brand differentiation and emotional involvement. Let's take a look at the data.

AYTM asked our consumer panelists who own pets what they first think of when they read or hear, "where the healthy pets go." This question was unaided, meaning respondents did not know the company attached to that message, and respondents were given the opportunity to provide their qualitative responses and share their real thoughts. Here are three important things that we learned:

1. Petco, PetSmart and other pet brands and stores are not differentiated from each other. They seem the same to consumers.

  • 21% of respondents stated that the tagline made them think of Petco, and many said this because they recognized it (or didn't even realize it had changed) from the original Petco tagline.
  • 22% of respondents said that the tagline made them think of PetSmart, 1-800-PetMeds or another pet store.
  • 24% of respondents stated that the tagline made them think of a veterinarian.
  • Other respondents stated that the tagline made them think of pets going to a loving family, a pet spa, a pet park, staying home (healthy pets don't need to go to the vet), or heaven (4% cited death or heaven).

2. The new tagline is confusing to 1 out of 4 consumers.

  • 25% of respondents said that the new Petco tagline tells them, "only healthy pets go to Petco."
  • 7% of respondents stated that the tagline tells them, "healthy and unhealthy pets go to Petco."
  • 63% of respondents understood the tagline and said, "going to Petco will make your pet healthier."
  • 5% of respondents offered other interpretations of the new Petco logo. These responses ranged from, "the tagline tells me nothing" to "it's a marketing gimmick" and "people who care about their pets go to Petco."

3. The new logo gets a slightly more positive reaction from pet owners than the new tagline does.

  • 35% of respondents prefer the old logo.
  • 49% of respondents prefer the new logo.
  • 16% have no preference stating that the logos look the same.

Again, Petco's problem doesn't appear to be convincing people that it offers healthy, organic products in a modern environment. In fact, many respondents to the AYTM survey stated that the new tagline makes them feel like the store is "expensive" and "pretentious." Instead, Petco seems to be facing a brand promise problem. What are Petco's brand values and what is Petco's unique value proposition? Why should consumers choose Petco over other pet stores? What's in it for me as a consumer to drive out of my way to go to Petco?

Based on the AYTM survey results, it doesn't appear that the new Petco logo and tagline can help to answer those questions. What do you think?

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