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Oct 25 2010

Is the Brand Equity in U.S. Currency Too Great to Change the Design?

I remember a discussion I had a while back with my friend Gus—who is from the Dominican Republic—about the U.S. Dollar. I was saying how nice I thought the Dominican currency was compared to the crappy the U.S. design. Gus pulled a U.S. Dollar out of his pocket, kissed it and said, “I love this money, it’s the most beautiful money in the world. Everybody wants it.”

Here is a link to a selection of redesigns of U.S. currency by the Dollar ReDe$ign Project.

The big question: is the brand equity in U.S. currency too great to change the design? There is no question that some of the work is quite nice, so I’m hoping that the mission statement for the competition is tongue-in-cheek. If not, I have some beautiful swamp land in Florida that I would like to show these guys. See below:

“It seems so obvious to us that the ‘only’ realistic way for a swift economic recovery is through a thorough, in-depth, rebranding scheme – starting with the redesign of the iconic US Dollar – it’s the ‘only’ pragmatic way to add some realistic stimulation into our lives! Therefore, you must take part and we really want to see what YOU would do.”

If they are serious, then this is the stuff that gives branding a bad name. When brand professionals pretend to be business strategists it does more damage than good. Over the years I have helped many CEOs and businesses communicate and realize their strategies. To pretend that a new brand alone can change a company or industry problem, turns branding into snake-oil.

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