Irony in CSR: Clorox Bleaches its Image

Today a CSR press release in CSRWire caught my eye:

OAKLAND, Calif., Sep. 29 /CSRwire/ - The Clorox Company today (CLX) launched a new corporate logo, marking the most dramatic change in its visual identity since 1957. Using an updated version of the company’s iconic diamond mark, a brighter blue color and new accents of green, the logo better reflects the corporate brand today as it heads toward its centennial anniversary in 2013.

The press release continued:

"Our new logo better communicates what The Clorox Company stands for today," said Clorox Chairman and CEO Don Knauss. "We've kept visual elements that reflect our heritage but we emphasized our forward-thinking mindset and objective to achieve strong growth, drive innovation and focus on sustainability."

The release caught attracted my attention for a couple of reasons.  First, while logo redesigns seem to occur with some frequency, it is unusual to find them in a CSR publication.  But more importantly, there is something funny about a company that has been accused of greenwashing focusing attention on something as cosmetic as a logo.  Moreover, if logos can be changed once, they can be changed again in the future, begging the question of whether adoption of a new logo is sustainable in the first place.  Is the new blue and green logo here to stay, or will it be nothing more than a faddish flash in the pan?  And let’s not ignore the irony of this announcement being issued by a company that manufactures cleaning products!

Perhaps I am being overly harsh.  After all, for all the greenwashing allegations that came out in 2008 when Clorox launched its Greenworks brand, its green product lines have done well in the green markets, obtaining “42 percent of the natural cleaner market within two years of introduction” according to an article published yesterday on Business Week.

But can we assume that customers know best, or should we take the success of GreenWorks as a dangerous indicator that green consumers are sufficient naïve to buy into marketing campaigns from the companies with the deepest pockets?   After all, while a cursory search indicates that Greenworks scores fairly well in Good Guide, Clorox’s regular product lines in the household cleaning category are neither the best nor the worst.

Ultimately, it will be interesting to see whether the Clorox logo change draws any commentary.  Two years ago, the internet was full of criticism of the company for trying to change its image.  But if Clorox has done its market research properly, it probably has data to support that the public is ready to accept Clorox’s new logo as an accurate reflection of its brand image.

Photo credit: theimpulsivebuy