Tuesday, 13 July 2010

A logo is not a brand

We are confronted by brands virtually wherever we go, particularly on the High Street and online. Even countries and celebrities are now getting branded.

For the business owner there are a number of benefits in building a brand. A branded product can demand a premium over an unbranded product – profitability is higher; customers are more likely to seek out the branded product and it’s easier for it to be identified in a crowded market – lowering marketing costs. The value of the business itself is enhanced, the brand copyright or intellectual property adds value, increasing the share price if it’s a public company, or for the entrepreneur enabling them to demand a higher price for the business, when selling out prior to retirement, for example.

I often hear a business owner say “design me a brand” when what they actually want is a logo. But a logo is not a brand. A logo is the visual representation of the brand.

Brands can’t be created instantly, they take time, sometimes many years. They are really about communicating the values of the company, product or service and reflecting back the aspirations of the consumer. Brands allow us to realise our dreams. How we feel about them is an emotional response and it’s often difficult to explain why one brand fits the image we have of ourselves. As Rob Walker said in his book ‘I’m with the brand’: “Brands can play a role in the stories we tell about ourselves and help resolve the tensions between individuality and belonging”.

Multinational businesses such as Coca Cola, Toyota and BP have invested millions of £s and $s building their brands, the value of which has been reflected in their share prices. However in recent months Toyota has had problems with product safety, which has been extremely damaging to their brand; and for BP, the disaster in the Gulf has probably damaged them fatally, their share price has halved, their independence threatened and reputation trashed.

I often find when talking to small and medium sized business that it’s easier to understand the value of branding if the word is replaced with ‘reputation’. Suddenly businesses get it straight way – their reputation is their most valuable asset. If their customers ‘trust’ their product or service they will come back again and again. Conversely the loss of reputation can be hugely damaging.

In next month‘s blog I’ll look at the key issues of – Product, Environment, Behaviour and Communications – that every business needs to focus on if they want to build a brand – and enhance their reputation.

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