When a lot of folk think about a brand, they think of the thing they see that relates to it and gets talked about most in the media which tends to be the logo, and the price or someopinion of the logo. But, is a logo a brand?
Forget cows and branding irons
You may have seen the picture of the branding iron being pushed onto some unsuspecting bovine and heard that this is where branding originated from and logos blah blah blah. While the origin of the word might be there – I want you to take anything you’ve, ahem, herd about branding cattle – and do one thing with it.
Forget it. And if anyone comes at you with a slide talking about branding cattle – I’m with Mark Ritson, throw them out.
Because branding actually has little to do with that mark, or the act of stamping a logo on everything, or a nice book with fonts and colours.
So what is branding if it’s not a logo?
Branding is everything that people in time come to associate with a logo. It is what your audience think of your organisation, or product, or service. Sure, your logo becomes something that people can hang those meanings onto but it is not the brand. A great example is Harley Davidson – there’s not a lot in the logo that suggests rebellion or counter-culture, but they have positioned themselves with that image, from Hells Angels, Free Rider and teenage rebellion since the 50’s.
Your brand is the answer to these questions:
- Who are you?
- What do you do?
- Who do you do it for?
- Why does it matter?
Now – obviously – everyone will hold a different idea of what that is, so the art of branding is curating and managing that meaning to align your and your audiences answers to those questions. And that is a conversation – so it can happen both ways – you may change your position to fit an audience or your may create a position and the audience comes with/to you.
Branding is strategic
Branding is a strategic exercise that aims to solve problems, work towards objectives and get results. A logo, while it might symbolise that, is just that. A symbol. So if you are rebranding and you’re not changing anything other than the visual surface, you’re not going to see much of a change in what is happening with your organisation. Branding is also an on-going activity, as a mention in my earlier post “Why is branding so important?“, your brand is not a fixed point and should grow and adapt to events/conditions it faces.
Logo or brand
Logos can obviously be important. A good logo can help with recognition. A logo can help you stand out in your market. A logo can even become part of a culture. So spending time and thought on your it is a valuable exercise, but branding is what will help you position yourself, communicate what you do, connect with your audience and help you stand out for the right reasons. My dear old Dad for example, has been in business without a logo for 30 years, but he has managed to create a good brand.
So if you think you need a logo for your new business, or because you want to “rebrand”, let’s have a chat and find what your objectives are, and whether you actually need more than just a logo.