logo is not brand

Last week I gave a presentation to the Society for Marketing Professional Services (SMPS) entitled, “Your Logo Isn’t Your Brand”. If you subscribe to the modern8 newsletter or read the blog, the subject may not be new, but it is worth repeating.

We can quickly dispense with the obvious myths. Your logo isn’t your brand, your identity, your product or service. You’re not even the brand owner. It’s owned by your customer. A brand is your customer’s gut feeling about you. In the immortal words of Marty Neumeier, “Your brand is not what you say it is. It’s what they say it is.”

A brand is the totality of perceptions that you see, hear, read, know, feel, and think about a business or service. A brand holds a distinctive position in your customer’s mind based on past experiences, associations and future expectations. A brand is a short-cut of beliefs and values that differentiate and simplify our decision-making process. Lastly, a brand is a promise of value to be received.

When talking about brands most people think about Coca-Cola, Apple, Starbucks and Harley-Davidson. These are good examples of B2C (business to consumer) branding. Hardly any companies neglect the importance of branding in B2C.

But in B2B (business to business) things are different. B2B companies think it’s not relevant, that they are in a specialty market, that their customers already know a lot about them and they are chosen through objective processes, based on facts. The reality is that we are emotional beings both at work and at home, and we make our choices the same way, regardless of where we are.

Some of the world’s strongest brands are B2B brands, like IBM, General Electric, Intel, FedEx and Boeing; and like FedEx, many are primarily service businesses.

Big companies brand for the same reason that you should: to get more people to buy more stuff for more years at a higher price. But it requires an investment. In the short run, it is more probable that you will see a decline in profit. Brand building is aimed at creating long-term, non-tangible assets, not for boosting your short-term sales. If the company, especially the people at the top, is not convinced that it is the right thing to do, it won’t work.

Branding has immense value, but it’s not simple and it’s not your logo.