Branding is a common term in business, known by most who hear it. It is discussed in business school, in noted publications and professional journals, focused on by gurus and consultants, and culminates in an empty “buzz” concept for most business owners, especially smaller businesses. Some businesses may give some heed to the concept of “branding” as one of the first steps toward opening your doors which results in a logo, business card, and letter head design. Done, right? Now that the brand is out of the way, we can move on to real business! Not so fast…
Branding is likely one of the least understood concepts in business yet carries a power much greater than the next “super” marketing technique or really any technique available today. Most individuals think “logo” when they hear the word “brand”. That is just one piece.
Every top executive team or business owner is an artist with their brand as the sculpture. The logo may very well be the “eyes” of the brand but there is much more to a complete sculpture than the eyes alone. The fact is, every business is a complete brand, whether they are conscious of it or not. A focus on the eyes alone leaves the rest of the body to the half-hazard design of the environment within which we operate. The ears, nose, mouth, head, limbs, and torso are all sculpted by the elements around us, whether that is the opinions and results of customers, the legal and regulatory landscape, or the internal bureaucracy of doing business. The sculpture ends up with unmatched and poorly formed results. Often the hideousness of the rest of the sculpture causes most potential customers to completely miss the well formed eyes (logo).
Not all brands ignore the rest of the sculpture although very few take into account the complete sculpture, maybe noting the eyes and nose but forgetting the rest. The fact is most brand design is incomplete at best and damaging to the organization at worst.
- A brand is defined by The American Marketing Association (AMA) as follows:
“a name, term, sign, symbol or design, or a combination of them intended to identify the goods and services of one seller or group of sellers and to differentiate them from those of other sellers.”
This definition is not branding, it simply lists a few of the representations of a brand, a few of the potential components of a brand. Definitions such as this have lead most organizations to compartmentalize their brands into separate components that are viewed, researched, and designed separately. This is as if a different artist sculpts each piece of the body with their own thoughts and influences, coming together at the end with a somewhat complete sculpture (inevitably leaving out at least a few pieces.) The result is a chaotic mismatched, disproportioned mess. Each piece may have been a work of art independently but when brought together, the lack of cohesion destroys anything considered “art.”
Become a master brand artist and take the whole sculpture into account. In future posts, we will discuss more of the issues surrounding branding and the solutions to building complete, powerful brands. What do you think? How have you viewed branding? Do you know of brands that are better at seeing the entire sculpture?