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Understanding Brand Development: It’s More Than Just a Logo

In the complex world of business, the term ‘brand’ can often be misconstrued or oversimplified. A brand is a complex, multifaceted entity that encapsulates how people perceive a business when they’re not directly interacting with it.

It’s the lingering impression that remains in people’s minds long after they’ve left your shop, been to your office or visited your website.

Consider high-end shops like Fortnum & Mason or Harrods. These establishments have cultivated an aura that makes people across the world want to experience them, even though they’ve never been there. Equally, they make people yearn to revisit them. This is the brand at work, and this emotional resonance is a testament to the power of cultivating a powerful and effective brand.

Products are made in the factory, but brands are created in the mind.

Walter Landor, Founder of Landor Associates

Your Logo is Not Your Brand; It’s Your Branding

The terms brand and branding are frequently, and incorrectly, interchanged. Doing so i’s not a crime, as we all know what is meant at the time we hear either term, but for your own business, it’s vitally important that you understand the difference.

But why?

Well, a logo can be designed quickly and cost very little. Equally, a logo can take months to create design ideas and multiple iterations until they arrive at ‘the one’ – and cost tens of thousands in the process. Your logo is the visual cue that signifies your presence, but it doesn’t encapsulate the essence of who you are or what you stand for.

However, your brand is quite different. It’s something that’s cultivated over time – often many years.

Your brand is a rich tapestry woven from multiple elements, such as customer experience, quality, and value proposition. It serves as a marker that identifies your place in the market. And it kind of happens around you and despite you, as it stems from people’s experience in or in connection with your business.

Your brand is something people will describe to others as the reason they should also use you/visit your shop, whereas nobody ever describes your logo to someone they’re trying to persuade should also buy from you.

A brand for a company is like a reputation for a person. You earn reputation by trying to do hard things well.

Jeff Bezos

When Your Brand Works Against You

A logo is malleable; you can tweak or revamp it as your business evolves. But your brand – that intangible essence people discuss when they’re not physically present – is a different beast altogether. Get it wrong, and you’re grappling with a problem that’s far more complex and pervasive, and potentially on a massive scale.

History is littered with £multi-million, sometimes global household names that have crumbled because their brand lost its allure and began working against them – despite the company sporting a smart, visually captivating logo.

For example;

Founded in 1888, KODAK dominated the photographic film market during most of the 20th century.

Ironically, KODAK invented the world’s first digital camera, but we’re stubbornly determined that digital photography would never outstrip film photography. Ultimately, they missed the digital revolution and their loyal customer base simply left them behind.

KODAK filed for bankruptcy in 2012.

– – – – – – –

Founded in 1985, Blockbuster Video became synonymous with renting movies to watch at home, back in the days when films were only available on VHS (and lesser-so Betamax) tapes.

Unfortunately, Blockbuster failed to appreciate the move to DVDs that Netflix capitalised on, and consumers began opting for a subscription-based home delivery service instead.

Ultimately, management was accused of overvaluing the strength of their brand. The business collapsed, and all 9000 Blockbuster shops were closed worldwide following bankruptcy in 2011.

– – – – – – –

In 2003, possibly before Facebook was even an idea, MySpace dominated the online social networking scene.

When Facebook launched publicly in 2006, users began losing faith in the direction MySpace was heading. Ultimately, its key differentiator; flexibility and free expression, began working against it and became the most common reason users left the platform in favour of Facebook.

– – – – – – –

Founded in 1927, Pan American World Airways, was a brand considered way ahead of its time. For more than 40 years, Pan Am enjoyed an enviable reputation that was associated with glamour, exclusive service, and international adventure.

Sadly, Pan Am suffered numerous challenges that caused serious harm to its reputation. Tragic accidents and terrorist attacks were irrevocably damaging, most notably the 1988 bombing of Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, a disaster that shocked the world.

Pan Am’s brand quickly became associated with being unsafe, and after struggling with debt and declining revenues, Pan Am filed for bankruptcy in 1991.

Key Elements of Brand Development

Logo: It’s Not Just a Pretty Picture

Your logo is simply a collection of shapes, fonts, and colours, yet it’s pivotal to your identity. Your logo is the face of your brand, the first thing people see. It’s crucial, and the shapes, fonts and colours you choose send psychological messages to your audience.

Have you ever wondered why many fast-food logos are red? It’s because red is a colour that evokes emotion and appetite. Your logo should not just be eye-catching; it should resonate with the values and aesthetics your brand upholds.

Mission Statement: Your Brand’s North Star

Think of your mission statement as your brand’s compass; it guides every decision you make – from product development to customer service.

A well-crafted mission statement crystallises your purpose and unique selling points in the mind of your target audience. It’s not just a tagline but a declaration that informs both your employees and customers what you’re all about. Your mission statement is a promise and a commitment – don’t take it lightly.

Value Proposition: What Makes You Stand Out

In a sea of competitors, your value proposition is your life raft. It explicitly states why a customer should pick you over a competitor or similar business. It’s not just about being unique; it’s about adding real, tangible value. Whether you offer better quality, lower prices, or stellar customer service, your value proposition needs to hit the mark and hit it succinctly.

The Lasting Impact of a Strong Brand

A robust brand extends beyond logos and mission statements. It infiltrates every facet of your business – from how you answer the phone to the quality of your products.

Brands like Apple have shown us that with a strong brand, you can command customer loyalty and even charge premium prices without customers so much as flinching. It’s not just about ‘looking good’; it’s about ‘being good’ in every sense.

Your brand is the single most important investment you can make in your business.

Steve Forbes, Chairman and Editor-in-Chief of Forbes Media

Conclusion: The Art and Science of Brand Development

Brand development is a complex and ongoing process that extends far beyond the creation of a logo or tagline. It’s about building an emotional connection with your audience, cultivating a strong value proposition, and consistently delivering on your promises. Understanding that a logo is merely a component of branding – and not the brand itself – is a key part of this and crucial in your understanding of building a brand.

Your brand is a living entity; it evolves, grows, and can even falter if not managed effectively. As demonstrated by the cautionary tales of KODAK, Blockbuster, MySpace, and Pan Am, even long-established brands can disappear when they fail to adapt or when their brand value diminishes in the eyes of their customers.

In your journey towards developing a compelling brand, consider not just your visual identity but your mission statement and value proposition as well. These elements are integral to how your business is perceived and can help you navigate the complexities of your own market.

The most resilient brands are those that manage to remain true to their core values while adapting to shifts in customer behaviour and market trends. A robust brand isn’t just a marketing tool; it’s a business asset that, when nurtured, can deliver significant financial and emotional dividends.

So, as you move forward, keep in mind that your brand is more than a mere marker; it’s the sum total of how people perceive you, a potent mixture of ethos, character, and public perception. And it’s this perception that will ultimately define your success or failure in business.

With more than 30 years experience in business and marketing, Clive is the visionary behind The Marketing Alliance, launched in 2018. Clive leads a curated tribe of accomplished marketing and business support professionals who consistently delight clients through their creativity, innovation, strategy and an unwavering commitment to excellence.
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