Identity crisis: Why do brands matter?
The glamour of advertising often detracts from the realities of brand management and creating an image beyond the logo, says Kipp’s newest columnist, branding and marketing strategist Said Aghil Baaghil.
February 11, 2012 7:16 by kippreport
Many people I encounter seem to have the idea that a brand is just a logo. In many cases, people simply think of the brand as an “identity.” I have always fought such understandings, but the idea seems to hold sway.
The number of design studios and advertising agencies within the region far outweighs the capacity of advertising to help business, and this emphasis on advertising distracts business owners from the reality of what a brand really is. This school of thought has taken the market in the wrong direction, hindering the performance of local brands within the region. An over-reliance on the superficial considerations of logo, look, and design has become one of the reasons our brands fail to compete on the global front.
If a brand was merely a logo, then none of the companies that relied heavily on a great logo would have failed. But many have. Even a marginally competent design studio can come up with a name, design a logo, call it a brand and talk about it. Doing that much will not make a brand successful.
Understanding the fifty/fifty model
The idea of branding is far more complex than what most people might imagine. A brand is truly a life. Most people think of brands in relation to their tangible forms, such as logos, and ignore the ninety percent of the makeup of brands in terms of how they live and sustain their lives. For example, I have encountered many cases in which companies have chosen not to develop the complete brand, and have instead invested enormous sums on operations and product. The results were horrendous. In terms of the consumer experience, brands and products work under a fifty/fifty model. To state the matter in its simplest form: the consumer experience of your product is composed of fifty percent product and fifty percent brand.
So, the question is: do brands matter? Yes, they do, very much. They are part of every aspect of your company; even your employees represent and wear your brands. From the product’s name, identity, and essence, to your company’s culture and environment, to the brand experience, brands are an indispensible part of your organisation. Those who have reckoned that their brand was just a logo and have depended on their personal networks to address their company’s services have suffered, because they try to continue with something that initially worked for them but eventually failed. If brands were merely a logo, then all you would need to do is draw the identity and place it as it is. But doing so almost never attains results or attracts cash inflow from the audience.
Don’t let your brand image run wild
Another way of thinking of it is this: If it hasn’t occurred to you that all these aspects of your company, your strategies, and your products are part of your brand, that doesn’t mean that these things aren’t making up your brand image. These things are all part of your brand image, whether you’re taking care of them or not. The public will supply your brand image based on all these factors, even if you don’t want them to. If you’re operating under these conditions, it simply means that all the most important parts of your brand image are going unexamined and unmanaged. You have what we might call a brand image run wild, and it is almost certainly not doing your company and your cash flow any favors. No amount of advertising can serve as a substitute for a managed brand, and no amount of PR can undo the damage often caused by a brand image run wild.
Said Aghil Baaghil has twenty years of branding and marketing strategist. He is the author of The Power of Belonging and he will be sharing his expertise with Kipp readers every 12th of the month.
Here’s a clip of Said Baaghil at a TEDxTalk in Saudi Arabia: