Stand by your brand
We are currently engaged in a significant rebranding project for one of our clients. The reason for the rebranding is simple and totally appropriate. Their current brand, starting with their brand name, is simply not in line with their current situation and growth strategies.
Too many organizations rebrand for the wrong reasons, however. The most common of these is simply the notion that “it’s time for a change.” Perhaps the decision to rebrand is driven by new corporate or marketing leadership wanting to put their fingerprint on the organization. Sometimes it’s a way to convey to employees or investors that positive changes are happening in the organization. And sometimes it’s a new agency coming in and telling the client “you need to change your logo.” I’m reminded of a cartoon I saw once that showed two people watching new signage being put on a restaurant. One said “New restaurant?” to which the other person responded, “No, new advertising agency.”
Even marketing pros succumb to these temptations. A few of the Board members of our local American Marketing Association (AMA) chapter were recently given a sneak preview of a new AMA logo to be introduced soon. I may be mistaken about this, but I believe this is at least the third logo change for the national organization in the last ten years. Now I should remind readers of the gospel I have preached many times. A logo is NOT a brand. It is merely the visual presentation of the brand. So I will cut the AMA some slack and say that I do not perceive they will be redefining their brand. Still, I am inclined to view this kind of serial visual rebranding as excessive.
As is the case with the client I mentioned in the first paragraph, sometimes there are very compelling reasons to rebrand. But when it comes to branding, I tend to discourage change for the sake of change. The best brands represent years of strategic, emotional and financial investment. The return on that investment is the brand value or equity. Case in point: Coca-Cola. Forbes lists Coke as #4 on the list of the world’s most valuable brands at a mere $58.5 billion. Not bad for a company that has been around since the late 1800s. And if you look at some of the other names on that list - Mercedes, Nike, McDonalds, IBM – the same lessons apply. Bearing in mind what I said about the difference between a brand and a logo, it is nonetheless revealing that Coke’s logo has barely changed in over a century.
Of course, there’s more to standing by your brand than philosophic consistency. Marketers need to understand the power of their brands. A strong brand has a high degree of customer loyalty. It is essential that loyalty be reciprocated in customer interactions whenever possible.
Policing your brand vigorously is also important. If others infringe on your brand name, logo, tagline or other branded intellectual property, you need to be prepared to take the appropriate actions.
There are numerous other ways to stand by your brand that may well be the subject for a follow-up article. But the final thought I would leave with you today is to support and protect your brand internally. Make sure that the entire organizational team understands and is encouraged to live and breathe your brand strategies. It is easy to assume they are but if you are not being proactive in making sure the essence of your brand is thoroughly ingrained in the corporate culture, its full potential value may never be realized.
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