Some thoughts on branding

I do more thinking about brands, mine and my clients’, than I care to admit. As a result, I’m usually interested in what others in the design and marketing fields have to say about branding, both as a concept and as a service. Here are a few thoughts generated by bits I’ve read over the past month that I found intriguing.

It’s not about the logo
A logo does not make a brand. While the reverse is also not the case, it is closer to being accurate, as the proper development of brand will build meaning for your logo over time.

On the lowest level, branding is confused with the creation of a logo. This is a perverse – yet surprisingly resilient – falsehood. An icon, monogram, or wordmark is in no way a brand—thinking so is akin to believing that a hood-ornament is a car. Yet, this is where a great number of brand projects start: “Yay! We’ve started our company! Let’s brand it with a logo!”Eric Karjaluoto, The most important question in branding

Positive Expression
In a world where people have (and use) more tools than ever with which to share their thoughts with the world, it is more important than ever to choose your words carefully. Your words, your thoughts, and the associated actions exist in a inter-related web that serves as your identity, and by extension, your brand’s identity. Blair Enns’ Seven Words You Can’t Say in Business Development reminds us of the Chinese saying that roughly translated says, “Watch your thoughts, they become your language. Watch your language, it becomes your deeds. Watch your deeds, they become your behavior.”

Expert? Really?
It seems there are far too many brands claiming expertise in their industry with little basis beyond membership. This unfortunate trend exists in the graphic design and marketing industries as much as anywhere else, and may indicate a mindset that allows this philosophy to permeate the work that these firms do for their clients. I’m reminded of another quote from Blair Enns:

I hate the word ‘branding’ as a claim of expertise. An expert is someone who has a deeper knowledge of the subject than others trading in the area. I wonder if there’s even such thing as a branding expert. There are just too many people in it and very, very few that have meaningful knowledge that others do not. A designer claiming expertise in branding is like a fish claiming expertise in swimming. It’s not expertise; it’s the price of entry.Blair Enns’ Win Without Pitching

Never underestimate the power of a planted seed: