The B word: the misuse & overuse of “brand”

For some time now I have been growing increasingly turned off by the ubiquitous and ambiguous use of the term “brand”. As a result, I was delighted to stumble upon a recent entry in Russel Davies’ blog Advertising Practitioner, entitled Branding – the even more dismal science, in which he examines “how the idea of a brand has been so devalued by overuse, over-claim and over-thinking.”

I particularly agreed with his declaration of the simple, yet oft-forgotten truth that “Not everything is a brand.” Davies suggests that ideas to the contrary originated in the mid 80’s, fueled by a belief that branding was the future of business. When businesses began to recognize and record brand value, an industry of consultants arose, eager to charge a lot of money to provide advice on brands. Davies writes, “And it was, of course, in their interests to say that everything was a brand. Yup, that’s a brand, we can advise you on that.”

From brand to logo – or from logo to brand?

Sometimes you read something that really hits home and expresses your own thoughts on a subject in a way far better than you could have yourself. Such is the case with this, my favorite highlight from Davies’ post:

I think it’s the hubris we have to get rid of. Launching logos is not the way forward. A logo should be repository of meaning, not a substitute for it. And you have to build that meaning, not borrow it. We should be announcing smart and interesting things and then saying; by the way, this is the logo for it.Russell Davies

Not surprisingly, as one who designs logos professionally, I firmly believe in the value of an effective logo. In a visual media-driven world, a good logo aids recognition and awareness among audiences and is a huge asset to effective marketing. That said, that value quickly disappears in the absence of any real meaning, interest and authenticity behind the logo.

Never underestimate the power of a planted seed: