Your Logo Is Not Your Brand

By Doug Hickok

Some company logos are so widely known that they are the face of a brand worldwide. They are not the brand itself, but they are the image associated with it. When you see a company logo, the image calls up your memories and feelings about the company’s products or services. Logos are designed to make you feel your loyalty to the brand and to stimulate your desire for what the company is selling. They are an important part of a company’s brand.

Branding has changed a lot, though, since the days when the logo was king and the marketing campaign was its core activity. Branding today has more moving parts, and is much more complex than it used to be.

The most common branding usually consists of a core message that is developed by the company, complete with a logo image, that is wrapped in upbeat videos and then pushed out to customers and potential customers through many outlets to get them to feel good about the company and buy more of what it sells. A brand is meant to create value through desire, to differentiate your products from other products, create customer loyalty, and increase your market share.

I call this the intentional external brand. It is the manufactured and idealized story of a company and its products that is aimed at an external audience. This brand advertising piece is put together like a movie, and is a well-polished, multi-faceted presentation that is a targeted hunt for minds, hearts and wallets.

This is the part of a brand that still gets the most corporate attention. Companies want so much to shape their relationship with you on their terms. We will tell you who we are, how you are to feel about us and our products, and what you are to do as a result (buy more stuff!).

In today’s media-besotted world, the target audience tries hard to block out the intentional brand barrage. They are overwhelmed by so much of it from so many sources, and they are savvy enough to be skeptical of its claims.

They are also very sensitive to unintentional brands.

Your unintentional external brand is how people outside of your organization experience your company. This part of your brand is experienced on many levels – it is reactive, rational, emotional, interactive and fluid. It is about what people buy, what they hear, how they experience you, your people and technology, and most important, it’s about how their relationship with you makes them feel emotionally.