Your logo isn’t your brand.

I had dinner the other night with one of my blogging buddies, Bruce Fryer. He was telling me of the problems he’s having just getting a simple logo done (He was trying one of the cheapo Internet logo farms.) Bruce, being a master marketer, well knows the difference between a logo and a brand, so he was trying to be as cost-effective as possible. Unfortunately, other folks often get suckered by creative agencies selling a “branding program” that consists of a very costly logo wrapped in some high-level marketing speak re positioning and imaging.

Well, here’s the deal. I love Habitat for Humanity but I couldn’t tell you what their logo looks like (exactly) if you held a gun to my Mother’s head. It’s an abstract design with a house and some people and that’s as close as I can get. They recently changed it and I’ve not got a clue which is the old and which is the new. Target’s I can identify – it’s certainly simple enough – but the logo isn’t why I’m a fan.

So, a brand is not a cool logo – it is also not a web site, t-shirt, or coffee cup. All four have been touted to me by companies as “we’re branded.” Of course, it’s important to look professional and great style can get someone’s attention, but a logo never closed a deal or made a business. (I admit I’ve occasionally bought a bottle of wine because of the cool label but that was pure – and affordable – impulse. If the wine wasn’t good I never bought another bottle. I wouldn’t want to bet my business success on there being a continuous, large number of new impulse buyers.)

Think about it. Do you continually return to your favorite restaurant because you like their matchbooks? Ever bought a piece of software because you liked the color of the box? Did you increase your annual contribution to Habitat because you like their new logo (‘fess up, did you even notice it?)

Before you spend time (and money) with the creative team – do your strategy, know your targets and think about how you’re truly different (Be real. Don’t use buzzwords such as “quality” and “innovative.”). Focus on how can you position for long-term growth and sustainability.

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