Why Branding?

I recently had a friend tell me that her brother was starting a business. My freelancer radar immediately deployed and I went into sales mode. If you’ve ever worked for yourself, then you know what I’m talking about. I begin listening for specifics and clues as to how I could help my friend’s brother and pick up a new client.

After she finished telling me about her brother’s business idea, I gave her my card and asked her to have him call me.

A few days later, I saw that same friend again and she asked me if I did logos as well as websites. My reply was, “Yes, I do logos But, I also do branding.” This simple comment led to a great conversation about the differences between the two and the need for branding over just a logo.

Here’s how the conversation broke down:

Q: What’s the difference between a logo and a brand?

My immediate response was, “Well, the price.” Unfortunately, for most of the world and small business owners, everything comes down to cost. And, in the world of marketing, the difference between building a brand and having a logo is largely associated with cost.

However, beyond the simple cost component, I explained that a brand is a complete and robust vision for what a company is and wants to be. A logo is just a tiny piece that helps to build that vision.

A logo is an element. It’s a mark of the brand that is distinguishable.

A brand on the other, much larger hand, is the collection of all parts of the company vision that develop a template for the future. A brand is the social media presence, the tone of the marketing, the look and style of an ad, the culture of the company, the corporate responsibility, and yes, it’s the logo stamped on the product.

Q: Well, how much is a brand?

I didn’t really know how to answer this question. In fact, how do you answer this question? You can pay someone to design a logo, put together a style guide, help define a vision & mission statement, setup your social media, etc. – but how much does it cost for an employee to connect with the vision of a company? How much does it cost for a customer to become a brand ambassador? It’s priceless.

After muddling through the response to the second question, I realized that I was being a bit of a branding and marketing fanboy. Because, after all, at the end of the day, most companies only want a logo. They want their employees to come to work and do a good job. Of course, they want them to be happy, but do they really care about branding? Unfortunately, no. They don’t care.

However, over the last few years, I’ve noticed a trend in more and more companies caring about their brand. They have a clear corporate responsibility and want to define amazing work cultures. Say what you want about millennials, but we want to believe in what we do. It’s not enough to just go to work and perform a task – that task needs to have meaning, which is developed and fostered by the brand.

Just like with marketing: you don’t produce content simply to produce content. That’s a waste.

As always, I hope you enjoyed a little insight into my mind. Go forth and be productive.