In a word, yes. But unfortunately, the word branding carries a lot of baggage with it because it’s misunderstood by many in the marketing industry. I don’t want to sound as if I think I have it all figured out but let me give you my impression of things. I think I could ask 10 people what branding is and all 10 people would tell me that a brand consists of their logo and maybe their business card and their stationary. I heard a guy tell me last summer that his company was getting a new brand. They got a new logo, not a new brand.
So then, if everyone incorrectly thinks that a brand is a logo and some marketing collateral, then what is a brand?
A brand includes your logo and your printed marketing materials, but it’s so much more. It’s deeper than those superficial things. A brand is intangible. It’s something that you can’t necessarily put your finger on. It’s basically what people think of when they hear your company name mentioned.
If I say, “Mercedes” what word comes to mind? If you said, “luxury” or “expensive” or something along those lines, you know their brand. That’s a strong brand. Practically every person in the world knows the Mercedes brand and would have a similar impression when they hear that company name.
Now, let’s look at a weak brand. When I say “Mazda” what do you think of? Nothing? Maybe a few of you might have thought of the little boy from their commercials that says “zoom zoom.” That’s not a brand. It’s a slogan. It’s an attempt at a brand. A brand is often a feeling. When you sit in a Mercedes, you feel the quality and the luxury. When you visit a Mercedes dealership, you sense the luxury from the moment you walk in the door. When you pick up their thick leather-bound brochure you feel the luxury.
On the other hand, when you walk into a Mazda dealership, you don’t get any feeling that is intentionally communicated from top to bottom. That’s why no one knows what Mazda stands for.
So let me ask you this…What do people think of when they hear your company name? If you don’t know, then you need branding. You don’t need a new logo. You need branding. You need to strategically think about what it is that makes you significantly different from your competition. Once you have the answer to that question, then you may be ready to think about a new logo. But be certain that your logo is designed to intentionally convey the specific message that’s defined by your brand.
So why would a website design company be blogging about branding? Because it’s critical to the success of your next website. I just spoke with a gentleman this afternoon who told me that he wants a new website but he was really turned off by the word “branding” until I explained the real meaning of branding. He had had bad experiences with other agencies that “sold him” branding and it turned out to be a bunch of talk. It was nothing more than a new logo and then came all of the expenses associated with adding a new logo to his company’s materials. That’s not branding. That’s a new design. When he heard me talk about branding, it brought to mind all of the past experiences with what others called branding. I can’t blame him for feeling that way. After all, it was a professional in the marketing field that misled him and made him believe that branding was synonymous with graphic design. He obviously didn’t want to just redesign all of his materials again. I wouldn’t want to hear another professional tell me that I needed to go through that same painful, expensive process again.
I could feel his tension lift as we discussed how a great brand is more than a new logo. It starts with the customer’s needs first. It asks the question of what they want and then aligns that with the solution that fits. Great branding is really simple when you think about it. It defines in a clear and concise way what the customer is looking for. Then, the job is to convey that brand message consistently across the company from the top to the bottom and that includes what’s on the website. You see, with out intentionally branding your company, you’re putting a message out there whether you like it or not. Do you want to control how the public perceives your company, or do you want to just leave that up to the competition? I hope that helps you the next time someone tells you that you need a new brand. They’re probably talking about a new logo. So, let me end this post by repeating my earlier question, “What do you want people to think of when they hear your company name?” Be honest with yourself. Do you have a consistent brand? If not, let’s talk.