A Sweet Logo Does Not a Brand Make

Elvis. Madonna. Cher. Seth.

When it comes to rock stars of the marketing kind, most of us know the Seth of whom I speak. No last name required. But for the few who don’t know, I’m talking about marketing guru and renowned author Seth Godin.

Seth’s blog sets the bar that I aspire to simply limbo under. His quotable words of wisdom are many, but one in particular, regarding the definition of brand, is forever, well … branded in my brain.

“A brand is the set of expectations, memories, stories and relationships that, taken together, account for a consumer’s decision to choose one product or service over another.”

I can’t tell you how often I’ve recited this mantra to clients and colleagues. When talk of branding or rebranding arises, it seems we immediately begin dissecting the logo. It’s understandable. In our meticulously designed, icon-saturated world, logos have become the visual calling card for organizations.

But equating a logo with a brand is much like equating a five-star meal with a restaurant’s décor. Everyone enjoys a beautiful setting, but if the food is blah and service stinks, no amount of ambiance will make up for an underwhelming experience.

When it comes to building a new brand or evolving an existing one, we must consider not only how we look but more importantly, what our story is.

Who are we? What do we stand for? What value do we strive to deliver? How are we different than that other guy? What are the expectations, memories, stories and relationships that when combined will cause our customer to choose us over them time after time?

A memorable, well-designed logo plays an important role in punctuating your company’s identity. But in truth, the best brand logos are born out of the best brand stories. Start the rebranding process by asking the right questions, reflecting on the answers, articulating your narrative and the many ways you’re going to live it. Once you’ve done that, a sweet logo is just icing on the cake.