In all the years that I have been in marketing one thing has become abundantly clear to me and that is many small businesses do not understand branding. Many small businesses are under the very false impression that branding is their logo and many seem to think that this is the most important part of marketing and public relations. FALSE. Branding is so much more than a logo; don’t get me wrong your logo is important but it’s just a small aspect of branding. Before I go on to explain what branding is and should be let me first say that many small businesses put way too much emphasis on their logo alone; they think that this is some magic icon that is going to make their business all that they want it to be; it’s not and it’s not going to.
Again don’t get me wrong a logo is important and many fortune 500 companies have spent thousands on consultants to create the perfect logo for their company. But one of the misconceptions of small businesses is that a logo has to be flashy, something that will be remembered, something that will sear into the consumers brain; this is anything but the truth. Some of the best logos are very simple; G.E. for example, IBM, Dell, AIG, GM, P&G, MetLife, all have very simple logos and they are not alone; the logo itself is not what makes it memorable it’s the branding behind the logo which brings me back to explaining what branding is.
I like to think of branding as the personality of a company; just like people every company has its own distinctive personality. The logo is not the personality of the company, it’s simply the look; the look itself does not determine the personality, there is much more to a personality than just a look. Now like a person the look can be based on the personality but it doesn’t determine the personality. The logo is just one part of the branding body. Branding is based on many things; the individual culture of the company, the beliefs that the company has; what they stand for, what they believe in. What is the company’s mission and overall goals? Are they a for profit company or a nonprofit? What type of corporate sponsorship and charity is the company involved in? Where does the company lean politically? All of these things add up to the company’s personality AKA the Brand.
When you hear about a company you should not think of the logo; when you see a logo you should think about the company. The brand behind the logo is what makes the logo. When you see the Nike Swish mark, you don’t need the word “Nike” to know who it belongs to, you know that it is Nike; that’s because of the branding that Nike did and that branding is what supports their logo.
It is important to build a brand behind your logo; the logo alone will not create the brand.