I am an avowed carnivore.
There’s nothing like a superbly grilled, medium rare ribeye steak accompanied by a full bodied red. I am salivating whilst writing … But I must admit that I cringe when I see photographs of cattle being marked by the branding iron.
Did you know that’s where the word “brand” originates? It was one farmer’s way of distinguishing his cattle from the others. Brand – German in origin I believe. In Afrikaans it means “to burn.”
A tattoo is a bit like a cattle brand. An indelible mark on the skin, not so much to be distinguished, but to distinguish yourself from the herd. A bit like a logo.
The American Marketing Association officially defines the word “brand” as “a name, term, design, symbol, or any other feature that identifies one seller’s good or service as distinct from those of other sellers.” Hmmm… in my humble opinion, I have a problem with that.
Angelina Jolie has at least a dozen tattoos. These are not her brands. Quite frankly, I don’t care if Angelina has a dragon tattoo, or a dog, or a pussy cat. These are logos. Angelina Jolie is the brand. Because everything she says. Everything she does. Everything she does not say. Everything she does not do. Everything communicates. Absolutely everything. And boy, does she know how to communicate…
A logo is not a brand.
If a logo is used consistently, over time it comes to represent the brand and everything it stands for. But it is not the brand. Think of it as the brand’s signature. Like the Nike swoosh. Chances are that it gets you thinking of “Just do it” and Michael Jordan and Tiger Woods and celebrity football players and everything else that Nike stands for. But it is not the brand.
A brand is a lot more than that. And frankly, I don’t care what the brand is called or what its logo looks like. It’s the meaning that it assumes that matters.
Jim Pethokoukis recently tweeted that “branding recognizes that economics happens between your ears, not on factory floors or the NYSE.” Yes Jim. Brand creates value. And brand is nothing more than the set of impressions that exists in people’s heads and, I would add … the feelings that live in their hearts.
Look at Apple. From the brink of bankruptcy in 1997 to the world’s most valuable company in 2012. Selling computers, music players, music, telephones and, most recently, tablet computers. Apple has moved way beyond its core competence in computers. And millions are ready to snap up the company’s newest offering. Dell is equally capable of making high performance products which go beyond their core competence. But I can’t see myself buying a Dell phone. You?
As Simon SInek simply says, “we don’t buy what Apple does, we buy why they do it.”
We buy Apple values. “Think different …. here’s to the crazy ones.” We buy Apple because what Apple stands for resonates with us. We want some of that for ourselves. And we get it. In a phone.
Apple would be Apple even if it was called Banana. Or Pineapple. Now that would make a cool logo…