On a recent episode of Dragons’ Den, the presenter referenced one of the contestants saying that they had not only come up with a “brand” but also a whole visual identity.
I’m sorry, but these things are not one and the same.
The nature of brand is something that I’ve referred to frequently on this blog.
And I keep returning to the topic because one thing is clear:
The majority of people don’t understand what a brand is.
Some will tell you it’s the logo.
Others will suggest it’s the visual identity and the brand guidelines.
The more enlightened ones will understand that a brand is a heuristic consumer-centric shortcut for the products, values and tangible/intangible assets that you, your brand and product have at your disposal.
But deeper than all of that is one single core element.
Brands must stand for something.
That is the beating heart of brand – its core values and value proposition.
Its position on fair labour, fair pricing, ethical sourcing, utility, innovation, customer service and so on.
Its perceived part in the lives of its consumers.
Its raison d’etre and driving passion.
This is why pretty graphics and packaging can never be “the brand”.
While they may have soul, they have no beating heart.
So the next time someone tells you that they have developed a brand and show you some pretty graphics, counter that by asking them what and where their beating heart is.
The ones who know will answer you straight away.
The ones who don’t will point to their chests with a look of confusion and tell you all about the unique colour palette of their brand.
I wonder which company will win out in the long run…