Branding is branding is branding

There’s nothing new in branding.

So what is branding?

Simple question really, but so many people seem to have a misguided opinion on what the answer is.

For us it’s a mark of distinction, it’s a promise of consistent quality, it’s way of speaking and it’s a guarantee that a service or product will be delivered in a way we expect.

But if it’s a mark of distinction, then isn’t this the same as the original term for branding? You know the one – where you put a big stamp on the side of a cow to show you own it and its part of your ‘tribe’ or herd.


Cows are for branding, Brands are for people
Cows are for branding, Brands are for people

Sticking marks on the side of cows was obviously where it started, but now people who wear overtly branded clothes, shoes and hang out in branded retailers are doing the same. They are saying they are part of the same branded ‘tribe’ or herd’ as everyone else with the same brand.

For us, this is a slight problem. Just putting big logos on things is not branding, it’s putting big logos on things. Creating a product that people want to be seen wearing or participating in, so others can see them doing it, is real branding – and its where the future lies.

I was given a ‘corporate gift’ this morning. A business card holder with a huge logo on the side and it is hideous. Not just too big and bulky to work a business card holder but of really nasty quality. How does this reflect on the quality of the client’s inward investment service? What is says to me is that they do things on the cheap, they cut corners and are happy to accept shoddy stuff to hang out with their brand and will only serve to damage their long term future. If you gave 1,000 of them out, no-one who you would want to be seen using it would ever dream of being seen using it. It’s that bad.

If, what you are doing, makes them feel good, then keep doing it. If, as Martin Lindstrom argues in his book Buyology, it causes us to think of interruption, annoyance and the wrong type of herd mentality like the Nokia ringtone that we all hate, then stop immediately.

The future of your brand depends on it.

 Thanks to Michelle Lyles for the Cow Photo