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A Brand is Much More than a Logo

Posted on February 23, 2015

To many people (even those in marketing who should know better) a “brand” is a “logo” or icon that visually represents a company, association or organization. Sometimes this logo is enhanced by a one-line description of the company or its product called a “tagline.”

Your brand is your company's personality.

It’s the first image that flashes through consumers’ minds when they see your logo or hear yourcompany name. Your brand is the essence of your company, your culture and your reputation. And creating, developing and maintaining your brand is key to successfully competing for customers. Why?

Because the human brain has only so much real estate. And if Coke, for example, “owns” the “top of mind” grey cells that control the decision to buy a soft drink, then other soft drink companies are going to have to work that much harder for every sale. (Just ask the Pepsi-Cola Company!)

How do you stake a claim in your target market's memory?

It ain’t easy. It takes a deep understanding of your product, your market, your competition and what your product offers that others don’t. It also demands marketing communications that connect with your audience on an emotional as well as an intellectual level.

Here’s how one brand became a superstar through brand marketing.

In the late 1950’s a German manufacturer started marketing its small, fuel-efficient and affordable cars in America. Slow, small and nicknamed for the insect it resembled, the car was the Volkswagen “Beetle”.

What made Volkswagen unique was that while other cars were advertising the attractive attributes of their latest models - cutting-edge design, speed and roomy interiors - it focused on the target market. Under the auspices of its ad agency, the legendary Doyle Dane Bernbach, Volkswagen addressed the immediate needs and future goals of young, ambitious but not-yet-affluent Americans who were ready to buy their first new car.

The “Beetle,” in contrast to other foreign cars, didn’t flaunt its European heritage. (Far from it – since Germany was not everyone’s favorite country following World War II and the car itself had a close connection to Hitler.) Nor did it scream about its relatively low price. Instead, Volkswagen ads described its innovative and reliable engineering, great gas mileage and maneuverability in self-deprecating terms that charmed readers right and left. Its advertising had a wit, honesty and intelligence that made consumers feel like they were acquiring all of those attributes themselves just by reading the copy. Volkswagen became an icon not just because it was a good product, but because it was a brand that grabbed the imagination, interest and affection of the American public and never let go.

Is marketing as difficult as brain surgery?

I realize that some people feel developing a brand for a car or other product isn’t particularly complicated, let alone noteworthy. I beg to differ. Getting inside someone’s consciousness AND their emotional core in order to not only change their perception of a product, but inspire them to act on that change is serious stuff. It takes courage as well as creativity. So don't settle for just a logo. Build a brand that has enough power, smarts and energy to get you ahead of the competition. Otherwise, you may find yourself falling way behind.



© 2014 Wendy Lalli

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