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Inspired by an office debate, Creative Director, Al Lecomte gives his take on what ‘Branding’ is and isn’t.

How many times have you heard someone comment that they don’t like a brand because the logo design is poor, or doesn’t subjectively appeal to them? I have certainly heard it from clients and colleagues alike in the past. But a brand is far more than ‘just’ a logo…

Building on a recent LinkedIn post from Stefan Maritz, I address this very subject.

Stefan makes 12 observations, all of which explain what branding is and isn’t. I try to give my interpretation of how I feel they apply.

01. Branding is NOT Marketing, it is a concept.

Branding is an idea and even a belief system when passionate people authentically believe in what they are doing.

02. Branding is NOT a flavour, it is a feeling.

The taste of Coca Cola or a McDonald’s burger is unique and noteworthy but without the history, eco-system and almost cult-like following, it’s a fizzy drink and beef patty in a bun.

03. Branding is NOT a product, it is an experience.

Branding is engaged with. Branding is experienced by multiple touchpoints, directly, visually, audibly and subconsciously.

04. Branding is NOT an interaction, it is a relationship.

As a creative, I believe that I’m a problem solver, but also a facilitator of relationships. That relationship not only manifests in the work I create, but in the relationship I cultivate with those clients. This contributes to both my personal brand and that of Brandwave.

05. Branding is NOT a logo, it is the memory thereof.

The visual association of a brand is the logo but it simply cannot convey a brand in its entirety.

06. Branding is NOT a colour, it is the association with it.

This highlights the desire to own a colour within a marketplace as Bianchi does in cycling and McLaren does in F1.

07. Branding is NOT content, it is the meaning behind it.

A brand’s ethos and tone of voice should manifest through its content and how it’s presented.

08. Branding is NOT a story, it is the reason it is being told.

The history, the journey and the people – past present and future, all influence what that story is and how it’s told.

09. Branding is NOT culture, it is the manifestation thereof.

Culture evolves with both time and the people within it.

10. Branding is NOT what is done, it is how it is done.

‘How’ something is done as opposed to ‘what’ will always differentiate from anyone else.

11. Branding is NOT what is seen, it is what is remembered.

Something that sticks with me is that “Everyone remembers what you did badly, not what you did well.” This is where many get their opinion of a brand from. It is not just how the brand looks but what experience and memory they have of that experience.

12. Branding is NOT a community, it is what they have in common.

This ties in well with relationships, communities are groups with aligned ideas and beliefs. Now more than ever, brands need their employees and customers to align and resonate with their reason for existing. This is one of the founding principles that Brandwave is based upon – We understand your target market because we are your target market.

Truth be told, branding is all of these elements combined. Brand creation and brand strategy are incredibly complex and at times massively subjective. Businesses collectively spend billions of £ on developing theirs, with varying results. One thing is certain, people buy for their reasons, not yours.

Alastair Lecomte