Beware Brand Bandits

"Beware brand bandits" by Greg Alder

What’s a business owner supposed to do?

There are consultants out there who call themselves branding agencies. They’re not. They’re logo designers.

They offer to develop branding for a business. What they’re really offering is to create a new logo, which they wrap in a bunch of strategy stuff and post-rationalise the significance of their design – so they can charge more for their work.

They use phrases like “this arrow design suggests growth”, “the cupped hands communicate caring”.

What they don’t talk about is what a brand really is.

It isn’t a logo.

A brand is an emotional connection, a place in your audience’s lives.

A brand is a grand vision. It is passion and ethics and language.

A brand is trust and value and attitude.

A brand is in the DNA. It is at the heart of everything a business does.

A brand is built over time, not created in a day spent doodling.

A logo is simply shorthand for all of the above – an emotional trigger. The way it’s supposed to work is this: A consumer sees the logo and feels a warmth.

If these brand bandits stopped at logo design, that might be okay. However, what many of them do is force their logo onto other aspects of communications.

They want ads and brochures and posters to use shapes from the logo. Whether these design elements help or hinder communication is never considered.

They want art direction to follow suit – even where these constraints force headlines or images into secondary roles.

If these so-called brand agencies don’t understand what a brand is, then what hope does a client have?

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