A friend of mine recently invested in what he described as a re-branding exercise.
Showing me the new logo, he asked what I thought of it. I managed to bite my tongue and not begin the diatribe that was already formulating in in the back of my mind, and simply replied, "Very pretty."
It is possible that I should have just started the diatribe: he may have looked less offended. "Pretty?"
Well, it's true it was a very pretty design, whoever did it, and jolly good for them. No doubt the shape and colour scheme were exactly a match for his target market.
"Well, it's just a badge, isn't it?" I asked. "A very nice badge. One that will, I am sure, find favour with your customer base, whoever you perceive them to be. But still, just a badge. Hardly a re-branding exercise."
He could have looked more disappointed at my reaction, but it's hard to see how. "Just a badge?"
I persevered. "Yes. Just a badge. Think of your business or product as if it were a sports team. Whatever badge is on the the club shirts, ties and blazers, whatever colours the team plays in, the way the team is viewed is based on its results, not on the attractiveness or otherwise of its kit."
I think I may finally have been getting through to him. "So do you think I've wasted my money, then?" he asked. "Not necessarily," I said. "It rather depends on what else you're doing as part of all this re-branding."
MORE THAN JUST A NEW LOGO
Every company logo needs refreshing from time to time, to stop it looking dated and out of touch. My own included, And I shall have to grasp the nettle at some stage, I know. Usually, this is a case of evolution, not revolution.
But the fact is that your brand is about much, much more than its simplistic badge.
As Peter Drucker put it, "Marketing is not a function. It is the entire business, seen from the customers' pint of view." And for business, you can read brand.
What people think of a brand - its strengths and weaknesses - are determined not by the badge on it, but by the fundamentals of its performance. Apple's success is down to the superiority and innovation of its products, not its logo, however distinctive and ubiquitous.
So any re-branding exercise has to go to the core of the product's or service's proposition. What does it mean to its loyal customers? What is stopping occasional users from being solus users - advocates even? What prevents non-users from even trying it?
These are market research questions that probably need investment in focus groups to get any meaningful insights, but deep down, you probably already know - more or less - what people think of you.
And those thoughts will be coloured by such considerations as how easy it is to do business with you; how you handle complaints; how competitive your prices are (or need to be); how efficient all your processes are. And many other considerations, too numerous to discuss in detail here.
The fact is, I don't care how modern or retro Amazon's logo is, provided the goods get here in 48 hours (they usually do).
If all you're doing is tinkering with the logo, without visiting all the key business fundamentals that underpin it, you're carrying out a design, not a re-branding exercise.
As the old saying goes, you can put lipstick on a pig, but it's still a pig.
As part of my own brand refreshment, I am instituting a new blog, in addition to this monthly newsletter, linked to a landing page offering a FREE 56-page E-book to all recipients.
I'll be launching it in November's Bugle and will be inviting applications and feedback from all my regular readers. If you've got this far and are still with me, that means YOU.
So look out for The Little Green Book Of Business Growth, due for publication in early November.
Want a conversation about the implications for your business? You know where to come.
David Croydon: 01844 238692 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org