Brand building and the illusion of control
For all the effort marketers put into building brands, the funny thing is we don’t control how you feel. A brand is only as good as a customers’ last experience.
A global brand is a set of intangible associations surrounding a product or service that permeate geographic boundaries. Great brands are hard to create; global brands are a feat of epic proportions that (pre- Google/Facebook) took generations to build.
— Prof. Scott Galloway
A few months back I wrote a very brief post about my approach to refreshing the brand at the company I joined earlier this year. Sharing it here should it help provide some inspiration for your next brand update.
If there's one takeaway from the post, it's that corporations don't really control the brands we build. I wrote:
For all the effort marketers put into building brands, the funny thing is we don’t control how you feel. A brand is only as good as a customers’ last experience. Think about the last “big brand” company you interacted with. How do you feel about them? Hopefully great, but often enough, not so much. Brands are, basically, built on trust.
My employer, ZAG Technical Services, is an engineering led business, and for good reason. We support some of America's most important agricultural businesses. If their IT fails, a lot goes very wrong, very fast, in one of California's largest economic sectors. I'm overplaying our influence for the sake of explaining the importance of getting your IT right.
I wanted to capture what inspired me to join the business. It wasn’t just the professionalism and integrity of the people I met. It was also that everyone at ZAG so passionately lived the company’s mission of “enabling our clients to succeed.” If we fail, things go very wrong for our clients. Trust is a big deal here.
I also introduced my concept of the "car bumper test" for determining the likelihood that your logo will make an impact.
Car bumper test what? Imagine you’re driving down a busy highway at 65 miles per hour, and you check the oncoming traffic. Cars are zooming by. You catch the grill of a passing vehicle and notice the emblem on the front. Is it a Ferrari? Honda? Tesla? GMC? Better than even chance, you know the car’s brand more often than not.
If your logo cannot past that test, you failed.
In the remainder of the post I share thoughts on hexagons, white space, fonts, wordmarks, brand colors, and integrating the brand into the company's communications.
A refresh rather than a total rebrand was the right move. An update is a relatively lightweight activity. It isn’t financially costly, is relatively easy to get over the line with the executive team, and can be delivered very quickly. In times of uncertainty, velocity always wins.
Increasingly, velocity wins.