A brand is not a name or a logo (Part 3 - making a killing ) ~ Brand Mix

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

A brand is not a name or a logo (Part 3 - making a killing )

For Part 3 of this series (here's Part 1 and Part 2 ), I thought we should consider what happens when you kill a brand name. If a brand is not a name or a logo, can the name and logo be changed as long as the experience remains the same? How easy is it to transition a brand's equity to a new name?

This is an important consideration in brand architecture and specifically post acquisition where the cross-selling and marketing efficiency advantages of consolidating all the business under one brand have to be balanced against the loss of brand equity that such a change necessitates.

In B2B, at least, experience does seem to be the driving factor. When one brand is replaced with another, B2B customers typically have two questions: 1) Is the product and service going to be the same (or better)? 2) Do I still have the same contact person and is customer service going to be the same (or better)? If the answer to both questions is "yes," then customers are generally satisfied. B2B customers focus on the relationship more than anything else.

But where customers may take this rational perspective, employees at acquired companies are inclined to the emotional. Speaking from first hand experience, I know that the loss of a company name and logo can cause lots of weeping and gnashing of teeth even if the working experience improves. Employees are connected to the name and logo of their company more like the Mongols gang members of Part One are connected to their patch (hopefully less intensely). B2B companies that plan to eliminate the brands of an acquired company may need to reassure their customers that things will be OK but they may have to work really hard to win the hearts and minds of their new employees.

Outside of B2B, things are murkier still. Brand experience helps shape brand perception but it's only one of a range of factors and not necessarily the most important. Think of Macy's acquisition and rebranding of Marshall Fields in Chicago. How much of the outpouring of emotion about that was the result of an objective assessment of the brand experience before and after? How much tied to the loss of the name and all it represented? The fieldsfanschicago site is still going strong so you can judge for yourself.

As Walter Landor himself said: "Products are made in the factory. Brands are created in the mind." Brands aren't things. They are impressions built from past experiences, ad campaigns, what your best friend at school said years ago and, perhaps, what people on Twitter are saying today. Names and logos represent all of that so they are a critical part of the mix. That's not to say that they can't be tweaked, changed or even eliminated if needs be. Just that care and consideration is required and it's risky to assume that the only thing that matters is the brand experience.

1 comment:

Anna Kowalak said...
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