Saturday, 2 April 2011

"The Logo strikes back" - Return of the Marketing Machine | Consumer Goods Club - global business networking

A brand name is typically composed of a few carefully selected words. A slogan can communicate up to a complete sentence of concise communication. And a logo (a picture) is worth a thousand words. So if all is true, it would suggest a logo is the most powerful of all marketing communication devices. But does it have the power to drive the brand (on its own)?
To explore this further, I recently posted the following question to my professional business network, which raised some serious marketing eyebrows, and delivered over 30 quality replies by interested contributors.
The question as follows: “I have a strange question. Do you know of any brand or company or movement that has succeeded, only because of its logo? (This does not infer the brand, company or movement had no other credentials such as talent, or whatever, but rather the logo was THE dominant communication device with consumers).”
Here are a couple of the more interesting and representative contributions for your consideration:
“For a brand or movement to have succeeded primarily because of its logo would mean that people display the logo merely because they like the logo, rather than the idea behind the logo. As I reflected on your question I realized that seems to me effectively impossible. The reason is: a REAL brand (word/image) is only a symbol for something else. The symbol may tap into a meaning that is even stronger than the creator of the logo. So, the image of Che (Guevara) taps into deep meaning and a form of self-expression for the people that display it, but it was based on a very powerful reality to begin with. There was no brand or company behind the famous circular "Peace sign", yet it is a symbol for a big idea.

ON THE OTHER HAND - a logo or (especially) a character can have a life of its own and exist outside of their own brands/creators. So, you have the Smiley Face, Skull and Cross-Bones, and any number of characters that exist on t-shirts and DON'T reference a movie or other source material. A company might be very successful by hitting on one of these catchy designs and sell objects with them, but it is much, much easier to license a brand/character that already has some meaning behind it. 

SO, ON THE THIRD HAND, if you are looking for a logo and you have nothing else behind it, find a design that taps into a primary, deep idea people want to share and express: Love, rebellion, individuality, sex, money, etc.” [Contribution by Adam Burck]
“Logos require a lot of skill to invent and execute, but on their own, without linkage to a very real activity they are just empty vessels. I don't believe they can ever come first and establish meaning. It is possible to start with a logo as a blank canvas then infill meaning, but that requires a huge sustained investment in terms of tangible brand actions, PR and advertising. The difficulty (and perhaps benefit too) with logos is that they can only encapsulate simple concepts.” [Contribution by Martin Roche]
“Successful companies that push a unique and recognizable logo can eventually have that logo become the push for the company. I do not believe it can happen in reverse, and know of no instance where the representation of an item preceded the success of that item.”[Contribution by Gary Palmer]
“Logo popularity does not equal success. How many times have you said, or heard someone else say, "Wow what a cool logo. I think I'll buy that product?” [Contribution by Dave Chapelle].
“Kind of a chicken and egg question, in my opinion. I think that a cool logo can help to propel an already good product to new heights, but I think a poorly chosen logo can hinder a good product. On the flip side, I don't think a good logo can make a silk purse out of a soy's ear.” [Contribution by Robert Bragaw].
“I thought of French Connection UK. FCUK. I'll leave you to work out why!” [Contribution by Michael Maynard]
“Marco, I would have some ideas if your question were phrased substituting "succeeded" with "persevered" or "flourished" perhaps. Michael has a good point with French Connection, but I'd still say that they couldn't do it without having at least acceptable quality and "cool" factor for the audience of their product.” [Contribution by Vincent Vanderbent]
“I don't believe there is such a thing. 

The brand/logo/icon represents the product. 

It alone will not sell the product until it gets 
"branded" on the mind of users. 

Only then would the Playboy bunny play a 
role. The same applies to Mickey Mouse 
or the Polo player on clothing, etc. 

People do not buy Mickey Mouse. They buy the Disney experience. Without that, Mickey is just a cartoon character who would have a 
certain following in a comic strip, which is 
where he started.” [Contribution by Frank Feather]
“I'm thinking the "Intel Inside" logo, mostly because it really inferred a promise, not so much a product (I think 90% of most PC consumers wouldn't know a chip from a motherboard if they looked inside the PC!). Perhaps even more importantly, it's the Intel brand "sound" that cements it.” [Contribution by Rob Stobo].
Is FCUK a good example of a brand that succeeded primarily because of its logo? “I think I’ll buy that.” Yeah.
My verdict: FCUK logo – Branded. I regard ‘minimum acceptable quality’ and ‘cool factor’ (for the clothes brand) as cost of entry, not point of difference, let alone competitive advantage. The logo on the other hand, well, that sold the brand by itself at the time. ‘Marketing success by logo’ is how I define it.
But what about the logo for Intel (inside)?
Did this logo ‘sell’ the supposed magical power of what was otherwise a mere computer chip inside a PC, to an uninformed and uncaring consumer audience?
And what about Mickey?
Did the by now world famous picture of the mouse leverage the power of an already established brand? Or did the logo merely exploit an already established preference by children for animal figures and characters in an otherwise adult imposed world order?
What do you think about all of this?
Till next!
Marco Monfils
CGC Branded or Stranded Blog
Exclusively at
Note: The author reserves the right to change his opinion at any time☺
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