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Leave the Branding to Cattle

Maybe it’s just me (JK), but it seems like “branding” companies are popping up everywhere.  But no one’s really stopped to think about what that means.  This may be a bit of a rant, but hopefully there is some value in it.

There are a million “branding” companies out there because graphic designers have figured out how to sell themselves.  “Branding” has become a trendy word.  But to be frank, the vast majority of “branding” companies aren’t really “branding” companies.  They are graphic designers.

There’s nothing inherently wrong with that, it’s just a misuse of the word “brand” as it is used in modern business.  A brand is everything you do.  Not just your colors, your logo, your return address stickers.  It is how you interact with your clients.  It’s the feeling that your client has when they see your name.  A brand has intention, thought and planning behind it.  A brand isn’t just the sum of your colors and logo on your website.  Your brand is (and should based on) how your customers view (and want to view) your business – not your color preferences.

So just a thought… why is your (or our) logo the way it is?  The design of your space, website, logo, colors, blog, mailers etc. should be done in such a manner to convey your beliefs about business and evoke a particular feeling or reaction in your customer’s heart and mind.

Branding, today, seems to have reverted to its original form – stamping  cattle to claim ownership.  That’s all it’s become – a cool looking cow-stamp.  No more, no less.  That’s all well and good, but you have the opportunity to make an impact with your brand, not just make something look good/cool/fun/artsy.

Another term that I’ve been hearing a lot (not just in competition, but I’ve been asked to help do this), is “rebranding.”  Once again, frankly, this is another sales tactic by graphic designers.  It evoked a handful of thoughts in my mind.  In no particular order, here are a few of them:

  • sh_cowboy_branding_2_eWhy should I rebrand?
  • If I rebrand will more people buy from me?
  • Do people really buy from me based on my logo/color scheme?
  • Is this “rebranding” notion based on customer responses/research or just a moment of boredom in my own mind (so I can order new business cards, print materials etc.)?

So what does all this boil down to?  A few things.  Firstly, see “branding” (at least the current use of it) for what it is – a sales tactic by graphic designers.  Second, really think about your company’s identity.  How does it translate into everything you do?  (Note: unless your logo/color scheme is really atrocious, you probably don’t need to rebrand.)

But what’s that mean for Paired Inc.?  It means we aren’t graphic designers.  We are a marketing firm.  We don’t just make things look nice and pretty.  There has to be a reason.  We want to get to know you and your business, how you want to convey it.  We want to help you convey yourself in the best way possible to your ideal clients, in a way that is consistent with how they see [the best] you.  It means that we’re not going to take on a project that isn’t going to help you or your business grow.  If you come to us with a “rebranding” project, and we truly believe that you would be better off where you are, we don’t want you to waste your money.  Invest that somewhere else.

We realize that this means we aren’t for everyone, and we’re probably leaving sales and clients on the table.  But we truly believe that if you would be wasting your money by rebranding or hiring us (or anyone else), we can’t accept the project.   Why? Because we know that you love what you do – our job is to help you make a living from it.

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