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Article -> Differentiating Branding and Brand Accessories

Date Added: October 2006

Oftentimes, marketing and other people try to “dress-up” brands with recommendations including updating colors, fonts and designs. These enhancements may come with a hefty price tag. Leaders, on the other hand, are continually challenged to determine the real worth of these investments in branding and make decisions as to whether the investment is a true branding initiative or simply a brand accessory.
It is a difficult decision to invest resources in an intangible item like branding when decision makers are accustomed to having financial requests supported with fact-based statistical analysis and estimates. Many leaders are not comfortable making decisions when they do not have the answer to the question of, “how far into the future will the brand provide a return on investment?”
In many instances, requests for brand building are merely demands for brand enhancements such as a new logo or jingle. There is a huge difference between investments in brand building and those in brand enhancing. Unfortunately, many marketing people do not differentiate between the two.
Trade publications often improperly cite these new designs as efforts of brand building. However, brand enhancements are expensive design elements that may not affect brand value or even yield a return on investment.
This presents a problem. If marketing, communication and design people cannot separate brand investments from brand accessories, how are you supposed to differentiate at your organization? This can be accomplished by asking the following questions:1
  • Does the initiative help create, identify, support or reinforce the brand promise? – Brands are all about promises… from the brand to everyone involved with what the brand should represent.
  • Does the investment help increase and develop the number of brand advocates? – Supporters, such as employees and suppliers, keep a brand strong by getting customers to purchase additional products.
  • Does the investment help give meaning to the brand and build brand stories? – A brand story is the who, what, and why of the brand that aids in forming the brand’s life.
  • What effect will the investment have on contributors? – Investments in contributors are among the most important when investing in a brand. Contributors typically include employees, channels and suppliers. They are critical to a brand’s success, and are often overlooked.
While these questions may not seem very fashionable or flashy, it is important to apply them when your marketing, brand or product group requests funds for the brand.
1 Schultz, Don E. “More than Cool.” Marketing Management. May/June 2006: 10-11.
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