BIAL (Brand Is a Logo) Syndrome: Why Do so Many Suffer From This Terrible Affliction?

By Wavelength Marketing10th June 2011November 10th, 2016blog


Our last blog post was a bit of rant.  We covered the (somewhat repetitive) topic of why a brand isn’t a logo. This was borne out of our frustration with the number of people, especially design folk (sorry for having another pop), who tend to consider a brand is a logo. Oh dear.

Since this post we’ve been asked why this problem persists by numerous folk. It’s an interesting question.  We’ve given it some thought and have tried to diagnose this chronic condition as the first step in administering a cure. From now on it should be referred to as BIAL (Brand Isn’t A Logo) syndrome by the brand marketing community. So why does BIAL syndrome persist? Here’s our view:

–        Short term financial imperatives. In today’s world financial returns need to be delivered as soon as possible. Building a brand (as we understand it) is a time consuming, complicated and strategic task.  Designing a nice swish logo can be a fairly expedient task.  This fits with the prevailing logic of today’s business. A form of instant gratification if you will. Unfortunately a paradox lies at the heart of this logic. Based on our experience, the BIAL syndrome adversely affects brand performance. It confuses people inside and outside the company.  There’s a visual and external / superficial change but not many people inside the ‘company’ understand why this change has occurred and what it means for them. This isn’t a great way to drive communications and behaviour that support a clear brand promise. It’s almost like throwing good money after bad. Oh dear. Less haste more speed may be the way forward. Build your brand from the inside out. That’s the way to get a bigger brand bang for your buck.

–        An ‘easier’ sell. Any credible service brand marketer will tell you that branding a service is a darn sight tougher than branding a good. The characteristics of a service – noticeably intangibility– are the reason for this. The perceived risk associated with purchasing an intangible makes life hard for service brand folk. We feel brand values (functional and emotional) lie at the heart of a brand. So brands, by definition, are intangible. We can’t see, touch, hear or smell values. Selling something to a client that they can see i.e. a logo makes life a whole lot easier.  It’s more comforting to pay for something you can see.  £50k for developing a differentiated and emotional connection based on values vs. £10k for a logo. The latter is an easier sell for sure.

–        The complexity of brand. People just don’t understand the complexity of brand. That’s not a criticism (as there are lots of things we don’t know much about!) just an observation. People just mix the brand and logo as one. It just makes life easier to lump everything under the umbrella of brand. It’s a bit like if you’re going on holiday diving holiday near a remote archipelago of Island east of Indonesian Kalimantan because it’s the season for manta rays. It’s just easier to say I’m going diving in Asia – but this hides the complexity of the route, planning, thought process etc. Same logic applies to brand. The simplification of BIAL skims the surface of brand complexity.

–        We tend to focus on what we know / are responsible for. Let’s face it. Whatever function you’re in you think that tends to be the most important to the business. Marketers think the world will stop spinning if there’s no marketing. Finance folk and other functions tend to be the same (with varying degrees of good reason).  The list goes on and we’re guilty of this too from time to time. We just wonder if the design guys tend to focus on BIAL as it increases the perceived influence of their work. Just a thought. A controversial one at that.

Based on our experience, these are the main primary causes of BIAL syndrome. Can you think of any more? Please do let us know if we’ve missed any.  This will then be a useful resource BP’s can direct BAIL syndrome suffers to at a later date……

#brand #logo #service brand #brand strategy #BAIL syndrome

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