What’s In a Brand?

by Joanna Pineda Posted on October 17, 2012

Many of my clients are rebranding. I think there’s something in the air. Clients are changing their names, updating logos, creating new palettes, and revisiting collateral styles.

But what does it mean to rebrand? Matrix Group Alex Pineda is obsessed with branding. He spends a lot of time thinking about logos, colors, typography, imagery, and user experience. Alex says that the sum of your customers’ experiences, over time, with your company, represent your brand and your brand promise. In the end, your name, logo and collateral may represent the design component of your brand but it’s the customer experience that helps you win, lose or retain customers.

Every time your customer visits your website, receives an invoice, and reads an e-mail from you, that’s your brand. How your organization answers the phone, completes a project, resolves a problems, sends a useful e-mail, or ignores a complaint, that’s your brand.

Alex also maintains that the design aspect of your brand should be consistent with the user experience. Think about the Apple brand. Apple promises a clean, simple, user-friendly experience. The logo is simple and spare. The website is simple and sleek. The language on the website and e-mails is friendly, free of tech jargon. When you visit an Apple store, the employees are friendly and it’s easy to get in and out of the store. All of that represents the Apple brand. Everything is consistent – by design.

Changing your logo and colors doesn’t mean you’ve rebranded. What was it about the old brand that wasn’t working and that you now want to change? What are you doing to change the customer experience and your internal staff culture so that they match the promise of the new brand?

Want to learn more? Alex recently did a Matrix Minute with me on branding. Check it out.

2 replies on “What’s In a Brand?”

I love the line “Changing your logo and colors doesn’t mean you’ve rebranded.”–so incredibly true. I would wear that on a t-shirt.

One of the brand sites I really enjoy is for MailChimp: http://voiceandtone.com. MailChimp’s brand is about being easy, humorous, and fun–but they explicitly spell out when to use that humor and when to be serious (dealing with customers in high stress situations). One can expect from their visuals (fun illustration/cute mascot) an easy interaction, but the MailChimp brand is reinforced in having a consistent voice.

One of the talks that really clarified my understanding of brands is by Simon Sinek:


In this talk he shows how great leaders inspire action. Midway through the talk, he draws what he calls the “Golden Circle”, with “What, How, Why” in concentric circles, with “Why” in the center. He illustrates that great leaders, and by extension, great brands, talk and act from the “Why”, in other words, it stems from an inner conviction, and and deeply ingrained belief.

Great brands, like Apple, express themselves from a deep inner core of beliefs. As Simon says (no pun intended), customers want to buy from companies who believe what they believe. A company’s brand should be an outward expression of its core values, clear articulated, so that they can reach customers who share in that belief. So, its not about what you do, but why you do it.

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