The difference between a logo and a brand

Many companies approach us about the struggles and misrepresentations they face with their existing identity system and brand. Many feel a good business face lift is order at this stage. But this isn’t quite the root of the problem.

The problem always lies with the brand. Enterprise marketing legend Seth Godin recently conducted an interview where he perfectly articulates how the value of a brand is measured by how much extra you will pay above the substitute.

“If Nike opened a hotel, I think we would be able to guess pretty accurately what it would be like. If Hyatt came out with sneakers we’d have no clue, because Hyatt doesn’t have a brand — they have a logo. If I swapped the signs on a hotel at that price point you couldn’t tell. If you were in a Marriott, Hilton, Hyatt, the hallway, the room, I wouldn’t know where I am — No brand.”

“What it means to have a brand is you have made a promise to people. They have expectations. It’s a shorthand. What should I expect the next time? If that is distinct, you’ve earned something. If it’s not distinct, let’s admit you make a commodity and you’re trying to charge just a little bit extra for peace of mind. The problem that Hyatt, Hilton, Marriott and the rest have is sort by price. If I go online now to find a hotel it’s really simple — sort by price. Why would I pay $200 extra to go a block away? I don’t.”

“What’s the value of a brand?

The value of a brand is how much extra I am paying above the substitute. If I’m not paying extra, you don’t have a brand. When we think about what brands ought to do to move forward, the most important thing is to not worry about your slogan, your spokesperson — they’re wrapping. It’s to worry about the substance. Work that matters for people who care. Find the people who care. The smallest viable group you can live with and figure out how to give them something that matters.”

There are hotels (these new chains of mini-boutique hotels) that charge double what a Hyatt might charge, for less. But it’s only less by the Hyatt measure. It’s way more by the measure of someone who cares about what the people in the lobby look like or who cares about how hip it feels to walk into the bar. They’re investing not in… ‘oh you get a room with three power outlets’. They’re investing in throwing a party in a place where you can also sleep. Those hotels have a brand and those hotels are what people pay extra for.”

— Seth Godin

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