Point of View: The power of branding

Byron Sharp
Ehrenberg-Bass Institute

It's not uncommon for marketing consultants to preach the need for a meaningful logo, something that communicates by itself, from day one. For example, Ries and Trout used to argue that brand names like 'Head and Shoulders' were much better than meaningless names like 'Pantene' or 'Vosene', though the evidence seems to be against them. And design houses love to show collections of 'meaningful' logos, even if they really just mean 'clever' logos.

It's obvious where the idea of deep, meaningful logos comes from. We marketing people, of course, take our brands, and logos, very seriously and so there is a natural tendency to assume that consumers do too, but this is out-of-touch thinking. Brands, and their distinctive assets, are identifiers – that's their primary purpose. They (potentially) ensure that people know it is you, not someone else, advertising. And they allow people to see you on shelf and to repeat-buy you.