What a Brand Is – and Is Not

Brands disappear every year. Some of them are good, but most of them are not. Some are memorable — E.F. Hutton, General Foods, RCA — while others not so much. Anyone who grew up in the Philadelphia area, as I did, will remember long-gone company brands like Lit Brothers and Strawbridge’s (department stores), Schmidt’s (beer), and Gino’s (fast food hamburgers). Now area locals are hoping that new ownership (in Georgia) will keep Tastykake from following suit.

Every year the financial blog 24/7 Wall Street offers up its predictions for the next big brands likely to bite the dust. Its predictions for last year included Saab, Kellogg’s Corn Pops cereal, and Sears. This last one intrigued me after reading the article. I have to say I’m quite surprised because new CEO Lou D’Ambrosio is a guy who clearly understands the meaning of the word “brand.”

As quoted in the article, D’Ambrosio recently said of the last quarter, “We also fell short on executing with excellence. We cannot control the weather or economy or government spending. But we can control how we execute and leverage the potent set of assets we have.”

If you’ve ever been unsure of what a brand is, just reread that quote

A brand is not a logo. It’s not a tagline. It’s not new corporate colors or a usage guide for how and where you can use them. Those are all elements that support business branding. They’re all important, but they are most definitely NOT the brand. We here at Schubert b2b have a new logo and new colors, but they do not constitute a new brand. They are merely the visual manifestations of it.

Leverage the potential of your corporate assets to maximum effect

Brand is executing with excellence.

The Sears brand may yet wind up falling by the wayside for a multitude of different reasons. But, in this case, you can’t blame the current CEO for it. He inherited a bad situation and may not be able to correct it. But no one can say he didn’t understand his brand. For more information, check out Why Branding Matters.

How about your company or your client? Do they understand brand? How does brand knowledge impact marketing decisions? How important is it that leadership understands the brand? After all, D’Ambrosio’s deep knowledge of brand may not be able to save Sears. What do you think?

Rich CarangoCarango_color is president of Schubert Communications. Starting at Schubert in 1994, Rich now heads the agency in creating effective IMC campaigns, PR campaigns, advertising, brochures, direct mail, logos, websites, multimedia and content. Rich holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in design from American University. When Rich is not in the office he enjoys spending time with his wife and children and is a huge history buff.

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