The Deceit of Branding (or, Branding is Bulls#!+).

Brand is a misused and misunderstood concept. Branding is bullshit.
by xk9 l.a.  (not me, I some what disagree and partly agree, but this is a valuable opinion worth hearing ~cb)
In consumer terms, a brand is a noun; but it’s an intangible entity, more an idea than a thing. The brand is a perception, the consumer’s image of a company (or other entity/product) that comes from experience. A brand is also a reputation, developed over time. It’s earned. A manufacturer may control the quality of its product. The company is responsible for the visual design of its corporate identity and the physical design of its products. The company influences consumers’ experience through its customer service. But the brand is the result of the collective experience of these things (and others). The established brand is truly the domain of the consumer.
To Brand. As a verb, branding has referred to the act of creating a distinctive mark, it’s how cattle ranchers have shown proof of ownership. The resulting brand is a scar on flesh. Now it has become part of business jargon to refer to branding as the intentional manipulation and control of the public perception of an entity.
In the last 20 years there have been a growing number of individuals and agencies that claim to understand how to create and maintain a brand. These self-proclaimed branding experts have created an industry based on the assumption that this buzzword branding is actually a definable practice. These agencies have fostered their own celebrity by creating their own brands and promoting their supposed expertise. I firmly believe that the only brand they are successful at creating is their own. They brand themselves as experts, and they manipulate others into believing them, into valuing their opinion enough to pay for it.
They claim to create brands. I disagree. Brands exist independent of anybranding. I also believe that the actual brand is beyond their control.See also BP, Enron, Lehman Brothers…
I contend that the business of branding is a business of deception. Branding agencies have co-opted graphic design as well as the disciplines of advertising, marketing and public relations. They claim the same expertise as professionals who are expert in these areas. They have subjugated these disciplines to a supporting role; according to them, these work in service of branding. I believe this is utter nonsense.
In the mid to late 20th century it was leading designers who created the most powerful visual identities for corporations. Designers like Raymond Loewy, Paul Rand, Saul Bass and Tom Geismar created lasting images for successful enterprise. These geniuses could distill a company’s identity in beautiful, potent, memorable marks. I assert that identity design is still best left to individual skilled designers.
As a graphic designer who designs logos and moving images, I do not claim to brand. I create visual identity. Hopefully the identity accurately and effectively represents the organization it was created for. It may contribute to the public’s reaction to the organization, but ultimately, it’s simply the packaging of the sensory components of the consumers’ experience.
The idea of defining a brand as a key to business success is a hollow and, I think, futile endeavor. In spite of how you look or behave, public opinion will shape your brand. I believe that to focus on control of an organization’s brand is a waste of time and effort. Focus on quality products, a positive work environment and exemplary service before, during and after the sale. Your brand will be shaped by that.

About XK9

XK9 is a Los Angeles based Graphic Design studio that specializes in Motion, Identity, Type and Character Design. BONES is the blog of XK9 and Creative Director Bill Dawson.
Post a Comment