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Brand is not just a logo and a tagline.

By Brian Odell   

This is a frustrating topic for me because many of the firms in our industry call themselves branding agencies. However, to many of them, this means logo and identity system design only. The truth is, designing a new logo and coming up with a new color scheme alone is not branding. And it’s definitely not a prescription for business growth.     

In reality, brand is much deeper. It’s what a business is about in the hearts and minds of the people most important to its future. It is the sum of all the experiences these people have with your products, your services, and your organization. Brand is everything, and everything is the brand.  

Your brand is your strategy.

Where you’re going as a company and how you plan on getting there is your brand. It starts with your vision, mission and core values, and follows through to your competitive positioning. It’s the story you tell about why you exist and why prospects should care. It’s how you go to market and the mix of products and services you offer.      

Your brand is your product.

If your products fail to live up to the expectations of your customers, then that becomes your brand. Brand is how products function, how long they last, and even what they look like.

Your brand is your customer service.

If a customer calls you and gets caught in a voicemail tree, can’t figure out whom they should talk to, and leaves a message for someone unsure if it’s the right person, that’s your brand.

Your brand is your people.

Brand is your people and how they represent you at every touch point and in every interaction. Having a good team starts with good hiring practices and continues with consistent training and development. It doesn’t matter if they all wear the corporate colors, if they are indifferent about their job it will show. That’s your brand.         

Your brand is the way you speak.

If you design and build a new website, but fill it with outdated content, you don’t have a new brand. If you let technical jargon, acronyms and convoluted abstractions dominate, that’s your brand. If your videos and customer presentations put people to sleep, that’s your brand. Conversely, if you write about your products in glowing terms, but they fail to live up to expectations, then that’s a big brand disconnect.     

Your brand is your array of communications tools.

In the digital age, the user experience is your brand. If your website’s functionality frustrates people, it says you don’t care about them. If they can’t find the information they need, it signals to them that you have no answers. Brand even extends to things like quote forms, contracts and HR manuals. What do yours say about you?   

Your brand is your logo and identity too.   

A great brand deserves a great logo and a dynamic identity system. It can help make a difference when prospects are choosing between two seemingly equal brands. But on their own, they cannot make your brand great.

Clearly, all of these things are important. If you want better business results, your brand has to stand for something compelling. And then everything has to be aligned to fulfill the brand promise. Brand value is now most companies’ single biggest asset, outweighing even tangible assets. Ultimately, businesses are now only as strong as their brands, and nothing else offers business leaders as much potential leverage to drive growth and profit.

If you want a new brand, call a brand strategy and activation firm like Catalyst.        

Brian Odell

About Author

Brian Odell

30+ year veteran of B2B branding and marketing communications. Started out as a technical copywriter. Worked in PR. Eventually moved to account service. Founded Catalyst to serve B2B marketers looking for ways to leverage their brand as the stimulus for company transformation. Lots of experience, but definitely new age when it comes to brand strategy and activation.