Why a Logo Is Not Brand-The New Cultural Imperative

Joe Duffy is a brand ID guru. For more than 30 years, he’s been designing logos. Now, he thinks logos are highly overrated. “As great as it is to see the brand’s essence distilled down into a tiny little graphic device, even when it’s done properly (which is rare, by the way), it can only be one of many moving parts create a connection between a brand and its intended audience,” he says. 

Duffy argues that what brands need today are a complete ‘language’ that is unique to them. This language must encompass every point of contact with the audience so that they know way the brand looks, sounds, even smells. It should convey in honest terms why the brand is right for its intended participants and why consumers should join up and be part of the brand’s team.

What Duffy is suggesting is that brands must carry enough signal power to be intellectually and sensorially experienced as a cultural phenomenon. Think about any ritualized cultural phenomenon. Consider “Back to School” across the United States. Back to School is a highly ritualized event that evokes a variety of sensory experiences: the smell of new books and crayons, the bright white of clean paper, the stiffness of new clothes, the first chill of fall in the air… Duffy argues that a brand can and should aspire to the same multisensory recognition.

It’s no longer enough for brands to get our attention. They must now infuse their essence into our lives. Is it time to gather your team and create the cultural code book for your brand? A while back, we facilitated such a process for a client. It had many positive results, but the most important was that it helped everyone in their organization understand their role in the sales process. Everyone learned the brand language. Everyone could speak with enthusiasm and confidence. Everyone could sell.

Check out Duffy’s new webinar on brand identity.

Photo by HannaPritchett