Confused Brands, Who/what Are You?!


Whenever i talk about branding with Zimbabwean designers or marketers, someone is bound to bring up Netone and (worse) CBZ as examples of new brand logos gone bad. Does ANYONE actually like those logos? I’ve yet to meet one – but at least someone made some money designing them.

Ah Anyway.

As bad as those are, poor design isn’t the worst branding mistake possible. Confusion is. Corporate brand confusion is often the result when bored executives in fancy suits start brain storming under the guidance of consultants who say “wow, great idea sir” when they should be saying “what? that’s a stupid not the best idea sir”.

Brand confusion also happens when business owners don’t know what they want to be known for or just can’t choose between two incompatible ideas. In 2008/9 if you asked the average Zimbabwean business person “What do you do?” the answer was “Ah shamwari, whatever makes money”.

The result was that you almost never called him, because you didn’t know what to call him for. It’s still going on today.

A big part of branding is focus on a single idea that you want to communicate. Just one idea, one concept. Sure, two or three ideas is more exciting and looks more profitable at first, but the truth is, it’s stupid unwise.  A brand is a story and you can’t tell two stories at the same time.

My recommendation – If you’ve got two brilliant ideas and you can’t let go of either, then assuming they don’t compete with each other, create two different and separate brands. Think Econet and Ecoweb or even better Chicken Inn and Pizza Inn.

The point is that one company (holdings) can tell two different stories, but a brand can tell only one (and yes, there is a big difference between a company and a brand) – the only caveat would be to stick to the same category as in the examples above (communication technologies & fast food).

Two or three completely unrelated ideas/ categories all on the same brand? Well that’s like being a Financial Services business that also sells furniture. It’s like a dog that’s a kangaroo that’s a snake – no one knows what it is or what to expect.

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