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An excellent article by Dan Pallotta at the Harvard Business Review blog makes the important point that a brand is so much more than a logo. I really enjoyed the whole article and recommend it in its entirety, but here is a particular part that I want to highlight here:

“Brand is the way you speak. If you build a new website and fill it with outdated copy, you don’t have a new brand. If the copy is impenetrable — a disease of epidemic proportion in the humanitarian sector — that’s your brand. If you let social service jargon, acronyms, and convoluted abstractions contaminate everything you say, that’s your brand. If your annual report puts people to sleep, that’s your brand. If it’s trying to be all things to all people, that’s your brand.

Message is a central part of your brand, but message alone cannot make a great brand. How many times have you encountered a product or service that didn’t live up to what the copy writers told you about it? That disconnect is your brand.”

Pallotta makes his point with such efficiency that it is not worth paraphrasing or analyzing it!

As a writing consultant, I find it reassuring to hear this advocacy of the centrality of the message in creating a brand.

  • What you say matters.
  • How you say it matters.
  • Why you say it matters.
  • When you say it matters.
  • Where you say it matters.
As you can tell, the idea is not new. And yet, brand renovation discussions often focus on design and style to the exclusion of the message that is being modified.
The other really interesting point of the article is that the sum total of all that what we do is our brand. Given that small business and independent entrepreneurs have a brand,whether we choose to call it that or not, it is worth making sure that we are really sending the message that we want to send!