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The Role of the Logo in the Third Age of Branding

via ~ Branding Magazine

role-of-the-logo-1Branding has come a long way since its humble beginnings. I wont attempt to put a date on said humble beginnings, for branding dates back thousands of years. Its even said that evidence of advertising has been found amongst the Babylonians in 3,000 BC.

When branding began is irrelevant now, in any case. Whats really interesting is the journey and rudimental development of market forces. Unique selling points, differentiation, quality assurance, provenance all modern terminology, but age-old tenets of the free market.

The idea that weve recently transitioned into a third age of branding is one weve discussed previously, but its a theme so expansive that in many ways I feel weve barely scratched the surface. If you consider that the second age of branding (that which weve just left) was evident across the majority of those 5,000 plus years, then the connotations of this new world is one with incredibly rich and wide-ranging implications for brands big and small, young and old, all over the world.

One of the ways in which Ive previously expressed this shift is that brands are no longer constructed in the ivory towers of Madison Avenue, brought to life and romanticised so brilliantly by Mad Men. The role of the marketer is still important, but, like a parent seeing their child taking their first steps out into the wider world, marketers must have belief and confidence in the integrity of their brand to stay afloat and stand on its own two feet in an environment over which they have fleeting control.

As such, the logo a relatively tiny, universal mark that embodies the values, ethics, traits and perception of an entire organisation is something that immediately comes to mind as a dichotomous presence in the third age of branding. In many ways, isnt the logo the antithesis of the third age? Isnt a grandiose investment in a logo meaningless when unsupported by a consistent, authentic brand experience?

Indeed, for many, logos are merely a hangover from old-school branding prioritisations, an anachronistic approach to the differentiation of products or services. How much importance do consumers really place on a copyrighted pantone or a brands investment in a bespoke typeface?

A discussion on logo change tends to polarise into two view-points. One says that logo changes are unnecessary and meaningless. The other maintains that logo change is at the heart of a brand refresh. Both, however, would be wrong.

The confusion stems from the fact that logos are the most visible part of a brand. When a brand announces a refresh, the logo is the first thing that catches the public eye and attention, and is taken at face value. As a result of this initial impression, different brands with vastly different strategic approaches to a brand refresh or launch are tarred with the same brush.

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