Off the shelf: When is a brand not a brand?

Brand for sale: previously unused, new owners must accept ‘Hessian’ as the name for their new or existing venture, yours for a cool $18,000, website domain included.
Hessian Brand For Sale
Designer Ben Pieratt has created a new brand, now he just needs to find a buyer. In an increasingly commoditised world, Ben is selling a brand as a product rather than brand development as a service… no development process to go through, just stick it on and away you go. What’s not to like? Well, the ‘Elephant in the room’ is that this bypasses the process from which clients derive much of the value of brand development i.e. involvement in developing a brand framework and brief that ensures a perfect fit between strategy and creative. With this process there’s no Eureka Moment at the arrival of a succinct & differentiated proposition and no debate as to the merits of the brand concepts that follow. It’s just there for you… on a plate… take it or leave it.

Of course, you could run your brand strategy development in isolation and just add a ready-made brand at the end. The words ‘Square peg’ and ‘Round hole’ come to mind though I’d prefer to ask the question ‘Do Fries Go With That Shake? (as I’ve wanted to use that song title in a post for a long time). I’m not so sure… if they do work together then it’s not by design, it’s down to luck and that’s not something I want to rely on when building an asset as valuable as a brand. The more likely scenario is that you’re left with a misfit, a brand that you begrudgingly like for all the wrong reasons…instead of one that you are proud of, have high ambitions for as well as plans for its nurture and growth.

The other slightly sad thing about ‘brand as product’ this is that it by passes the human interaction that makes great brands. The creative process is a fascinating mix of the rational and emotional; it feeds off people, the value of their passion, priorities and preferences cannot be underestimated. So, if you want to create a winning brand my advice would be to get involved from the bottom up, it’s enjoyable and valuable. As for Hessian, there might be a smidgen of PR value in taking it on and it’s started an interesting debate, but it’s not for me.

By Neil Perrott

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3 Responses to “Off the shelf: When is a brand not a brand?”

  1. Pete Clark says:

    It’s not that it’s a brand developed in isolation and without context — it’s not a brand at all, as you quite rightly alluded to in the title of this post. It might sound like I’m getting bogged down in semantics but this is, at best, a free-floating ‘brand identity’. and at worst a logo + extras.

    Pretty clever marketing stunt by the fellow that came up with it though.

  2. Neil Perrott says:

    Hi Pete, thanks for your comment & I think your latter ‘at worst’ description is closer to the mark. Your last comment says it all though it does throw up some interesting questions about which aspects of marketing can be automated without compromising the output…watch this space!
    Thanks again, Neil

  3. Marek Zacharkiw says:

    Great article and so much to discuss but I agree and wouldn’t really call it a brand as it has no connotations at the moment and no substance to it, and fully agree with you both as it is simply a logo and social media extras, which is essentially what anyone could create especially as there is no customer research, interaction or more importantly product for the “brand” to represent.

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