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A Real ‘Light Bulb Moment’

Brand is defined as a “distinguishing symbol, mark, logo, word, sentence or a combination of these items that companies use to distinguish their product from others in the marketplace.” The definition is simple enough to understand and is vastly understood by marketers and successful companies attempting to establish their products in a crowded and competitive marketplace. Generally represented through a graphic mark or logo, brand identity, when properly and creatively designed, can speak volumes about a company, its culture, mission, products, and services. Like the song that you heard at a special time or place in your youth, hearing it many years later as an adult can illicit vivid emotions and memories of the events of a former life.

Successful businesses invest wisely and generously in their brands in an effort to make them memorable and easily recognizable, and to create a sense of quality and reliability. A well designed, displayed, and maintained logo will produce a value premium for a company by creating a certain level of product loyalty in consumers. It is part of what makes Coca-Cola more desirable to consumers than its generic equivalent.

But just as a smart, clean, and buttoned up logo can create equity for a business, a poorly presented public image can quickly become a liability when the brand is improperly maintained or positioned, particularly when it is placed in an environment where consumers can easily draw comparisons to the competition.

A recent trip through a well-traveled commercial area, via the expressway, provided a clear example of a brand asset becoming a brand liability. Approaching the exit, travelers came upon the familiar large signs designed to inform drivers of gas and food options available at the upcoming exit. These signs are very effective in getting hungry travelers to pull over and “fuel up” at a favorite eatery.

This particular sign displayed the brand logos of six nationally recognized fast food competitors. Five of the logos were bright, clean, and well maintained, but one major national fast food franchise’s signage was faded, with a cracked surface – barely legible at all. Driving past the business, situated among its attractive, well lit competitors, the restaurant featured a half-lit sign, a tarnished facade, and at least a half dozen burned out decorative light bulbs. Suddenly, the decision of where not to eat became an easy one. Checking back months later, the business still featured the same derelict appearance.

Well-formed marketing, brand identity, creative advertising, and promotional programs are essential to success in any industry, and touching all of these points are crucial to any business looking to rise above the crowd in a competitive environment. However, even the best designed and beloved brand can be instantly damaged by the neglect of the simplest of details.  Remember success in the details, and in this case, the light bulbs.

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