Going beyond a logo to building a brand

With Google changing its logo, we discuss the importance of branding and key elements that influence brand value.
Yesterday, 1 September, search behemoth, Google, introduced its new logo. The new design is a refinement of the previous one, but it is part of a larger and more significant strategic change that is occurring within that organisation.

Last month, Google Inc. announced it would be creating a new company called Alphabet, which will become the parent company under which all of its current companies and services, including Google, will be overseen. This change, which will be far reaching in scope, will drive, among other things, a re-branding of existing services into a more cohesive matrix. Google has been the first.

Google is the most popular website in the world, according to Alexa, and has over 60% of the search engine market in the United States (Source: comScore). Though the new Google logo is not a drastic departure from the previous version, the change, and perhaps more importantly the decision to change it, prompted us to revisit the concept of branding – brand power and brand value.

Branding 101

To the entrepreneur and start-up, the naming of a new venture can be a daunting task, as can have a significant impact of its overall success. However, once the name is confirmed and a logo selected, generally, micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) give little conscious thought to the brand they could be creating and nurturing.

To be clear: a brand goes beyond the name and the logo, to the message and experience an organisation hopes to elicit from customers. Further, it is important to emphasise that the value of a brand, the brand equity, can be significant contributor to the overall value of a company. For example in February 2015 and according to Forbes, Apple was recognised as the most valuable company with a market capitalisation of USD 700 billion, and the same publication estimated the brand value at USD 145.3 billion.

When determining brand value, three elements are usually considered:

  • consumer awareness of the brand
  • qualities consumers associate with the brand
  • consumer loyalty to the brand (Source: The Economist).

An inexact science

For each of the above elements, an organisation can implement a broad range of systems and activities towards developing its brand. Examples include:

  • marketing and promotion of its goods and services
  • implementing systems and processes that facilitate efficient and effective delivery of its goods and services
  • fostering a customer-focussed environment
  • producing quality goods and services for their price point.

However, it must be emphasised that whilst considerable resources and effort may need to be marshalled, the organisation does not fully control over how consumers actually perceive the brand. On the flip side, organisations also need to be honest with themselves and consumers about the goods and services they are offering and the impact on their brand. For example, if a business in selling “cheap and cheerful” products, with limited customer service and after sales care, the qualities consumers associate with that business’ brand are unlikely to be on par with those typically associated with a more high-end brand.

In summary, the change in Google’s logo is unlikely to have any impact on the company’s brand and its popularity globally. They might actually be enhanced, as it might be a good thing to refresh a logo from time to time. Hence, whilst having a well-recognised logo can be important initially to point to the products or services being offered, it can become less important over time as consumers will focus more on the brand attributes and qualities when deciding how loyal to a brand they will be.


Image credit:  Simon Bleasdale (flickr)



  • I think in addition, the nature and heritage significance of the business/brand contribute to the necessity for change or no change in logo. Those brands that ride on the wave of history, for example, may find it difficult to change; in fact may even evoke protests from loyal customers.

    Conversely, those brands that are given to evolve with corresponding changes in demographics and age, may have to adapt their logos in conformity with their customers.

    Coca Cola, for example, has had its current logo, and more remarkably the insignia, for many years. History is on its side. Imagine Coca Cola today radically changing that logo.

    On the other hand Samsung, from its 1980 logo to the one today – a complete re-invention. But that’s as it should be. New aesthetics in the logo necessary because the brand itself has radically changed with the inclusion of new technology products that are essential to contemporary demographics. To them history is not of the essence, in fact it could even be a drawback.

    • Kamutula, I wholeheartedly agree with you. Changing a logo can signal a change in direction of a brand, but it can also be a symbol of tradition and a comfort to customers.

Comments are closed.