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Your brand is an iceberg

Many people think of a rebrand as changing the logo. But to do it well needs to go deeper than that…

There are two things that every schoolchild knows about icebergs.

One, that one of them was largely to blame for the Titanic’s passengers having a chilly swim. And two, there’s more below the surface of the water as there is above, and it’s this second one which is relevant when thinking about branding. Here’s why.

If I was to ask someone to describe the difference between Waitrose and Asda, they’d probably tell me that Waitrose is posher, has better quality goods, the service is terrific and their customers go ape if the avocados aren’t ripe.

Then they’d probably say that Asda was cheaper, lower quality goods, longer queues at the tills and their customers get upset if someone else gets the 54” telly on Black Friday. I think it’s fair to say that 9/10 people would define each of those stores along similar lines.

The question is why each supermarket has the perception that it does. Is it to do with their advertising? The logos? The colour schemes or fonts? Undoubtedly people do infer a certain amount from these things but a much bigger factor is the very experience they have on the ground, in the shops, eating their products and so on.

People’s perception will be dictated by the experience at the checkout. What the staff are like. How they are ‘greeted and treated’. What happens when they have a complaint and every other interaction they have with that company.

Here’s another example. Remember that passenger who was literally dragged from a United Airlines flight because the airline had overbooked its seats? The doubtless hundreds of millions of dollars that UA has invested telling people, since 1965, that they ‘Fly the Friendly Skies’ came crashing down to earth in an instant. Fifty-two years’ worth of brand-messaging across multiple media in multiple territories – and boom! They’ll never be able to use that message again with any sincerity.

Conversely, Apple and Google have built the most valuable brands that have ever existed without much advertising. Google in particular, started with a rather home-made looking logo, and a website that delivered results to you in an unattractive, text-based web page.

But it delivered the right search-results better, more accurately and faster than Yahoo, Alta Vista or AskJeeves (remember them?!) were able to manage. And they made it easier by letting you install a ‘search box’ right there in the menu of your browser, making their search super-quick and easy to access. In short, the all-conquering Google brand was built on the back of being brilliant.

It’s the same with Apple. The iPhone has been their saviour. I cannot recall a single iPhone advert, but I can recall the jaw-dropping experience of using one for the first time back in about 2007. From swiping photos, to downloading one of the millions of apps, the iPhone was light-years ahead of the Nokia brick I carried in my pocket at the time.

The point is how a brand is perceived is determined more by the experience than the marketing.

And that’s why a brand is like an iceberg. If we assume that above the waterline represents your visible things – website, shopfronts, adverts, brochures etc – and below the waterline are the less tangible things – your service people receive, how you answer the phone, how a customer feels they have been dealt with, even what you wear and drive and what your office looks like.


So if you want to be in control of how people think of your brand, modernising your logo or your font will help, but you’ll really only be affecting the icing on the cake, rather than the cake itself.

This is where our 3D Marketing Programme comes in.

Before we start designing or writing anything, we do our homework first. We research, analyse and work with you to make sure you’ve got something to say that will mean something to your audience, and is a clear positioning relative to your competitors.

And once your positioning is defined, we’ll put together all the materials you need to make this message come across loud and clear.

Because strong brands look the same above the water as they do under the water.

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Rethink Marketing is a trading name of Fresh Approach Marketing Ltd. Registered in England no. 05191380. Vat no 943304343.