In our view, a brand is more than a logo

Jan. 25, 2005
We all know advertising can reinforce our brand image, but it can't change it by itself. CONTROL Editor in Chief Walt Boyes asks, "How do your company's positive values live up to its brand?"
 By Walt Boyes, Editor in Chief


ONTROL’s readers have always had a healthy skepticism for marketing claims and sales hype. We have mirrored that skepticism since our first issue, and we’re not about to change now. Our mission is to serve your technical and information needs, and we believe strongly that that critical eye we have provides you with information, not hype, and actionable content you can use.

This is the DNA of our brand. This is what we believe has made us the best magazine in process automation, and what will make the best information source for process automation on the Web. We work very hard to nurture, and preserve and protect our brand. We do that the only way we know how: by serving you, our readers.

But sometimes, you gotta ask yourself how some companies feel about branding. The Readers' Choice Awards (RCAs) are more of a branding survey than anything else, because it is an open-ended survey. We don't provide the voters with a drop down form listing all the possible candidates; it is strictly a write-in ballot.

I've been keeping the “List of Lost Companies” (Appendix 9 in Béla Lipták’s IEH4, Volume 1) for years now. During the '90s, over 300 automation companies merged, re-merged, changed their names, re-sized, down-sized, reorganized and disorganized to the point where many of the great old names are nearly lost. Included in this dance was its effect on company brands. As we go halfway through the first decade of the new century, we’re beginning to see the long-term effects of all of this on many companies, small and large.

A brand is more than a logo. It is more than an advertising or public relations campaign. Simply put, a brand is a gestalt made up of all the impressions and interactions a company has with its suppliers, customers, competitors, employees and the public at large. Positive brand values are a real measure of how well the company “walks the walk.” Negative brand values are a real measure of how poorly they walk.

Companies have, in the past, won categories in the RCAs where they didn't even make a product. What does that tell you about their brand?

Because a brand is a gestalt, you can’t buy a brand, no matter how much money you spend. You can’t make people believe in your brand by fancy advertising, or by hyping your products. Brands are grown, not made, by the people who use the products and those who make them. Advertising can reinforce your brand image, but it can’t change it by itself.

You can abuse a brand by abusing the trust people have in you. A company with excellent service can cut down on the service some before the negative brand values come home to roost. A company can let go all of its applications engineering staff and find itself still selling products. For a while.

But eventually, it comes home.

Watch what companies do. Don’t just buy reflexively based on what you believe are the brand values of a vendor. Keep your eye on how they continue to walk that walk. You need to keep your vendors honest. We’ll help you do that by removing the adverbs and adjectives from press releases, and publishing articles written by and from the viewpoint of process automation professionals like yourselves.

We don’t publish vendor written material in CONTROL, and the white papers we place on have to meet or exceed the ISA documentation standards for objectivity and non-commerciality. We guarantee that the information we deliver is unbiased and of the highest quality.

Look at the brands of the vendors you use, and tell me who’s walking the walk, and who isn’t. I’m waiting to hear.

To comment on this article, e-mail Walt Boyes at [email protected].

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