Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Your brand is not your damn logo.

Especially if you're a service company. Here's a good example.

I spent a couple of weeks in Italy recently. Our flight plans included layovers in Amsterdam. (Schiphol Airport is always an interesting experience in itself. Apparently, somebody mixed up the plans for an airport with some blueprints for a shopping mall. I've actually heard that people in The Netherlands go to Schiphol just to shop. To me, the idea of going to an airport for anything other than the necessity of travel is unfathomable but apparently it goes on.)

During our first layover, we headed to the KLM lounge near our gate. Uber cool. Great furniture, fabulous bar and food area, bathroom fixtures that I'd like in my own home. Interestingly, the lounge color scheme was Deep Red instead of that KLM Royal Blue. It made me feel great to sit there and, for a moment, air travel felt damn near civilized. It made me appreciate KLM for offering such a fabulous respite after six hours in a plane. And while I hardly noticed it at the time, there was nary a KLM logo in sight.

Fast forward to the return trip. Same airport, different lounge. This time, it was of an entirely different ilk. If the lounge from our first layover seemed ripped from the pages of Dwell magazine, this one appeared to be the work of a top designer from Coceascu's Romania. Cheesy seating. Utilitarian restrooms. Drop-panel ceiling.

But that wasn't the worst of it. The KLM logo was plastered everywhere. And that less-than-pleasing Royal Blue stubbornly lodged itself in every sight line. At one time, this was some KLM marketing wonk's idea of branding. Piss off, I thought. I'm trying to gather up some sanity before I embark on nine hours inside a metal tube with four jet engines strapped to it.

The inflight magazine on KLM actually featured a piece on the lounge from our first layover. I don't have a copy to reference names, but the designer of the space had a great point regarding the red color scheme and the lack of logos. I'm paraphrasing, but it was something like this:

"People already know they're in a KLM lounge. We don't to remind them of that fact. We need to make their experience in the lounge a positive one."

The fact of the matter is that my first layover was a positive brand experience. With no logos, no corporate colors and a flagrant disregard for any brand standards guide.

It's a good lesson for all marketers, but especially for companies in service categories like hotels or retail. Slapping a logo everywhere is a crutch for lazy thinkers.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Excellent point and so rarely observed.

8:29 AM  

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