Free Branding Services?

There are thousands of very, very small companies out there who will develop a logo at no cost, a tagline at no cost, get you a free domain name and a free Web site at no cost. I guess the next big thing will be that they also write you a fat check — all for free. Who are these enterprises and how are they doing this?

The Internet has removed the cumbersome overhead costs and linked very talented people to handle the real issues in real time without the fancy decorum and the superfluous, big-time fanfare.

Enters the street fighter, a savvy marketer with some teeth and a friendly smile. The freelance nations have far too many operators on the marketing and branding circuit that all are chipping away the armor of the giant branding companies, who until now sold more on their posh addresses and furniture than raw talent. Million dollar logos with a matching spin to thousands of others, million dollar-slogans, confusing sentences as branding miracles — suddenly, such services are now available for free as an incentive to get a new client for print and related packaging services.

Recently, logos have seriously slipped in power, impact and originality. Outside the famous and overly used examples of Coca Cola, Nike and Mercedes, most customers can’t visualize a logo of a major corporation, like AT&T or GM. Also, a lot of companies simply resorted to word marks, the use of a simple typeface, and that’s all, like Microsoft or Rolex. Currently, of the millions of logos in use today, a very large number are just almost identical copies of others.

No Creative Distinction

Before, the Web corporations, big or small, easily got away with that because no one bothered to check a logo of an American company for similarities in Korea or India or vice versa. Today, with a simple search, hundreds of countries are all lined up with their spinning logos. The similarities are far too obvious and hurt the image by not offering any creative distinction. On the Web logos have lost their power.

All enterprising design logo shops are offering free logos in hope of getting new clients. Nothing wrong here. They involve the same design exercises, which took months and millions to justify a circle over a triangle, accompanied by psychological studies and fanfare to select a color. For example, “blue” is for the sky, therefore it is open versus “green” for grass, which is flat? There were further national studies to find a matching tagline. This is now done in a few hours turn around. Is this any different than the a fully air conditioned room, called the data center, with a raised floor to house a large cabinet-sized computer system with power no greater than a fancy electronic gadget now on your desk?

If all these services become so easily accessible and so massively applied to everything big and small, then where lies the distinction, the differentiation and the uniqueness? Furthermore, what is the future of such services including the gatekeepers of image and identity? It is dark.

If branding is really supposed to be a logo, a distinct color and a tagline, then it is now available for free, all as a small introductory service from print shops all over the world. Look for free logos and creative branding on the Web; the quality and the services are at par with any top major agency, minus the fanfare.

The issue here is that e-commerce has taken the punch form design side and opened some new frontiers. Web site performance is more important than the logos or colors, the search engine positioning is more important than the tagline and the domain name is more important than the entire Web site itself.

Two Areas for Branding

Corporate branding is now divided into two distinct areas: Acquire a name identity that will work on global e-commerce and design a real Web site that will deliver the message. All the other things in between, which took months and years of expensive teams to mull over, are now replaced by quick creative services. The magic is now in the cheapest and the fasted deliveries of creative ideas, and the boardroom style branding think tanks are being booted out.

Corporate image and the naming of products and services are still the most critical issues for any serious player. The fact that most of these services are not capital intense any longer means the issues of distinction will always remain on the forefront.

Customer-hungry corporations are putting more emphasis on correct global name identities as a key to play in this new name-economy and ride the fast tide of cyber branding — almost for free. Why not?

Naseem Javed, author Naming for Power and alsoDomain Wars, is recognized as a world authority on global nameidentities and domain issues. Javed founded ABC Namebank, aconsultancy he established a quarter century ago, and conducts executiveworkshops on image and name identity issues. Contact him at [email protected].

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