Your Brand Is Your Barcode


The barcode transformed supermarket checkout in the ’80s. Its primary benefit: increasing sales while decreasing the cost of sales. What a coincidence! That’s the same benefit — and objective — of a unique, compelling brand.

We know what it’s like to stand in a checkout line when someone is holding up the works — because the scanner is malfunctioning or a barcode is missing or incorrect. The cashier must manually enter each item’s SKU on the keyboard, exponentially expanding the wait-time of the entire queue. Collective frustration is palpable. The cost of sales immediately jumps.

We have the same experience when viewing a vendor’s nebulous homepage (yes, we do judge a book by its cover).

Typically, the vendor throws industry jargon on its homepage and then expects us to read “About Us,” watch a corporate video, or peruse a whitepaper to comprehend its reason for being. Newsflash to vendor: it is not incumbent on us to decipher your business; it’s your job to explain it — in our language, in 15 seconds, on your homepage.
A Logo Is Not a Brand

An effective brand, like a barcode, effects instant identification of a message in the “reader.” When we, as readers, recognize and accept a brand, we feel the familiar “beep” sound of a supermarket scanner in our guts, and we want to make a purchase.

Conversely, when we don’t “get it” — can’t instantly grasp the vendor’s brand — we dawdle or never buy, lowering the vendor’s sales and raising its cost of sales.

I constantly meet executives who think that creating a fancy logo is equivalent to branding their companies, that the job of branding ends with creating said logo. Wrong. A brand is not a logo; a logo is not a brand.

A brand is a value proposition that your customers recognize, grasp, feel, accept, and share with their friends and colleagues — whether you’re selling shoes or nuclear reactors. The logo reinforces a brand but never constitutes one.
Rx from The WhiteNoise Doctor™

People do judge a book by its cover. Your homepage is your cover, your #1 branding platform. If you can’t communicate there, where can you communicate?

Look at your homepage. Does it speak unique? Odds are, it doesn’t. Is it sharp and piercing like an arrow? Odds are, it isn’t. Do customers find it compelling? Odds are, they don’t.

Recall the last time you were stuck in a supermarket queue, when the scanner couldn’t read a barcode. Did you feel frustrated, that the store was wasting your time? Did you consider leaving the store?

Now, imagine your customers’ frustrations, and desires to exit, the next time you downplay and deprioritize the urgency of crystal-clear branding on your homepage.


About the Author

Marc Rudov is a branding advisor to CEOs,
producer of MarcRudovTV, and author of the book,
Be Unique or Be Ignored: The CEO’s Guide to Branding.


© 2010 Marc H. Rudov. All Rights Reserved.


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