It’s always interesting when a company changes or updates its logo. Sometimes it’s met with applause and other times it ignites debate and disappointment. While logos certainly play an important role in a company’s brand strategy, they aren’t the driving force behind a brand. A brand is a company’s promise to its customers and what gives that company value. It’s a claim of distinction that separates it from competitors. While revealing a new logo may cause a brief flash of attention, good or bad, it’s an established, well-maintained brand that will stand the test of time.

In any large company acquisition, it’s usually not the bricks and mortar—the factories, buildings, equipment, technologies—that hold the most value. It’s the brand. To build value in a brand, it’s important to have a defined brand strategy. There are a lot of companies who don’t have a brand strategy because they’ve never taken the time to go through the steps of identifying their brand. Trying to develop an effective marketing campaign without a defined brand strategy is like flying blind.

We’re strong believers in the fact that a brand is not created, it’s discovered. That discovery process is an essential step in the process of developing a brand identity and strategy. A defined brand knows its tangible and intangible qualities. Tangible qualities are those undeniable elements that describe the facts and basis of a company, where intangible qualities are more descriptive words that relate the feelings, qualities or aspirations that surround it. Employees and customers can help isolate those tangible and intangible qualities.

Brand discovery also includes thoroughly understanding your customers. It’s just as important to identify what those customers value most about a brand and what they would never want to see changed as it is to identify the things they would like to see changed. It’s critical to hold sacred what customers love about a brand.

Research is needed as well. Whether it’s talking with customers, employees or studying key competitors, it’s crucial to discover how a brand’s products or services compare to others in the market and how they’re perceived within the overall industry. It’s only then that a company can define itself in a way that answers those competitors and gives itself enough freedom to grow in the future.

The information gathered from employees, customers, competitors and more during the brand discovery process is used to form a brand identity model that identifies a company’s core differentiators. It is also used in the development of branding elements like taglines, brand essence statements and elevator speeches.

As brands are discovered and identity is established, consistency is very important. Imagine if you visited Apple’s website and the iPhone page had a completely different look, feel and messaging than the iPad page. You might feel disconnected and maybe even a bit distrusting of the Apple brand. A company that presents its brand in different ways is in danger of losing its brand value.

When a brand is strong, it can greatly increase the value of a company beyond the dollar value of its physical assets. It can also help attract and retain customers as well as employees. So while a company may change its logo, that doesn’t, or shouldn’t, change what the company is at its core. Brand is and will remain king.