Small company rebranding - just a logo?

In an article titled "Extreme Makeover," the Wall Street Journal (November 26 2007) talks about the trend toward small companies pursuing rebranding. Increased competition and lower costs are the drivers of this trend.

The problem is that the Journal talks about rebranding exclusively in design terms. (Or the problem is, small companies think about branding exclusively in design terms.) For example, it cites the offerings of Powerful Impact in Great Neck, N.Y.--which are provided in tiers. The lowest tier is logo, business card, stationery; the highest tier includes a Web site and product packaging. Nowhere does it talk about brand assessment, strategy or internal branding, all key critical elements of any rebranding.

The danger of this kind of approach to branding--of looking at it purely as a design exercise--is that it minimizes the strategic and people elements of branding. Without thinking through what the positioning should be, who the audience is, what the distribution channels are, what future opportunities exist, and how people deliver on the brand, the whole thing is wasted.

A more interesting article would be on whether small firms ever choose to do a comprehensive rebranding or whether they tend to stick with redesign as a substitute for something more strategic. Even more interesting would be an article on the state of branding today--how many companies understand what branding really is and pursue that, vs. how many are still stuck in the logo mindset.