Personal Branding with Bernard Kelvin Clive : Your logo is worthless if not useless


The Yakubu Story: Branding Without a Logo

“Masa, good morning!” he greeted as I answered the call, “good morning boss!’ I responded. He then said, “I dey your gate”. I hung up the call and dashed to the gate. There he was, Yakubu, with all smiles.

You know, as a brand consultant and staunch advocate of personal branding, I am excited to continue our series on the topic of logos.

However, I want to make it clear that my aim is not to belittle designers or devalue the importance of branding. Rather, I wish to bring attention to the limitations of logos and emphasise the significance of a comprehensive approach to building a thriving brand.

So, let’s delve into the second part of ‘Your Logo is Useless’.

In the first part, I shared with you the importance of branding and how your logo is not the only tool for driving your brand’s value.

Today, let me share another story that perfectly illustrates my point.

A couple of years ago, my family and I moved to a new location in Ghana, Oyibi in Accra.

The challenges with new locations are many, and one of them was getting access to potable water while the second had to do with getting a waste management firm to pick up our garbage.

I searched for a refuse company to pick up our waste weekly and pay monthly. I called several popular companies, but none of them showed up. They would give excuses and promise to deliver, but never did.

I thought luck was on my side when I eventually got one, but the unexpected happened. The one that finally came did not show up regularly as promised, always cooking-up different stories as an excuse.

I occasionally called the firm’s manager to vent my displeasure about their service in a friendly tone, in the hope of things get better. Even though I was frustrated and disappointed with the poor service rendered, I had no choice then. I continued to pay for their service, hoping things would improve.

So, after several months nothing changed. They still missed some weeks, and sometimes the whole month… and still expected payment. A typical attitude of most startups; they will under-deliver and yet expect their full pay.

One day, I decided I could no longer tolerate their lousy behaviour. I confronted them and told them that they were not keeping to their brand promise. Their name was out there as a waste management company, but their service delivery was poor. I was not the only one complaining; other residents were as well. However, they could not confront them as I did.

I decided to stop patronising their service and started looking for alternatives, hoping to find one. As the days went by, one day while driving by I saw a young man with a tricycle (Aboboyaa) picking up heaps of refuse. I immediately aborted my errands and asked him to follow me to pick up my refuse. Which he gladly did.

When he emptied the bin into his tricycle, he removed a broom from the side of his tricycle and swept the leftovers on the ground clean. Wow, I was amazed by this first act. Even the big brands with all the resources at their disposal had never done that before.

We then exchanged contacts and asked him to be picking my garbage weekly. Yakubu was a live-saver, and the weeks after became refreshing.

Week after week he comes to pick up, and has never missed a week as I speak now. On occasions when we had travelled, he would call and inquire when we would return so he can pick up the garbage.

The tricycle guy (Yakubu) became our go-to option for refuse collection, and we were satisfied with his services. I recommended him to others in the hood as well, and told them of the amazing job he does as compared to the big-brand waste management firms we knew.

This serves me to think again and again. It is common to see brands putting a lot of effort into hyping their brand identity and making noise on social media, only to under-deliver when it comes to actual customer service. This can be frustrating for consumers who expect a certain level of quality based on the brand’s marketing efforts.

Yakubu had only one small unbranded tricycle, yet could effectively serve the community efficiently with excellent customer service. Interestingly, he had very little formal education; he was schooled up to college level and had no further education in branding or customer services management, yet his services were professionally done. He understood his business well and was fully committed to the task.

It made me realise that you don’t need a fancy logo to deliver excellent services. Many small businesses thrive without these elements, relying instead on quality products and exceptional customer service. Of course, visual branding can still be an essential tool for building brand recognition and attracting new customers – but it is not the only factor in delivering excellent service.

As a brand consultant, I understand the importance of developing a strong brand identity and visual branding elements to elevate a brand’s services to stand out in a competitive market. That’s exactly what I have in mind to do for Yakubu.

As I keep saying that a brand is not just about a logo. It’s about the message and value you are trying to communicate to your target audience and the market. It’s about the values you represent and the promises you make to your customers. If your service delivery is not up to par, your brand will suffer regardless of how pretty your logo is.

A logo is only one aspect of your brand. It’s a visual representation of your brand identity, but it’s not the only thing that matters. A great logo can only take you so far. Yet, if your product or service is not excellent, you won’t be able to retain customers or gain new ones.

The point is that having a great brand logo is necessary, but it’s not the only thing that matters in doing business. A cute logo alone won’t make your business succeed; it’s a good visual representation but it doesn’t translate to excellent delivery of products and services. You must focus on providing excellent services to your customers, keeping to your brand promise and delivering on your mission. That’s what will make your brand stand out, not just a pretty logo.

I believe that we can all take some lessons from Yakubu’s brand and excellent delivery services. Here are some thoughts worth pondering and learning:

Excellent customer service is crucial. Yakubu’s success in delivering quality services was not just due to his ability to pick up the refuse on time, but also because of his excellent customer service. He went the extra mile to sweep up the leftovers, and was always available to pick up refuse even when his customers were away. He was deliberate about courting relationships with his clients. Always remember that repeat business is better than one-off business.

The brand promise must be kept: When a company or brand promises to deliver a certain class of service, it’s important to keep that promise. The big-brand waste management companies promised to pick up the waste, but they failed to deliver – causing frustration and dissatisfaction among their customers. When customers lose trust because you fail to deliver as promised, it negatively affects the brand’s image and perception. Yakubu, on the other hand, promised to pick up the waste and consistently delivered on that promise. His word was his bond.

Quality products and services are important: While having a great logo and visual branding is necessary, it’s not enough to sustain a business. To stand out from the pile, you must consistently deliver quality products and services. That’s what will make your customers keep coming back. Yakubu did not have a fancy logo, but he delivered quality services consistently – which made him stand out from the big-brand waste management companies.

Word-of-mouth marketing is still very effective: Yakubu’s business grew through word of mouth. His satisfied customers recommended him to others in the community, which helped him gain more business. Word of mouth is a powerful marketing tool that can help businesses grow, and it’s essential to deliver quality services to keep customers satisfied and talking positively about your brand.

Bernard Kelvin Clive is a multi-talented individual who has made a name for himself as a leading authority on personal branding and digital book publishing in Africa.

As a brand strategist at BKC Consulting, he runs the monthly Branding & Publishing Masterclass; helping individuals take their personal and professional brands to new heights. To learn more about Bernard and his work, visit

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