Neil Cole transformed the business world for more than four decades. As a trailblazing branding executive, he revolutionized the licensing industry and reconceptualized how retail and brands target an audience.
As part of his branding innovation, Neil Cole founded Iconix, a company specializing in brand management with licensing rights to top names in fashion and footwear. Cole’s thought leadership in this industry has revolutionized the way the business understands its products and customers. In the ever-changing industry of branding and consumerism, he offered these insights on the difference between a brand and a label:
Neil Cole – Brands lead, Labels follow
According to Neil Cole, brands generate opportunities for their followers; they actively design better lives for customers. Brands want consumers to fashion (pun intended) new and better lives for themselves; they want to clients to reimagine who they are, what they do, and how they live. Brands set an example for consumers: by being different, demonstrating excellence, and creatively disrupting saturated industries.
Brands are real and timeless, Labels come and go
Neil Cole defined a brand as the images that come to mind when you say a name. “It means something,” said Cole. The constant labeling of products is inferior to smart, everlasting branding. But brands must also be kept relevant, fresh, and exciting. A brand’s history and longstanding position in any industry are important, but so is a brand’s novelty. Neil Cole warned if a historic brand doesn’t actively remain up-to-date, it will ultimately fail.
Brands guide us on a journey, Labels follow
When Cole founded Iconix Brand Group, he knew that a properly formed brand leads consumers on an exceptional adventure. Whether a thrilling journey or self-serenity and all the possible places in between, branding breaks the mold. It wants to take loyal fans and curious consumers on an unforgettable journey—a quest that is simultaneously fascinating, life-changing, and different.
Labels, on the other hand, do not offer anything new or inspiring. They take up space in a stockroom. Brands are what bring labels to stores and into shopping carts. A brand is how consumers perceive a product, their take on quality, prestige, and performance, while a label is an informative tag attached to said product. Ultimately, according to Neil Cole, old and new businesses alike must remember these distinctions when defining themselves in any industry.